Jeanette Castle, University Librarian at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), has been appointed Chair of the newly established Public Library Strategy Advisory Group.

The group has been formed by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) to support the vision and implementation of a new public library strategy for Scotland from 2021, building on the work of Ambition and Opportunity: A Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015-2020.

The advisory group will make recommendations for the strategy and articulate a national vision for public libraries and how this can be achieved. The new five-year strategy will focus on people, place and partnerships and will also consider climate change and sustainability.

SLIC is preparing to invite 18 new members from across the libraries sector and other key sectors in Scotland to join the group to work with Jeanette Castle.

Jeanette Castle has 34 years’ experience in the library sector and has worked in public, school and higher education library services. She is passionate about the value that libraries can generate for communities and she was involved in the development of the first national public library strategy. During her career, Jeanette has been an advocate for innovation and has introduced a number of creative practices and initiatives, including the first cybercentre in Scotland at Carnegie Library in Ayr, strategic partnerships with the NHS to promote health literacy, introduction of the Macmillan Cancer information support service in West Lothian Libraries, and she was a founder member of the Ayrshire Libraries Forum.

She has been heavily involved in encouraging professional development by serving as President of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals Scotland (CILIPS) in 2015, and currently as Honorary Vice President. Jeanette has been an external examiner for the MSc Library and Information Studies at Robert Gordon University and previously was part of the CILIP Qualifications Assessment Panel. She is currently on the Business Committee of the Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries (SCURL).

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“Jeanette Castle is an excellent choice for chair of the newly established Public Library Strategy Advisory Group. I am looking forward to working with her and the Advisory Group to build on the successes of Ambition and Opportunity: A Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015-2020, and to ensure libraries stay at the heart of our communities.

“During these unprecedented times, libraries have remained committed to serving their communities and will play an important role in supporting them to recover. The Scottish Government places great importance on libraries to empower, to tackle inequality, and to reduce isolation.”

Pamela Tulloch, chief executive, SLIC said:

“This is a vital role that will provide robust governance to the development and implementation of the new national public library strategy. The group will be expected to monitor strategic direction and activity and ensure we are maintaining our goal of ongoing improvement of library services in Scotland. The current strategy – the first of its kind anywhere in the UK – has been a huge success and has driven significant transformation within public libraries, ensuring they remain modern and relevant to communities, while staying true to their founding ethos.

“Jeanette will bring a valuable perspective to the future of library services and their ongoing development. Her vast sector experience means she will consider the strategy from a member experience and service delivery point of view, as well as the importance of excellent management and people development.”

Jeanette Castle said:

“I believe libraries have the power to make a difference in people's lives through free, equal and open access to reading, learning and information. Public libraries in Scotland have transformed their services in the last five years following the direction laid out in the current strategy. I’m keen that we continue to build on that and ensure libraries adapt and modernise to meet the evolving needs of communities.”

The new strategy is expected to be published in summer 2021.