For National Coworking Day, Project Manager Peter Gilchrist talks about the coworking project for libraries in this week’s SLIC blog.
Coworking is not a new term. In 2005 several coworking operations started up in San Francisco as a response to the climbing real estate prices and the need for a less structured approach to office space. At its basic principles, coworking is a group of individuals who come together to share overheads as a community. In practice, it means that businesses, entrepreneurs, artists and enterprises can come together to share rent and bills as a community.
So why a national network of coworking spaces in Scotland’s libraries? There are over 500 libraries in Scotland. They sit, tucked away, in our cities, towns and villages. They have access to Wi-Fi, they’re accessible and they’re central. Libraries have always existed to act as a source of information and provide a space for learning. As the provision of information has changed, and the needs of the population has changed, libraries have evolved. Coding clubs, community group meet-ups, 3D printing facilities and makerspaces are just some of the examples of how libraries are changing with the times. Coworking is next.
Who is going to benefit? This project aims to introduce coworking across Scotland, by offering office spaces for some of the 11,000 enterprises that are started every year. Young entrepreneurs and start-ups business owners will be able to bounce ideas off their coworkers and begin to build a professional network of people. If you have ever worked from a home office before, you will know how isolating and distracting it can be. We will provide you with an environment that will let you concentrate on growing your businesses. Working with our partners, you will also have access to business support, training and development workshops. Most importantly, your coworking membership will open up a national network of spaces that you are able to book. You can be a start-up in Inverness and book a desk in Edinburgh one day and Ayr the next. As this project grows, we hope to develop a coworking provision in every local authority, allowing our membership to grow their businesses all over Scotland.
As a country, we have never placed more importance on the message that the world should invest in Scotland. Visit Scotland’s #ScotlandIsNow campaign is pulling our nation into the global spotlight. We are world renowned for our hospitality, our technology and our powerhouse industries. By offering a national coworking network to visiting professionals we hope that we can also establish Scotland as a country of enterprise. We want to elevate Scotland as a nation to bring your business to. A country where entrepreneurs can thrive.
While our country is leading in computer literacy and internet coverage, our rural communities can appear distant and disconnected. A national coworking network will give our rural communities the same chance to promote themselves as destinations to live, work, study and invest in.
As more and more information is digitised, many libraries are finding themselves with out of date stock. Our capital funding goes to updating libraries and developing facilities. Introducing coworking spaces will make rural libraries indispensable and city libraries more impactful. The largest percentage of membership fees will go back to the library services, which they can use to reinvest in stock, staff and facilities. Coworking has the capacity to provide libraries with a long-term solution to their increasingly tight budgets.
We have the potential to create an offering that will give a platform for our young entrepreneurs, develop our enterprises, support our industries, and elevate Scotland as a country which invests in its people. It will keep our libraries open and make them more relevant than ever for the next generation of digital innovators.