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Major town centre investment to be considered by councillors

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A major package of capital investment in Paisley town centre is set to be considered by Renfrewshire councillors when they meet next week.

Plans being put forward propose a package of investment totalling £45.7million in refurbishment and upgrades to Paisley Town Hall, Paisley Arts Centre, a new venue at the former Galbraith’s site on Back Sneddon Street in the town; improvements to Paisley town centre as well as an upgrade to St James Playing field.

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Paisley Town Hall

The plans are part of the town’s final bid for the UK City of Culture 2021 competition, which is also being considered by councillors next week, with a decision on the winner expected by the end of the year.

Paisley was this summer named as the only Scottish bidder on the shortlist for the 2021 competition, alongside Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

The bid is part of a wider push to use Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage offer to make it a key visitor destination within Scotland, and transform the future of the whole Renfrewshire area.

Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “The whole of Renfrewshire has such a rich heritage and world class local talent and this investment will bring significant benefit to communities right across the region.

“Culture and heritage can play such a transformational role in supporting our local economy and improving the opportunities and wellbeing for our communities, investing in improvements to our existing venues and our town centre environment, we can make a real change in the fortunes of the area.

“Winning the title will boost the local economy by £175million, create more than 4,700 local jobs in the area, boost our tourism industry and improve the profile of the area, showing investors how much Renfrewshire has to offer.”

The plans include:

£22million for Paisley Town Hall – to increase performance attendances and attract high quality events to improve the visitor experience and improve the physical infrastructure of the building to secure its long term future

£2.5 million for Paisley Arts Centre – to upgrade electrical works, improve toilet provision, provide changing accommodation for performers, new seating, improved staging, redecoration and improved access arrangements

£10million improvements to Paisley town centre – include improved access into the town centre, pedestrian and cycling routes, public transport, local traffic improvements and investment in the physical appearance of the town centre

£3.5million to transform the former Galbraith’s building on Back Sneddon Street to provide a venue for performance and visual art events.

£7.7million redevelopment of facilities at St James playing field including an upgrade to grass pitches, a new pavilion and café, and an area to accommodate large scale events; and an upgrade to the existing Ferguslie Park Sports Centre.

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Fun and laughter at marathon Bookbug session

TODDLERS had a marathon session of fun and laughter in the longest ever Bookbug session held at Paisley Central Library.
To celebrate Bookbug Week, Renfrewshire Leisure staged a Gigglethon in the library on Monday.

The theme of the Gigglethon was humour and children under the age of five, along with their parents or carers were invited to come along any time during the day to have some fun and a good laugh.
And everyone at the Gigglethon was given a free book, mask and sticker courtesy of the Scottish Book Trust.

The event, at Central Library is just one of several fun sessions being held in libraries and venues throughout Renfrewshire to celebrate Bookbug’s Big Giggle.
Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure said: “Our libraries are really fun places to go all the year round, but the marathon Gigglethon was extra special.”
Log on to www.renfrewshirelibraries.co.uk for more information about Bookbug Week sessions locally.

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Paisley library relocation to protect historic face of High Street building

Paisley Library - Paisley Museum

Plans to relocate Paisley Central Library will preserve the historic front of a landmark high street building.

Paisley Library - Paisley Museum

Renfrewshire Council approved £5m proposals to retain the existing façade of the upper floors at 22/22A High Street, while developing a complete new structure behind.

The plan will protect the town centre’s architectural heritage while delivering an accessible and new Learning and Cultural Centre.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “An incredible 131,000 people visit the library every year and they will now benefit from a modern, fully accessible building.

“This new Learning and Cultural Centre will be a valuable addition to Paisley’s High Street.

“It will offer users an enhanced experience and allow us to grow the number of activities for young people and children.

“It will also bring a vacant building back into popular use and draw people into the heart of the town centre, meaning more potential customers for local businesses.”

He added: “The decision to preserve the historic front of the existing building protects Paisley’s architectural heritage and will maintain the character of the town centre for future generations.

“This is part of our ambitious vision for Paisley and a vital step to our delivering a redeveloped, signature museum of national status that will help establish the town as an attractive destination for visitors.”

The design of the new structure at 22/22A High Street will be informed by further surveys of the existing building.

This survey work is ongoing and would be required regardless of the final design.

In November 2015 Renfrewshire Council’s Economy and Jobs Board agreed to allocate £2.7m towards the redevelopment of Paisley Central Library, with the purchase of 22/22A High Street then completed in June 2016.

The council was successful in its application to the first stage of the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund , seeking £1.5m for the project.

The outcome of the second stage application is due in February 2017. Should the grant be received councillors have agreed to put an extra £800,000 towards the cost of the project to bridge the funding gap.

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Skoobmobile in the running for national library award

Renfrewshire’s mobile children’s library outreach service, the uniquely named Skoobmobile, featuring friendly book monsters known as the Skoobs, has been shortlisted for the prestigious CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award for best practice in UK library services.


Promoting reading and play combined for children age 0-12, the mobile library stocks a broad range of children’s books in a flexible space that houses a range of activities based around play, reading and physical and digital activity. The bus tours the community to open its doors to children and adults at schools, nurseries, community spaces and family events.

Over the school holidays, the mobile has been offering ‘Play In the Park’ sessions in parks and green spaces, encouraging families to get onboard to listen to a children’s story before completing an outdoor activity trail. Other activities include Bedtime Reading on board the Skoobmobile, Lego storytelling, The Summer Reading Challenge and Bookbug programmes; and tailored partnerships with local primary schools.

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The team looking after the service include Pauline Simpson, co-ordinator of Renfrewshire’s Children and Families mobile library service and Andrew Givan, Children and Families Development Co-ordinator. On–board staff are playworker Deborah Coulter and mobile library workers Jimi McGuigan and Laurence Doherty. In 2015, the bus won a Delegate’s Choice Award for the Best Mobile Library at the national conference of CILIP’s Public and Mobile Libraries Special Interest Group.

Skoobmobile’s primary aim is to improve children’s life chances by encouraging a lasting interest in reading, literacy, physical activity and learning; bringing the opportunities of the public library service directly to children and families where they are gathered in the community. The service targets schools more than a mile from a public library and nurseries and preschools more than 0.7 miles from a library; and works more intensively with schools in the Scottish Index Multiple Deprivation zones. From its launch in April 2015, to February 2016, there were 10,907 visits to the Skoobmobile by children and 1,859 visits by adults, lasting from 20 minutes to 1.5 hours. The service has visited 28 different primary schools, 21 pre-5 establishments and all schools for children with additional support needs, working with community groups, third sector organisations and health agencies.

Joyce McKellar, Chief Executive, Renfrewshire Leisure – “The Skoobmobile is playing a positive role in engaging with children and their families to encourage parents to read more with their children, and to enjoy playing and learning together.  The dedicated Skoobmobile team are committed to bringing a high quality service to schools, nurseries and community venues and are making a real difference to the lives of people in Renfrewshire”.

Councillor Jim Harte, Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure“It is so important for our children to have access to a place where they can learn, have fun and develop. The Skoobmobile is great as it travels to places where children are less likely to have access to their local library service, and gives them the chance to explore new books and take part in some exciting activities.”

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education Policy Board – “Encouraging children to read from an early age puts in place good habits for later in life. Reading is so important when it comes to language skills and creative development, and we think the Skoobmobile is a great way to get children excited about reading.”

Chair of Judges John Vincent – “The 2016 Libraries Change Lives shortlist is all about wellbeing, and showcases services targeted towards health as an extension of the library’s core functions around literacy, keeping people informed, and supporting social justice in our communities. These three different library services clearly show the need for non-clinical spaces and support and the increasing role libraries are playing as a channel for the public health message.”

The award is judged by CILIP’s Community, Diversity and Equality Group (CDEG). The winner will be announced on Thursday 29 Septemberand will receive a £4000 investment from CILIP. Over 24 years, the award has recognised a number of targeted initiatives around health and wellbeing, including bibliotherapy and services designed to support local populations dealing with dementia, autism, visual impairment, domestic abuse and mental health issues.

Ongoing initiatives recognised by the award include Bookstart, the Government-backed scheme first piloted by Birmingham Libraries which now reaches 3 million babies and their parents across the UK, and The City of Edinburgh’s HMP Edinburgh Library Partnership; an initiative that has transformed engagement among the prison population, tackling social exclusion and providing education and employment opportunities for a better transition to community life.

More details of the award and finalists can be found at:  cilip.org.uk/lcla or via the hashtag #LCLA2016

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Youngsters ready for Summer Reading Challenge

YOUNGSTERS are being urged to head to their local library and read more books this summer.

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From left – Aimee Ford, Michael Taylor, Caitlin Rocks, Abby Brewster, Emma Sheerin and Susan Orr.

Renfrewshire Leisure has launched this year’s Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge and the more books children read, the more prizes they can win.

The Roald Dahl-themed Summer Reading Challenge is called the Big Friendly Read and during the school summer holidays youngsters can go to their local library, register for the challenge and start borrowing books.

If they read two books they’ll get a certificate and a free swim pass for any of the pools in Renfrewshire.
Four books read get them a certificate and a pair of novelty rainbow glasses and when a child reads six books they’ll be awarded a certificate, a medal and free use of a badminton court in a local sports centre.
There is also a prize for the primary school that has the biggest percentage of pupils who have read six books and they will get to see a performance from the Booster Cushion Theatre Company.

Chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, Joyce McKellar said: “We want to encourage more young people to read books and with kids have plenty of spare time on their hands over the summer holidays, there’s no better time for them to start.
“They can read any kind of book they like and there’s every chance that when they visit their local library they’ll meet new friends and share what they think about the books they’ve read.
“Last year, we had 2031 children take part in the Summer Reading Challenge and we’re hoping to get even more involved this year.”

Log on to the Renfrewshire Libraries website, or visit your local library for more information on the Summer Reading Challenge.

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High Street unit is preferred site for new Paisley library

Paisley’s lending library could be moving to a new and improved home at the heart of the town’s High Street – bringing a vacant shop unit back into use.

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If councillors give approval next week and detailed surveys of the building are positive, plans to turn the former Internacionale store at 22 and 22a High Street into a modern library facility will move forward.

The five-floor unit was chosen as the preferred site after an assessment of all vacant properties in the town centre, having been judged as the one which would make the biggest positive impact on the town centre if brought back into use.

The plans are connected to the proposed £56.7m transformation of Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based around textiles. Only the lending library would move – the current heritage library will stay in the museum complex.

Last year councillors set aside £2.7m from existing resources for the proposed library move, and a consultation with library users in the new year showed users and other residents broadly in favour.

Although the current lending library is well-used – with around 130,000 visits a year – it has limited space to accommodate increasing demand for computer access.

Councillors on the Planning and Property Board will decide whether to give approval to conclude the purchase on 15 March. That deal will be conditional on detailed surveys of the property to determine how suitable it is to host a library facility.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “The regeneration of our town centres is a key priority for this council – and these plans would be another step in the right direction for Paisley High Street.

“We know the empty shops are a big talking point for residents – but people need to accept we just can’t turn the clock back 20 years to a time where the High Street was a thriving retail hub

“Of course, the council can’t buy every unit – but by focusing the money we do have on key anchor projects we bring people into the town, generating footfall for existing businesses and hopefully creating conditions where others can set up shop.

“In this case we want to create a 21st-century library, which will be more in tune with what library users need in an increasingly- digital world, while also offering increased space for educational activities.

“A few doors down the same street is the new publicly-accessible museum store set to open next year in the basement of Bargain Buys, while next door to that the Paisley 2021 bid team hub will open soon.

“All of these projects fit perfectly with the aims of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021, which is now gathering pace, and is all about using our unique culture and heritage to transform the area’s future.”

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Library users give thumbs-up to town centre move plans

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Proposals to move Paisley’s lending library to a new home on the town’s High Street have been given a thumbs-up by users of the current facility.

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Council bosses are looking into moving the current lending library as part of a project running alongside the ambitious £56.7m masterplan to transform Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based on the town’s unique textile heritage.

The plans would see the lending library moved to a new modern facility elsewhere in the town centre – although the current heritage library would stay where it is.

Last year councillors agreed to set aside £2.7m from existing resources for the proposed library move, as well as to run a consultation with current library users and town centre visitors to see what they thought about the plans.

That took place in January and the results – which will go before members of the council’s Leadership Board on 17 February – show residents broadly in favour;
– of 346 current users surveyed , 85% said they would visit the new library, with only 4% saying they were unlikely;
– of 129 lapsed and non-users, 47% said they were likely to visit it in the new location;
– 43% of current users were in favour of the move, with 32% unsure;
– 54% of lapsed or non-users were in favour, with 25% unsure;

The reasons given for a positive reaction included accessibility, location and the perception more people would use it.

Although the current lending library is well-used – attracting around 130,000 visits a year – it has limited space to accommodate increasing demand for computer access.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “Paisley lending library is a popular facility – but what people expect from their local library is changing as we move into an increasingly digital world.

“The current building isn’t ideal from that point of view – but the planned changes as part of the museum redevelopment offers us a chance to create a new modern library with space for children’s activities and increased digital provision, and we are pleased the survey shows library users recognise this.

“Our preference would be for that facility to be on the High Street – by bringing a vacant unit back into use we will helping create much-needed footfall for surrounding traders.

“Together with the publicly-accessible museum store set to open in the basement of the former Littlewoods by 2017 and the longer-term plans to transform the museum by 2021, we are helping bringing people into the street, which will in turn make it more attractive to retailers to set up shop there.

“As the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 gathers pace, it is important we have cultural facilities which are fit for the 21st century – and should this library redevelopment go ahead, it would give us exactly that.”

When the Leadership Board meets on 17 February, councillors will be asked to approve the development of options for library relocation.

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Paisley discovers Burns manuscript is world’s only copy

It’s been in Paisley’s collection for two centuries…now a manuscript penned by Robert Burns himself has been confirmed as the world’s only surviving copy of a rare piece of the poet’s work.


The piece – ‘Sir, Yours this moment I unseal’ – dates from 1786 and is described by experts as one which ‘any major library in the world would be proud to have’.

It was donated to Paisley around 200 years ago, just as Burns relics were becoming valuable commodities, and has been in the town ever since.

But the true significance has only now become known – with a leading Burns expert confirming that not only is the script in the bard’s own handwriting, but it is the world’s only known surviving copy of the verse.

It will go on display in Paisley Museum this week – in time for the 257th anniversary of Burns’ birth on Monday, and at a time when Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021 is gathering pace.

It was originally donated to Paisley by John Clarkson of local threadmakers McGavin and Clarkson, at a time when the town was a thriving global textile hub.

The short verse shows Burns accepting an invitation to a party or social event

Professor Gerard Carruthers, co-director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow w- authenticated the piece – said: “Although this is not one of Burns’ major works, it is a hugely important manuscript.

“It is one that any collector, town in Scotland, or major library in the world would be proud to possess.

“The text was used by 19th-century editors of Burns, but then disappeared from sight for reasons that are not all that clear.

“The text is an upbeat poetic squib dating from 1786 and Burns’ first flush of fame.

“In it he accepts an invitation to a social gathering, even though he says he is at this moment as drunk as ‘Bartie’ – which has been taken as a name for the devil.

“Another intriguing mystery remains, as we don’t know to whom the lines have been addressed.”

The item was initially held in the collection of the institutions which later formed the current Paisley Museum and Central Library and has been in secure storage in the town in recent decades.

In November last year, plans were revealed for a £56.7m revamp of Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based on the town’s unique textile history as a flagship project connected to the town’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid.

At the same time, Renfrewshire Council has set aside £3.7m for a publicly-accessible museum store to open on the town’s High Street by 2017.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board, added: “We already knew the town’s museum collection was of international significance, but this latest discovery shows we have another star item in our possession.

“As the town’s UK City of Culture bid moves closer, we will be looking to showcase the full scale of that collection to residents and visitors through the revamped museum and museum store.”

The full text of the poem reads –


Yours this moment I unseal,

And faith I’m gay and hearty!

To tell the truth and shame the deil,

I am as fou as Bartie:

But Foorsday, sir, my promise leal,

Expect me o’ your partie,

If on a beastie I can speel

Or hurl in a cartie.


Robert Burns


Monday Night, 10 o’clock

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Free books are in the bag for schoolkids

YOUNGSTERS are being given the chance to turn over a new leaf after they were given free books to take home and read. Every Primary One pupil in Renfrewshire is to be presented by Renfrewshire Libraries with three books to celebrate Book Week Scotland.

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And yesterday the Skoobmobile children’s library bus visited St Charles Primary, in Paisley to hand out a Bookbug Family Bag of goodies to children there.

They were given three illustrated picture books that have ben shortlisted for a Scottish Children’s Book Award – Mouse’s First Night At Moonlight School, by Simon Puttock; Never Tickle A Tiger, by Pamela Butchart and Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar, by Emily MacKenzie.

The Bookbug Family Bags also contain an activity colouring book with coloured pencils; a whiteboard, pen and eraser and a book from Road Safety Scotland, called Ziggy and Maggie Start School.

The free books and Family Bags programme are produced by the Scottish Book Trust, in conjunction with Education Scotland and the Scottish Government.

Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure – which now runs arts and cultural services as well as sports and leisure centres locally – said:

“This is a great way to encourage children at an early age to experience the joy of reading.

“The Bookbug Family Bag has everything you need for a fun way to start the youngsters learning how to write and count as well as read.

“We do everything we can to help children get the best start in life and learning to love books and reading does just that.”

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Toot, toot! The PlayTalkRead bus heads back to Renfrewshire

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The PlayTalkRead bus is back in Renfrewshire – giving local families the chance to get creative, sing songs and tell stories.

The big purple bus will call at Ferguslie Library before touring Renfrewshire for two weeks from Monday 23 November, making a total of 10 fun-filled stops.

play talk read

The PlayTalkRead bus travels up and down the country to show the positive impact of play. It introduces parents and carers to fun activities they can try at home with their child.

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Children Convener, said: “Often the best play ideas are simple and don’t cost a penny. Interaction with children really helps build the child/parent bond while developing essential social skills and motivation that can make lifelong learning easier. Admission to the bus is free and there’s no need to book. Whenever and wherever parents and carers see the bus, they can hop on board with their children to discover a world of fun and engaging activities to do together.”

The PlayTalkRead bus offers parents and children the opportunity to join in with BookBug storytelling, rhymes and songs sessions with young passengers also receiving a free book or playcube to take home.

  1. PlayTalkRead bus timetable:
Date Venue Timings
23 Nov Ferguslie Park Library, Paisley 10am – 1pm, then 2pm – 4pm
24 Nov Gallowhill Community Centre 10am – 1pm, then 2pm – 4pm
25 Nov Foxbar Community Centre, Amochire Road, Paisley 10am – 1pm, then 2pm – 4pm
26 Nov Tweedie Hall and Linwood Library, Linwood 10am – 1pm, then 2pm – 4pm
27 Nov Houston Square, Johnstone 10am – 1pm, then 2pm – 4pm
30 Nov Erskine Community Centre, Erskine 10am – 1pm, then 2pm – 4pm
1 Dec Renfrew Leisure Centre 10am – 1pm, then 2pm – 4pm
2 Dec County Square , Paisley 10am – 1pm, then 2pm – 4pm
3 Dec Bishopton Community Library, Bishopton 10am – 1pm, then 2pm – 4pm
4 Dec Glenburn Community Library, Paisley 10am – 1pm, then 2pm – 4pm