November 25, 2020

A National Strategy For Public Libraries in Scotland Published Today

The strategy document and supporting materials were released earlier today.

From the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC):

SLIC was asked by the CoSLA Arts and Culture Working Group to lead the development of a National Strategy for public libraries in Scotland. To support the development of the Strategy, SLIC convened a strategic group, the National Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland Strategic Group. The Strategy has been informed by a process of engagement including independent deliberative research, a questionnaire to gather views and a series of visits to public libraries.

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The strategy has been developed to re-invigorate the role and perception of libraries and in particular sets out how libraries can address the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. It builds on the strengths of public libraries as a network of over 600 library service points, visited over 28 million times a year and increasingly online, with a further 13.8 million virtual visits.

From the News Release:

The strategy sets out six strategic aims and 18 recommendations to build on the strong heritage of Scotland’s libraries. The strategic aims are to promote: reading, literacy and learning; digital inclusion; economic wellbeing; social wellbeing; culture and creativity; and to be excellent public services.

The 18 recommendations include:

  • Ensure wifi is available and accessible in all public libraries
  • Develop Scotland-wide digital access resources, such as one library card for the whole of Scotland, 24/7 access to virtual libraries and increase access to national and local digital library collections
  • Support librarians to become effective voices for freedom of information and expression
  • Explore alternative approaches for generating financial investment.

From the Strategy Working Group Home Page:

The National Strategy for Scottish Public Libraries Working Group has been tasked with the development of a National Strategy for Scotland’s public libraries. The Policy and Research Timeline outlines the main policy and research developments that have contributed to the case for a National Strategy for Scotland.

The Case For a National Strategy?

In 2012 the Carnegie UK Trust published A New Chapter, a report that touched on the various reasons why a National Strategy for public libraries is required. In 2014, The Scottish Library and Information Council developed a paper titled The Case for a National Strategy for Public Libraries.

These documents discussed how public libraries have limited national policy or leadership. This has led to a lack of a unified vision and set of services. This can inhibit public libraries’ ability to collectively deliver on strategic national policy objectives. This has the potential to weaken their position, and while they are statutory services which local authorities must provide, they are not championed in any particular national policy.

Furthermore, the current economic climate and drive to identify efficiency savings will put increasing pressure on public libraries across Scotland with many councils are having to make difficult decisions regarding funding.

Other challenges public libraries face relate to the fundamental changes which have taken place in the way in which information and knowledge is created and shared. With the increasing digitisation of information, the public library service needs to have a clear vision for a future in which providing knowledge through the medium of books becomes increasingly marginal. A national strategy would ensure public libraries’ continued relevance and enable them to both consolidate and co-ordinate their ability to deliver on key policy areas. In turn, this would help public libraries to make the case for continued funding.

A national strategy would also guarantee the delivery of a core service thereby ensuring a consistent message to the public about the purpose of, and services available at, public libraries.

Primary Document

Direct to Report: Ambition & Opportunity: A Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015-2020

Results from Your Views Survey

Direct to Executive Summary of Results from Your Views on Public Libraries Survey

Direct to Full Text of Final Report: Developing a National Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland: Deliberative Research With Library Users and Non-Users (51 pages; PDF)

Direct to Results from Deliberative Research

The Strategy Working Group page also provides a roster or members along with meeting dates and meeting minutes/presentations.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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