EMERGENCY food supplies could be distributed from Glasgow's libraries to help families stricken by poverty, it was claimed today.

Glasgow SNP councillor David McDonald has called on the city's leaders to widen the range of services offered by libraries.

He said this could include the loan of electrical goods or small-scale food banks to help families who are struggling to put meals on the table.

Benefit cuts, unemployment and rising living costs have led to an increase in the numbers of Scots using food banks.

There is already at least one service in the Govanhill area of Glasgow, handing out emergency supplies of food, one in Renfrewshire and one in Inverclyde.

Earlier this year the Evening Times revealed how starving shoplifters in the north of the city were being referred to food banks by police.

Chief Inspector Ann Hughes, of Maryhill police, said some of the thieves – including a pensioner caught trying to take three tins of salmon –needed help from charities rather than trouble from the courts.

Figures show shoplifting incidents soared by 14% in the city during 2011-12.

Councillor McDonald said he was keen to explore the idea of turning the city's 33 libraries into Share Centres, where the public could access a wider range of goods and services for loan.

He said home services, such as plumbing, could also be made available for the elderly and vulnerable.

Councillor McDonald said: "Libraries are, and will continue to be, key community resources which many people rely on and cherish.

"But, as with any offering, we need to look at how they can deliver a more effective service to users.

"There are many ways in which libraries can strengthen their links with communities.

"By operating library Share Centres, local people could gain access to goods and services which may be unavailable to them individually."

SHE added: "In these difficult times it may be that small-scale food banks could be accommodated in libraries.

"Local trades people could offer their time to assist elderly or vulnerable people.

"In certain areas of the city our libraries are strong, but in other areas there may be a need to support them to adapt.

"In any case, libraries remain a key element of local communities and any steps to build on their foundations are to be welcomed. I would encourage citizens to lobby the council and Glasgow Life on the potential for using libraries in different ways."

A spokesman for Glasgow Life said: "Glasgow Libraries are already at the heart of the communities they serve and work with local people to offer all kinds of opportunities which go beyond the traditional role of libraries and we are already working to increase the amount of community services they offer in 2013.

"Literacy and numeracy classes, assistance for job seekers, bounce and rhyme sessions for toddlers, access to the internet and millions of books and the introduction of online services and an e-book service for members are just some of the ways libraries are getting involved with communities.

"Macmillan Cancer Relief and Glasgow Libraries are widening access to cancer information and support to all 33 libraries throughout the city."