Public libraries are constantly evaluating the quality of their services and striving to meet the needs of 21st century users.

The How good is our public library service? (HGIOPLS) framework helps public libraries demonstrate the quality of these services and the impact they have on communities. It sits alongside Ambition & Opportunity, the public library strategy for Scotland, and the Public Library Improvement Fund as the cornerstones of developing and enhancing Scotland’s public libraries.  

Introduced in 2014, the HGIOPLS framework takes into account the changing environment in which public libraries currently operate. It focuses on planning, service delivery and continuous improvement in much the same way as other quality frameworks such as How good is our culture and sport? as well as How good is our school?


HGIOPLS is designed for public library managers and staff to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of their service provision. They can then identify areas for improvement and develop an improvement action plan. It uses five Quality Indicators (QIs) as a means of self-evaluation.

  • QI 1: Access to Information
  • QI 2: Readers' Experience
  • QI 3: Learning Culture
  • QI 4: Individual & Community Engagement
  • QI 5: Vision, Strategy & Continuous Improvement

A key aspect of HGIOPLS is the peer review. This is an effective quality-improvement mechanism widely used in many self-evaluation procedures. Reviewers act as part of the evaluation team, visiting the library service and examining the evidence. By inviting knowledgeable professionals to act as a ‘critical friend’, library services benefit from an informed and impartial assessment. To help with the peer review process SLIC has appointed a number of convenors to chair HGIOPLS peer reviews. They act as representatives of the Scottish Library and Information Council to ensure consistency and reliability.  


You will find everything you need to implement a quality improvement plan in our HGIOPLS Toolkit.

Read all the HGIOPLS guidance

Download all your HGIOPLS Templates

More info on the HGIOPLS documents

How library services have approached HGIOPLS