Library Focus Scotland’s new blueprint

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SLIC’s Tulloch on Scotland’s five-year libraries blueprint

A new strategy for Scotland’s libraries in a post-pandemic world has been developed after learning lessons from how libraries are used overseas

Sian Bayley @sleighbayley


cotland’s new public library strategy has been developed with the help of countries all over the world, including Denmark, Australia and the US, and will seek to make libraries the key to helping people and their communities recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Revealing the five-year strat-

egy, the chief executive of the Scotish Library & Information Council (SLIC), Pamela Tulloch

pictured leſt, said the three strate- gic aims were “people, place and partnership”. The 2021 to 2025 Forward strategy recognises that libraries contribute to people’s reading, literacy and wellbeing and are welcoming spaces for people to borrow books as well as meet like-minded people and learn new skills. Because of this, they can support communities with partnerships alongside health and education bodies. The existing health and wellbeing offer from libraries is estimated to bring a cost saving to NHS Scotland of £3.2m each year. Speaking about the popularit of libraries in Scotland, Tulloch told The Bookseller that in 2019 there were more than 40 million visits to libraries in Scotland, including both physical and virtual visits. “That’s prety high for a population which is 5.5 million,” she said. “People who use them use them a lot but we want to reach the people who don’t use them because they’re missing a trick. There’s so much for them to enjoy. We know there are harder-to-reach groups and we certainly want to get them involved in libraries as well in the next five years. Equalit, diversit and inclusion is very much at the heart of the new strategy. “We have really been able to

tap into what’s been happen- ing in library development across the globe to shape this strategy,” Tulloch added. The team was particularly impressed with Australia’s “data-driven” approach to its library offer and use of ID management systems to measure the impact of new promotions. “It’s about that business-like approach to managing the public offer, which improves the customer experi- ence. So we’re very keen to see the data-driven service improve- ment be more widely adopted than it currently is,” she said. In the US, libraries oſten have music practice rooms or sewing spaces available. “It’s that access where people get to try things that they can’t afford to try for themselves, like using

3D printers,” said Tulloch. “The library gives people the opportu- nit to experiment—quite oſten you don’t know if you’re good at things if you’ve never had the opportunit to try.” In Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, “they were very much about celebrating communit and giving people flexible space”, Tulloch said. “The book offer is definitely there but how people use the libraries in Scandinavia is very much down to them. For example, in some of the libraries they use outdoor space for mini allotments where people can come together to grow produce for communities. The big library in Aarhus is called ‘the cit’s living room’. It’s very much there for citizens to use as they wish.”

People who use [libraries] use them a lot, but we want to reach the people who don’t use them... There’s so much to enjoy Pamela Tulloch, SLIC c.e.o.

Led by SLIC and delivered by public library services, the new strategy will contribute to nine out of 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve a more sustainable future for all by 2030. Tulloch said Scotish libraries are “really looking forward” to activities such as film clubs starting up again as the country reopens and adds there is lots to look forward to next year, with 2022 designated as Scotland’s “year of stories”. Accordingly, a new “reading moment” campaign will be launched to encourage people to read for six minutes a day to improve their mental health. “Post-pandemic, we’re really helping communities to rebuild. Libraries are pivotal to that,” Tulloch said.


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