A blog from young person Miryn Doyle, who has been involved in SLIC’s partner project with Young Scot ‘The Next Chapter’, looking at young people’s engagement with libraries in Scotland.

The Next Chapter Panel formed in November 2017 with the hope of reviewing library services in Scotland and sharing views on what was most important to young people when considering and using the services in their local library. As a main objective of this project we were asked to review SLIC’s library strategy and suggest recommendations of our own to share. We had to consider barriers that affected young people and subsequently affected their ability to use library services. These included a wide variety of different things including: struggles with opening times, believing they didn’t need to use the library, and not finding libraries “cool enough”. This really got us thinking about what we could recommend to combat these barriers and allow young people to feel more confident about using their local library. We wanted young people to know that libraries do matter.

Teamwork and Collaboration

In order to succeed on this project, all of the members would have to work together effectively to produce findings that would benefit young people now, and in the future.

Luckily, we had an insight into many different opinions of libraries as the members on our panel were so diverse and unique; we all had our different strengths, uses for libraries and interests. Throughout the time on the project, we had between 10-13 members from all over Scotland, including places such as Fife and Glasgow. Our ages varied also, between the ages of 13-25 years old, and due to this we had all been through different stages of our lives (e.g. one of our members was a parent) and this allowed us to really effectively review services from the widest variety of perspectives possible.

A Range of Experiences

From the moment we met we all got on very well and worked effectively as a team. Most of us had experience in libraries which helped us to bring initial ideas to the table, however some of us had little to no experience in libraries, and this was just as useful as we managed to take everybody’s opinions into account and see what we could recommend to encourage those who didn’t use library services to make use of their local library. As expected, the views varied between different members of the panel, and so we worked together to evaluate what we believed as a collective. This allowed us to narrow down our ideas and focus on main recommendations for SLIC.

Recommendations for the Future

Along with our own recommendations as a panel, we collected information from young people across Scotland through surveys. We conducted a survey that each of our panel members gave to people from their geographical area and we collated these results with the findings from the survey by SLIC and Young Scot. This allowed us to further develop the points we believed were the most important in accordance to what other young people were telling us as well. It was very reassuring to realise that for the most part, opinions and ideas were being repeated between surveys and geographical areas. This easily allowed us to see what the most important services for young people and what they would really like to see in the future.

My experience on this project has been a very positive one: I have met new friends that I will no doubt have for life, and I have been given the opportunity to explore new places with beautiful libraries. My confidence has improved, and I have gained skills that will carry with me throughout higher education and beyond. However, the most important thing I will take away from this experience is the knowledge that I have made a positive impact on library services for my fellow young people today, and for those in the future.