With Libraries Week now in full swing the UK is celebrating libraries and all that they do. This ties in well with the Scottish Library and Information Council’s mission – enriching lives through libraries. Everything SLIC supports is built upon this philosophy and when you see what’s currently happening in Scotland’s libraries, you know it’s being brought to life.
Scotland is in the envious position of having a thriving library community. Last year public libraries in Scotland saw over 42 million visitors – that’s more people visiting Scottish public libraries than attending Scottish Premier League football matches or going to the cinema.
Over the last six months we have seen new or refurbished public libraries open in Banff, Wick, Grantown, Loanhead, Denny and Dunfermline in addition to rebranded mobile libraries in Orkney and East Ayrshire. Scotland’s universities have also been investing in their libraries with new facilities opening in Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. So there’s a lot to celebrate this Libraries Week.
Buildings are only part of the story, we all know its trained library staff which make the difference to delivering the fabulous services which library users access. Early years programmes ensure that children, from birth, have the full support of the library assisting them develop their language, listening and concentration skills to help them become school ready.
Reader development programmes such as the Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge have seen libraries building strong links with younger users and start that library habit which will see them through life. For young people interested in music, programmes such as Get It Loud In Libraries see bands playing in libraries out of hours and a planned programme of tours is now rolling out across Scotland’s public libraries.
Engaging health and wellbeing initiatives such as partnerships with Macmillan Cancer Information Support, NHS and Alzheimers Scotland have helped to make libraries the go-to place for health information. Both patients and carers can access information on health conditions at libraries, complementing the clinical support they receive. As a result third sector health support organisations are increasingly seeing libraries as the place to have a presence.
Scotland’s libraries have moved with the times. All public libraries are WiFi enabled and 3D printers are available in all of Scotland’s 32 public library services. University libraries have moved into this area too with Stirling and Edinburgh University libraries offering students dedicated Maker Spaces.
Libraries have always been about creativity and in this digital world they are still strongholds of innovation. Public library staff across Scotland are now trained to deliver Code Clubs for children and young people. The Clubs have seen young people from Shetland to the Borders join in the fun, developing skills which will take them through the 21st Century.
For many people, libraries are the places to find out about local history and in Scotland’s 2017 Year of History Heritage and Archaeology, libraries have ensured their unique selling point is promoted. The national reading initiative, Read the Past, Imagine the Future, has seen library users across Scotland enjoy reading materials which promote their heritage.
Ensuring Scotland’s history and heritage is accessible is now being further developed by the network of Wikimedians in Residence which have sprung up in Scotland’s library community. The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh University and Scotland’s public libraries are all working with their Wikimedians to ensure Wiki content actively showcases Scotland’s unique history and heritage. Our own SLIC Wikimedian is training public library staff throughout Scotland to upload content from their collections onto Wikipedia.
There is no doubt Scotland’s library community is thriving and a few tasters have been highlighted which showcase why this is. If you’ve not popped into a library for while then a visit is long overdue – there’s a world of possibilities waiting for you.