SLIC Policy Officer Scott Fraser talks about his work informing and monitoring the outcomes of Ambition and Opportunity: A Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015 – 2020.


Hi, I’m Scott Fraser, Policy Officer here at SLIC. My job revolves around project planning and delivery, working to inform and monitor the outcomes of Ambition and Opportunity: A Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015 – 2020.

I don’t have a library background so the past six months has been a steep learning curve as I waded through the acronyms from APLS to HGIOPLS. It turns out HGIOPLS is not an ancient god of storing knowledge and APLS do not fall from trees.

On a serious note though, it is clear that a vast amount of work has gone into creating the first national strategy for public libraries across Scotland. There are six strategic aims that are listed with recommendations next to the relevant national outcomes. Everything is aligned and easy to understand meaning everyone in the public library world can look at it and see where they are contributing to the outcomes.

The Secret to Success

The secret to a successful strategy is always in the execution and we are making great progress in this area. Each of the six strategic aims has a strategic lead; a person acting as a lead and ambassador who is responsible for gathering up as much information and case studies as possible. Not an easy task when you see the amount of great work that is happening in hundreds of libraries across the country. The opportunity has firmly been grasped by public libraries and the real challenge is trying to keep up!

Strategic leads are responsible for public libraries in a local authority area and are a member of the Association of Public Libraries in Scotland. It has been a great pleasure getting to know them and working with them on topics ranging from Digital Play to Wi-Fi and co-working spaces for small businesses to community engagement and empowerment.

Looking Ahead

Over the past few months we have introduced new project management software that will help us to work together and share information, resources and most importantly, ideas! We are now busy adding people to our project teams, trying to get as many people as possible engaged and involved in Ambition and Opportunity.

I was fortunate to attend a workshop with the Association of Public Libraries in Scotland (APLS) where the focus was on Strategic Aim 6 – Excellent Public Services. I was amazed at the number of great examples of current practice that are putting libraries at the front and centre of delivering excellent public services across Scotland.

Of course, this group of librarians are not content with what’s currently on offer, they want to take it to the next level again. We thrashed out ways that staff development can be enhanced, explored alternative sources of generating financial investment and looked at ways in which goods and services can be bought more efficiently at a national level.

As I sit here and write, my thoughts are now starting to turn to next week where we will begin formulating the next workshop that will take place at the end of May. This time the focus will be on Strategic Aim 5 – Libraries promoting culture and creativity. I can only imagine where this will take us and the more I imagine the more excited I get. Whoever picked the title ‘Ambition and Opportunity’ got it spot on.