Five Scottish public library services have been selected to take part in a pioneering project managed by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC).

Libraries in Aberdeen, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Perth & South Ayrshire will be the first to create ‘Lend and Mend Hubs’ to help their communities to repair, reuse, rent and upcycle everyday items. The library services will offer free access for everyone to keep items in use for longer, rather than them being thrown away.

The project is funded by The John Lewis Partnership’s £1 million Circular Future Fund and will build on the current offering. The libraries were selected for their wide geographical spread and diverse community reach. Aberdeen Central Library, South West Library in Inverclyde, Gorebridge Library in Midlothian, A K Bell Library in Perth and Girvan Library in South Ayrshire will make up a ‘network’ of sustainable, circular hubs situated across Scotland.

Lend & Mend Hubs

Sewing MachineEarlier this year, SLIC’s pioneering ‘Lend and Mend Hubs’ proposition was announced as one of just four UK projects selected to receive funding from the John Lewis Partnership’s Circular Future Fund.

Having now selected five public library partners, SLIC will use the fund for the equipment, training and space upgrades needed to deliver these promising projects. It is expected SLIC will also support a further three public library ‘Lend and Mend Hubs’ as part of this pilot scheme.

Pamela Tulloch, chief executive of SLIC, said: “Receiving over 40 million visits every year, the Scottish public are familiar with borrowing from libraries but don’t always have the opportunity to extend this circular thinking to other aspects of their lives, for example how they use household goods and clothing.

“And at a time when all of Scotland’s communities are experiencing economic and environmental challenges, the introduction of this network will build on the important role our public libraries provide, giving people access to resources they might not otherwise have to support responsible consumption and learning, locally and free. 

“With the first phase of library partners selected, we can’t wait to see these local library services transform and thrive for the long-term benefit of us all.”

The projects, led by SLIC, will follow a co-design approach with all service teams bringing local knowledge and expertise to the delivery to ensure each hub is tailored to community needs. Upon completion, each hub will also introduce an education programme to support new skills development, helping to reduce inequality through equitable access to resources.

George Barrett, Sustainability Manager Circular Economy at John Lewis Partnership, said: “It's brilliant to see the progress that Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) has made over the past few months from the Circular Future Fund. The spaces that SLIC are providing for their local communities will play a vital role in bringing people together, upskilling communities and allowing wider access to educational materials for everyone. We're looking forward to seeing the spaces thrive."

Pamela added: “These inspirational public libraries have the potential to create a real impact and will provide valuable learnings in promoting the urgent need to adopt a more circular way of living. We hope this pilot will help develop a long-term model for libraries to be a hub of circular economy activities.”

It is expected the public libraries selected in this first phase - Aberdeen, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Perth and South Ayrshire - will open their ‘Lend and Mend Hubs’ for public use in early 2023.