A new Scotland-wide libraries reminiscence project was launched last month at Rutherglen Library in South Lanarkshire.
With twenty-four regional library services signed up so far, this new phase involves the creation of Memory Groups in library venues across Scotland. These groups will bring together people from all walks of life to share conversation and company on a regular basis.
Like its predecessor Football Memories Scotland, the libraries project will use images and other materials to spark reminiscence among Memory Group participants.
Going beyond the original focus on sports, however, the library groups will access Scottish Libraries’ unique local studies collections via the Memories Scotland archive as well as materials shared by partners such as the National Library of Scotland. This means participants will be encouraged to recall wider social history themes, spanning working life and social life.
The project also reflects the role of libraries as accessible, welcoming spaces in our local communities. In the wake of the Covid pandemic, Memories Scotland aims to tackle social isolation and loneliness by bringing people together for informal group reminiscence. So while the new groups remain dementia-friendly, they will be open to all – and keen to engage a wider audience.
Pilot groups have already started meeting in several library venues with more planning local activity for the coming months. Groups will take different forms depending on local circumstances and libraries’ knowledge of their communities. The people who attend groups – the participants – will be encouraged to choose themes and topics, to ensure that sessions are engaging and worthwhile. This means no two Memory Groups will look the same: they will be delivered in a way which is locally meaningful, sustainable and reflective of participants’ needs and interests.
Against this local flexibility will be a networked approach to promote best practice and sharing of resources.
By providing libraries staff with a suite of materials the new Memories Scotland website is central to this approach. Partner libraries have access to a vast digital archive of social and sports history images, as well as the facility to create “lightbox” presentations to structure reminiscence sessions. The website also hosts a document library as well as the comprehensive Memories Scotland training which includes practical reminiscence, communication and digital skills.
Participating venues are also provided with the physical materials required to run Memory Groups, including posters, banners and appointment cards to help participants find the meetings. And partners will be encouraged to share their own knowledge and materials via the Memories Scotland website and through regular online meetings.
Like Football Memories Scotland, there are opportunities to become involved with the project as a volunteer. Several library services are currently recruiting volunteers to either lead or support Memory Groups in their venues.
Once Memory Groups are up-and-running, library services will be encouraged to participate in evaluation, to ensure the project is achieving its aims. This will include seeking feedback from participants to shape future developments.
As a partnership project, Memories Scotland benefits from the experience of both a variety of sectors and geographical spread. Overseeing the project is a Steering Group chaired by North Ayrshire Libraries with representation from East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture Trust, Falkirk Community Trust, Glasgow Life, South Ayrshire Libraries and South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Trust as well as the National Library of Scotland, the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre and both the Chair and Football Memories lead officer at the Scottish Football Museum. A Library Development Officer is working with library partners to coordinate their contributions to the archive and plan for the roll-out of new Memory Groups.
A short film, supported by the Scottish Football Museum, was produced to mark the launch of Memories Scotland. With contributions from staff, volunteers and participants, this film explains some of the history and hopes of this ambitious Scotland-wide project as it takes its next steps with Scottish Libraries. For more information, see www.memories.scot and follow the project on social media: