SLIC’s Digital Champions meet up throughout the year to discuss the latest digital innovations in libraries. This week Drew Bain from Forth Valley College talks about attending his first Digi Champ meeting as an observer and the discoveries he made.  


Hey, I’m Drew. I work in an academic library within the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) at Forth Valley College in our Falkirk campus. Prior to this I enjoyed working for public libraries in the Falkirk area both frontline in Meadowbank Library and behind the scenes in Library Support.

A keen follower of SLIC on Twitter, I saw their tweet about the Digital Champions meeting being held in June. This piqued my interest, both because we are always looking for innovative ways to promote and use digital resources, and we are currently in the process of introducing 3D printers to the LRC (*more on that later). I contacted SLIC and discovered it was a meeting for public libraries however they were really helpful and took my details, should the meetings welcome academic libraries in the future. I was delighted to later receive an invite to join the meeting as an observer.

Talks & Stand Ups

Held at CodeBase Edinburgh, we were treated to an interesting talk on the use of Chatbots in libraries as potential 24 hour online assistants, an inspiring showcase of the Not Without Me campaign by Carnegie Trust and an insightful talk on how to help our customers differentiate fake news from the real thing.

My favourite part of the day (and the part that made the biggest impression on me) was the Digital Champions Stand-up. This gave everyone in the room an opportunity to stand up for two minutes and talk about one of three pre-determined options. We could share an exciting digital development within our service, a new digital service or technology we are using, or simply a great idea we would love to steal from another library. My pen couldn’t keep up as I scribbled down the information I was hearing… DigiDabble, Netloan, Smart glass, humanoid robots, Serial Box. Every meeting should have this on the agenda.

Digi Networking

The meeting was also a fantastic opportunity to network and discover projects either planned or in place at libraries around Scotland. After talking over the phone and by email, it was great to finally meet with Stirling Libraries as I'll soon be working with the team on 3D printing workshops. After a chat and video demonstration of Stirling’s recent use of thermal touch and wood effect filament, next day back at work I was instantly researching this online! I look forward to talking again with Glasgow Libraries to gain further insight into their digital volunteer programme, South Lanarkshire Libraries to see how their plans for academic students gaining instant public library membership develop and Perth & Kinross Libraries about their intention to embrace Smart glass on their library windows!

Working Together

As the demand for digital grows, I hope more members from academic libraries get the chance to attend a Digital Champions meeting. Being able to observe was amazing and I believe a lot could be gained from meeting up with our public library kin.

We can only become stronger by coming together, sharing what we do well and getting to know and understand more about each other. Digital can be a difficult area to traverse at times as technology can change so fast and there are so many options. But perhaps we could problem solve the struggles together and most importantly celebrate the stories of our successes.


PS: As mentioned earlier, we are currently in the process of introducing 3D printers to our three campus LRCs. This comes after a successful IDF bid from SLIC (Thanks SLIC!). Our mission is to provide 3D printing access to all of our students regardless of their course choice. We are also joining together with our local public libraries in Falkirk and Stirling. We will run workshops in the LRC for student volunteers where they will become familiar with the 3D printers and work together to develop their own workshops that we will support them to deliver out in public libraries. The hope is that our students could continue to develop a future volunteering role with our public library cousins.