Locked-down libraries may cause ‘connectivity crisis’ for elderly people

Data shows majority of facilities yet to reopen

Credit: Strevo/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Elderly people could be facing a “connectivity crisis” with vast swathes of public libraries having remained shut for months, leaving some users bereft of internet access.

According to data provided by local councils to the Scottish Labour party, as of 16 December, six out of ten libraries across Scotland had not reopened following the first lockdown in March. Eight local authorities reported having no open libraries before the latest lockdown restrictions kicked in.

Scottish Labour has warned of the impact library closures have on the elderly, who often rely on the facilities to access the internet, and the party is calling on the Scottish Government to provide local councils with the support they need to ensure elderly people are not isolated with no online access.

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Scottish Labour local government spokesperson Sarah Boyack said: “Libraries are at the heart of local communities and play a vital role in the lives of elderly people in particular. I have had elderly constituents contact me in distress over their inability to access library services, leading to worries over bill payments and social interaction.”

She added: “Regretfully public health measures have necessitated the closure of some libraries, but much more needs to be done to ensure elderly people are not isolated and unable to access the internet. Libraries also allow those without computers at home to access the internet, and with it vital services such as GP appointments and social security services. It’s time for the SNP government to face up to this connectivity crisis and support local authorities to ensure that our elderly people are able to get by during this pandemic.”

Sam Trendall

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