This month for the PLIF blog Gillian Price from East Dunbartonshire Leisure & Culture Trust talks about their Creative Community Hub project. The PLIF funded project has helped to create a new flexible space within the Lennoxtown Community Hub.
Creative Community Hub was developed from the foundations of ‘Art Works for Libraries’ Book Week Scotland 2014. As Lennoxtown Library was soon to become part of a new East Dunbartonshire Council Hub, the PLIF project aimed to highlight the importance of the library and its anchor-like status within the village, while producing visible artworks in partnership with an artist.
As a team we were looking to support and engage the community to embrace the new building and the services within. EDLC Cultural Services worked with the contractors to ensure a welcoming environment which included a new flexible space. This in turn would increase the number of reasons people felt they had to visit the local library. In February 2016 the Lennox Room was opened as part of the new library facilities.
If you create a space you must create interest within it. We had something different in the new library; it was our job to deliver an experimental programme of activity while supporting the key aims of SLIC through nurturing personal development in a safe, free environment. This directly linked to Strategic Aim 5 of Ambition & Opportunity: A Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015-2020, which focuses on Libraries Promoting Culture & Creativity.
Creative Community Hub focused on adult learning - aiming to develop and enhance health and wellbeing through creativity.
We organised a series of events to encourage people to try new things - from 3D printing, design and creative writing to arts & crafts, events and discussion groups.
We chose activities to target members of the community who perhaps felt a library didn’t cater for their needs. This gave us the opportunity to help them re-engage with us.
Focusing on skills also allowed us to connect and tailor courses to the needs and interests of participants. Once people began to attend, they gained the confidence to ask facilitators for courses to run for longer and focus more of specific skills.
It was the perfect engagement and supporting these groups revealed their willingness to take control. This was evident within the creative writing class who continue with their writing and now book the space independently. The newly formed Campsie Writers have been confident enough to display members’ work in the library to promote the group.
Our Creative Arts & Crafts group sampled a range of taster skills which changed each week. The confidence growing from the group again fashioned strong opinions and students asked to revisit some sessions to investigate skills further. One example of this was an introduction to printing. An additional two day course was written and delivered as part of the wider Get Creative – Adult Summer School.
Community Hubs are fast becoming the favoured format to deliver direct essential services for communities and many have libraries at their centre.
East Dunbartonshire is no different. The Lennoxtown Creative Community Hub was a trial, a trial to see if users would return and be willing to engage with these new spaces in a different way.
The success of the Hub demonstrates these communal destinations work and people like the idea of a free-flowing community space.
It’s our job to continue this onto the next Hub, helping bring users to be messy, loud and creative and to show off work to be proud of.