The Public Library Improvement Fund distributed over £200,000 to 11 Scottish public library services in 2021. The annual fund supports a wide range of creative and innovative library projects and is administered by SLIC on behalf of the Scottish Government.

This year priority was given to projects which demonstrated how libraries can promote sustainable development and help tackle climate change. Successful projects also had a direct link to one or more of the Strategic aims set out in Forward: Scotland’s Public Library Strategy 2021-2021.

Awards included the Eco-Ableism project by West Lothian Libraries which will research barriers people in the community with disabilities face in living greener, more sustainable lives. South Ayrshire Libraries' Climate Hubs initiative also received funding to establish a Hub in every public library in the area to encourage more awareness of climate change issues.     

You can find details of the individual Public Library Improvement Fund Awards below. You can learn more about PLIF, including how to apply, by visiting our Public Library Improvement Fund page. Our PLIF FAQ page also features a comprehensive list of of questions about the Fund. 

PLIF 2021 Public Library Projects

Libraries at Play

Award: £5,500

The aim of this project is to establish targeted play sessions with encourage bonding and communication within families referred by partners as well as introduce new family audiences into the library.

It will also develop the play skills and experience of library staff to ensure long-term sustainability of the project. Overall goals include strengthening relationships with partners and improving the support given to families in the community. 

The Root Cause Project

Award: £14,240

The Root Cause Project aims to harness collective community action to transform an outdoor space at Thornliebank Library. This will then provide a sustainable community allotment and multi-functional space.

The transformation will be the catalyst for a year-long programme of focussed events and activities designed to provoke reactions, spark conversations, and empower individuals to take positive actions towards greener libraries and a greener East Renfrewshire.

Books and Beats

Award: £5,500

Books and Beats focuses on using social media and local dance tutors to encourage highland communities to get active in libraries. The aim is to encourage health and wellbeing through a programme of physical and mental activity incorporating dance and books through TikTok and BookTok.

The project will engage with traditionally hard to reach audiences by working with partners to identify individuals who want to be involved. Through the use of national programmes such as Bookbug and local initiatives such as Movers and Shakers, the project will also encourage a life-long love of learning, literacy, and movement. 

Play Together

Award: £17,600

Play Together will offer toys, play and outdoor learning opportunities to families who may not otherwise have access to them. 

The project ensures Inverclyde Libraries is embedding the sustainable agenda, and their role as a Climate Beacon, into library programming. 

Fintry Tool Library

Award: £1,404

The Fintry Tool Library encourages community growth and wellbeing by providing a selection of borrowable resources, such as books and tools, that can be taken out of the library and used in the local community garden.

This will facilitate and promote the development of a community led experience and work in conjunction with local volunteers and other similar groups within Dundee.

The garden will grow sustainable food and teach children and adults alike the benefits of gardening for their physical and mental health. Borrowable resources will make gardening accessible to all regardless of their circumstances.

What's Your Story 

Award: £29,800

What’s your Story will capture, preserve, and share 22 stories of local people from North Ayrshire's diverse communities as part of their own wellbeing and recovery from the pandemic. 

The project will build a historical archive for future generations to access and learn about responses to this moment in time.

Culture & Heritage Connections 

Award: £14,800

The key aim of this project is to re-engage audiences with their local library service and give staff the opportunity to participate in new ways of working. This will help extend the reach and impact of the service within the local community with a view to increasing engagement with the core library offer. 

Culture & Heritage Connections will deliver new artist-led experiences connecting participants with local culture and heritage, and support them while learning new skills. Staff will also participate in wider community engagement training to support new ways of working with their communities to build back audiences and drive-up use of library services.

Jock Tamson's Bairns 

Award: £9,200

This project will provide a carefully curated selection of books, eBooks/eAudio, audio books, and online and physical resources to educate and empower readers to engage with social justice issues and inform them of their Human Rights.

The resources will challenge children and young adults up to 25-years-old to think about themes of equality, diversity, social justice issues and human rights. The project itself will complement last year’s Read Woke School Library Improvement Fund project in South Ayrshire Secondary Schools by taking it to a wider more diverse community.

Climate for Change 

Award: £26,610

Climate Hubs will be created within each South Ayrshire library to highlight and promote better awareness of the impact human behaviour has on existing natural resources and the planet.

They will be used to equip and inform local communities with the facts they need to live environmentally responsible lives. The Hubs will use literature focusing on ways to reduce your carbon footprint, as well as encourage recycling and upcycling. Events, workshops and talks are also planned to bring local groups together and explore ways of creating positive change within local communities.

Making a Difference

Award: £46,568

The Making a Difference research project will explore how a freely accessible, well-equipped maker space with trained, friendly library staff can improve wellbeing and support post-COVID recovery with programmes that target health, economic growth and strengthen communities.

Stirling has two maker spaces opening in libraries in 2022 and another planned, all located in disadvantaged communities. Findings will contribute to Stirling Council Libraries and Archives future strategy and benefit the wider library sector, enabling greater understanding of the user experience, enhancing applications for further funding and expansion.

Towards a Sustainable Future

Award: £21,435

This project seeks to appoint a Sustainability Co-ordinator – a new role within West Dunbartonshire Libraries. The Sustainability Co-ordinator will take the lead on proposing and embedding alternative sustainable practices within the library service itself, alongside actively engaging with the wider public and stakeholders to reflect on the environmental impact of their actions and help them make informed choices. 

Through a dedicated programme of community workshops, talks and other activities (such as organised litter picking and repair cafés), it is anticipated that the Sustainability Co-ordinator for West Dunbartonshire Libraries can capitalise on the environmental focus of COP26 to create lasting local change to a more sustainable future.


Award: £6000

The project aims to research the challenges and barriers that people in West Lothian with disabilities face in trying to live greener, more sustainable, lifestyles. The library service will work with disabled groups to identify the difficulties disabled people face in their daily life choices, exploring how this impacts their ability to engage with the policies and changes that will be part of the COP26 agenda.

Importantly, it will explore ways that disabled people can have a voice in the agenda setting of policies, thus ensuring they are not marginalised when new sustainable developments require changes to lifestyle choices and commitments.