Strategic Aims Supported

1.2 Improve wellbeing and support post COVID-19 recovery with programs which target health, economic growth, and strengthen communities

2.2 Design library services which reach the heart of communities and engage with new audiences

3.1 Develop partnerships which support more resilient, fairer, healthier communities

The Project

Libraries at Play eventLibraries at play was a project delivered in partnership with East Lothian Play Association.

The aim was to develop targeted play sessions aimed at encouraging bonding and communication within families referred by partners. The project also aimed to encourage new family audiences into Prestonpans and Tranent Libraries.

Play Sessions led by East Lothian Play Association (ELPA) were supported weekly at Prestonpans Library from April 2022 – July 2022 and have continued to supported by library staff.  Weekly sessions supported by ELPA started at Tranent Library in October 2022 with Tranent Library staff continuing to offer this throughout 2023.

Library staff have gained significant experience in child-led play enabling them to consider their approach in all other library activities. Prestonpans now have a small group of Junior Librarians assisting with stock selection, library displays and providing activity ideas.

 The striking impression now is just how child-led the sessions have become and how comfortable the children are going in and out of the library. For example, they pop in for a while to sit inside; we found a ladybird so they looked for an insect book inside.”
Project Summary

Libraries at play posterPrestonpans Library have continued PlayJam sessions and will be working on developments to the library garden through a new Eco Club following feedback from children and families attending PlayJam.

Most of the resources used in the sessions, particularly outside have been recycling or loose parts and this continues to reassure parents that play can be sustainable and cost effective.

Families engaging with speech and language have been attending the sessions and the inclusivity of sessions has been a real success.

To further encourage inclusivity, PlayJam formed part of three summer sessions run by East Lothian Education Support Officers over summer 2022 working on early literacy with Ukrainian families new to East Lothian. This was supported by ELPA and library staff.

  • Families attending PlayJam sessions have joined and are using the library.
  • New borrowers in the period April 22-September 22 at Prestonpans were up 159% on the same period in 2021 and 95% on 2019.
  • Junior Book issues at Prestonpans were up 215% from April 22-September 22 on the same period in 2021 and 256% on 2019.
  • Play leader observations saw a continued improvement in the flow between play and library throughout the weeks.