A new year and a new decade provides the opportunity to reflect on what has been happening with libraries in Scotland and also plan for the exciting things to come.
The last decade saw not only the publication of Scotland’s first public library strategy – Ambition and Opportunity - but also the publication of Scotland’s first school library strategy – Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools. Both strategies have raised the profile of libraries and seen additional spend support innovation and development. This is no small step in a world of shrinking or non-existent budgets. The profile of both school and public libraries has been raised and attracted new users for new services. SLIC is proud to be at the centre of the development and implementation of both these strategic documents.
At the heart of the success of the implementation of the strategies is partnership working. A strong range of partners supported the strategies to enable new, vibrant and engaging interpretations of the strategic aims.
Equity of access to public library services from Shetland to the Scottish Borders has seen offers around health and wellbeing amplified, digital inclusion embedded through the roll out of free public wifi, Code Clubs and 3D printers, cultural democracy personified through partnership with a range of organisations including Fun Palaces and Wikipedia, a reading strategy for Scotland introduced and coworking spaces piloted in some public libraries. These are just a few highlights outlining difference the strategy has made.
School libraries have had a light shone upon them as never before. On the back of the strategy a School Library Improvement Fund has been created, a self assessment tool – How Good Is Our School Library? - implemented and a professional learning community for school library staff created by Education Scotland. All this and more within a matter of months of Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools being published.
SLIC’s membership base is much broader than school and public libraries. One of the most enduring things from the last decade has been the way in which members across library sectors have collaborated to develop projects and initiatives through the SLIC’s funding portfolio. This shared knowledge has created ground breaking projects such as These Foolish Things (Remind me of You) - a partnership between the Scottish Poetry Library, public libraries and NHS libraries – and the Culture for Encounter toolbox which was a collaborative project between the libraries at the University of St Andrews, University of the West of Scotland, University of Glasgow and Fife Cultural Trust to mark A Year of Conversation 2019.
This brief overview illustrates that the SLIC membership and the library community in Scotland is in robust health. Libraries in Scotland are blessed with talented, creative and innovative staff. Strong partnership working has delivered and will continue to deliver for libraries. SLIC will continue to work to secure funding for libraries, especially around innovation.
As we move into a new decade, I look forward to the opportunities it will bring set against the endless possibilities which are there to be seized.