MSP Kate Forbes with SLIC Chair Ian Ruthven

The Minister for Public Finance & Digital Economy Kate Forbes has launched a new network of business hubs in public libraries aimed at inspiring and supporting entrepreneurs.

The Scottish Coworking Network has been developed by the Scottish Library and Information Council with Scottish Government funding and is aimed at providing local entrepreneurs, freelance workers, sole traders and start-ups with dedicated space to work, meet and collaborate.

The project sits at the heart of the national strategy for public libraries, Ambition and Opportunity - a national strategy for public libraries in Scotland 2015-2020, which reinforces the role public libraries play in supporting employability, innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity. It is one of a number of innovative projects that demonstrate the transformation of the public library service in Scotland.

The hub at Edinburgh Central Library is one of the first to open, alongside Dunfermline Carnegie Library, with another four set to open in Troon, Inverness and Dundee in the coming months. Each hub offers membership for fixed desks and hot desks, with access to meeting rooms, online resources, a programme of professional development events and an online forum to support professional networking. 

Maximizing Business Support

The Edinburgh hub sold its capacity of fixed desk memberships within a few weeks of opening, demonstrating demand for new services in libraries and shared working space.

Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes said: “The Scottish Government is excited to support the Scottish Library and Information Council in its dynamic new approach to co-working within the library environment.

“As well as nurturing innovation, co-working hubs provide an excellent opportunity to maximise the support available to ambitious entrepreneurs and businesses who wish to collaborate and share ideas.

“Libraries are at the forefront of changing the way the public accesses important services, and this is another great example of how they are serving the needs of modern communities.”

Equal Access & Support

Pamela Tulloch, chief executive, SLIC added: “Scotland’s public libraries offer the perfect environment to support aspiring entrepreneurs.  Libraries are located at the heart of communities, they are connected, and offer an abundance of information and resources. The new hubs will offer equal access to a support structure that will help people turn their passions and ideas into sustainable employment.  They are ideal for small sole traders and those who may be currently running a small business from their kitchen or dining room table.

“We hope the presence of this resource in local libraries will encourage more people to consider self-employment by removing barriers, supporting innovation and providing practical tools and information. This project is further demonstration of the changing role of public libraries and how services are transforming to ensure they meet the needs of modern communities.”