Our Policy Officer Scott Fraser talks about the ongoing progress of Ambition & Opportunity this week, focusing on Strategic Aims 3 and 5 of Scotland's first national strategy for public libraries. SLIC is working closely with the Association of Public Libraries Scotland to deliver the key aims.


The work on the national strategy, Ambition and Opportunity: A Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015 – 2020, continues apace and over the past few months there’s been a great deal of work that will set the scene for the next two and a half years.

Ambition & Opportunity: Strategic Aim 5

Since my last blog, I’ve travelled to Arbroath to meet with the Association of Public Libraries Scotland (APLS) where a workshop on Strategic Aim 5, Culture and Creativity, was held. This was a really positive day which culminated in lots of great ideas being captured to be worked into the overall strategic action plan.

Heads of Public Libraries from all over Scotland came together to thrash out what and where we should focus our efforts on in order to deliver a key aim of the first ever national strategy for public libraries in Scotland. We discussed developing and strengthening partnerships with arts and culture organisations building on all of the hard work to date. Supporting librarians to become effective voices for freedom of information and expression really got the room going and I’m looking forward to working with the strategic lead to pull all of this together into an action plan.

Next up: Strategic Aim 3

The next meeting of the APLS is going to focus on Strategic Aim 3, Economic Wellbeing, where we will discuss partnerships with advice centres, job centres and enterprise organisations. There will be a particular focus on STEM skills and the potential impacts of universal credit on public libraries throughout the country.

The work on improving STEM skills includes the great work public libraries are doing around coding. You may well be aware that earlier this year, SLIC delivered code club training to over 150 library staff across Scotland who have since delivered code clubs to hundreds of children. This is a great example of the national strategy in action and also of the direct positive impact that it has on communities across the country. Measuring the impact and evaluating the success of the work within Strategic Aim 3 will be a real priority and something that the strategic lead is really keen to get out of the day.

Measuring Impact

Speaking of impact, one of my other challenges is getting a handle on the impact of 3D printers and the roll out to every library service in Scotland. I only need to have a look at my twitter feed to see the great examples of librarians using these 3D printers – running children’s competitions, making models or incorporating them into existing groups and classes.

Understanding impact and how to measure it is one of the most important tasks an organisation can undertake. It’s how we make decisions on our activities, adjusting accordingly so that we achieve our goals and objectives. It’s also how an organisation demonstrates to funders, stakeholders and service users the importance it has to the communities it serves. Not an easy task, but one that all connected with SLIC and the national strategy are up for!