Scotland's first national public library strategy was launched in 2015. Since the creation of Ambition and Opportunity: A Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015-2020 almost £5million has been invested in Scotland's public libraries to help develop services.
The strategy has enabled key partners and stakeholders to engage with the library sector and support its overall goals. Moreover, it has brought a positive focus and energy to the library community. Our public libraries are demonstrating tremendous strength and resilience, proving they have a key part to play in Scotland’s economic, political, social and cultural life.
The strategy is steered by an advisory group which is made up of strategic leads and key stakeholders. The group meets regularly to discuss the continuing progress of the strategy and plan for the future.
In early 2019 the Ambition & Opportunity Refresh was published, highlighting the steady progress which has been made since the launch of the original strategy. The Refresh reaffirms the fact that visits to Scotland's libraries continue to grow against a tough financial backdrop.
SLIC has played a leading role in shaping the direction of the Strategy refresh and the renewed strategic recommendations. As part of this process, SLIC commissioned Young Scot to produce a co-design The Next Chapter to ensure Young People's views were represented. As with other public services in Scotland, this is a time of significant transition with increasing pressure on local authorities to reduce their spending levels and prioritise services. The Refresh looks at where we are today and how we can prepare Scotland's public libraries for the future.
Ambition & Opportunity sets out six key strategic aims. Each aim is clearly linked to national outcomes and indicators outlined in the Scottish Government's National Performance Framework (NPF). Click on each aim below to find out more.
'Public libraries in Scotland promote education and learning for all, develop a culture for reading and pleasure, offer support for everyone from early years to older people and enable people to make enformed choices.'
One of the defining characteristics of the public library service is that they are open to all. No-one is turned away from a public library, no joining fee is required and anyone can make use of the library space. It is essential this is preserved.
'Public libraries in Scotland make best use of digital technologies to deliver high quality, efficient and responsive services, enabling access to information and services wherever and whenever citizens want them.'
The way we access information is changing and public library services need to develop to ensure they are providing the most relevant digital resources.
'Public libraries in Scotland contribute to Scotland's economic wellbeing, supporting jobseekers, offering courses in digital skills, language courses and support for small businesses.'
Libraries help jobseekers find opportunities and apply for jobs online. They run job clubs, offer courses in digital skills training and offer advice and support for the development of small businesses. At the same time they can help people make the most of their income.
'Public libraries in Scotland contribute to social wellbeing, tackling social isolation, inequality, disadvantage, fractured communities and ill health.'
Libraries provide an important space and resource for many disadvantaged people in a non-judgmental, public space, open to all.
'Public libraries in Scotland promote their role as cultural centres, inspiring people through books and literature, music, film and theatre and encourage creativity.'
Public libraries are increasingly used for a wide range of cultural activities, from concerts and films to theatre and creative makerspaces.
'Public libraries must be supported to continuously improve their services.'
As in so many areas of public service, what is measured is what matters. Scottish public libraries need to move from measuring inputs towards methods of measuring participation and impact.