Scottish Government Library blog


CILIPS Autumn Gathering. 20th October 2016, Glasgow

Always a highlight of my work calendar, this year’s Autumn Gathering was a full and varied day with plenty of interest to this government librarian.  And of course a great place to meet those colleagues I’ve only worked with via phone or email over the year.

CILIPS has uploaded some presentations and photos from the conference and there was plenty of Tweetage to get a sense of what the hot topics were. Here are my key points from the day:

Keynote talk on ‘Library as Third Place’ – Diane Bruxvoort, University of Aberdeen Librarian and Director
Wikipedia defines Third Place as the social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home (“first place”) and the workplace (“second place”). Examples of third places would be environments such as cafes, clubs or parks.  Diane explained how the Sir Duncan Rice Library opened in 2012 has embraced the concept of a library as third place.

To achieve this the library is open 24/7, designed to be a low stress place and one of interaction. Staff have also redesigned some services such as inter-library loans to make them easier for students to access.  Unpretentious and playful and a home from home to a diverse population.  It also plays host to student societies and community groups.

Diane explained these changes are not revolutionary. They are attitudinal, cultural and pervasive and library staff must innovate and adapt to continue developing the library as a 3rd place.  Though it does represent a cultural change and challenge for library staff.

Free for all: open licensing at the National Library of Scotland – Gill Hamilton, Digital Access Manager, National Library of Scotland
Open licensing allows people to reuse your content and redistribute under the same licence you used.  The NLS has done this using Creative Commons licences.  Gill explained NLS’s approach to open licensing was ad hoc:

  • NLS content digitised by the Internet Archive  – licensed under Creative Commons
  • NLS out of copyright images made available via Flickr Commons
  • Europeana – NLS contributed content to these collections

There was inconsistency in metadata and licences and access, and moral issues around applying copyright on digitised works where the originals are out of copyright.  Legislation came in that helped remove barriers and improve access, and in 2014 NLS introduced a licensing policy and streamlined down to 3 Creative Commons licences.  The policy was introduced making content open to all, and now part of the role of the NLS Wikimedian in Residence is to push to make more content open.

Coding in Libraries – Dr. Martin Goodfellow, Coder in Residence, Glasgow Life
Martin gave a very interesting overview of this work from its start 4 years ago to date.  He began by explaining the process of coding can help you in other areas of life and recommended Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions.

This work is about teaching young people in Glasgow how to use technology in digital making classes through CoderDojo in 12 clubs in Glasgow. Held in public libraries and using libraries PCs. These have been very popular and have waiting lists.  Martin also assured us you don’t need to know about coding to run one. Just be enthusiastic and happy to work with young people.

Dojos cover basic programming languages Scratch and Python aswell as web technologies, cyber security, physical computing (equipment such as a Raspberry Pi).  Apart from the physical equipment all the tools used are open source and accessed through a browser.

Some of the initiatives include participating in National Coding Week on 19/9/16, the Hour of Code project, coding music using Sonic Pi as part of Celtic Connections, Wee write! – coding for creative writing and Build it Scotland using SketchUp and printing 3D models created on Minecraft.

Glasgow Life is planning to set up clubs in all Glasgow public libraries and introduce to school libraries.  However clubs do need volunteers to run them, but Martin explained the work he does talking and presenting about Glasgow Life’s coding projects encourages volunteers to come forward – especially from colleges and universities.

Decade of Commemorations programme – Ann Duffy and Linda Ming, Northern Ireland Libraries
Based in the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies this was a very powerful and fascinating insight into Northern Ireland Libraries programme – a decade of commemorations from 1912 to 1921.

Financed by the Together: Building a United Community fund it includes exhibitions, talks, displays, workshops, drama and music telling story of Ireland’s past and it’s shared heritage.  Bringing people together, creating discussion in an inclusive and respectful way.  Just one example of this is a reader development project – 2 cities 1 book. Bringing readers groups in Belfast and Dublin together.

I don’t think I’ve seen such a shining demonstration of the positive role libraries play in community life.  Anyone wanting to discover more about some of this work should check out The Library Men of WW1 and Living Legacies 1914-18.

Although acknowledging some political, cultural and religious barriers remain, Ann and Linda described how the programme has resulted in greater community engagement and increased footfall in libraries with communities talking together and opportunities for them to work together.  It’s good to hear another 5 years of commemorations are planned.

Information Literacy in Scotland – Cleo Jones and Jenny Foreman, The Information Literacy Community of Practice
The Information Literacy Community of Practice (IL CoP) is an online community of practice which is open to everyone both within and outside the information profession, primarily in Scotland but also elsewhere. It is for anyone who is interested in information literacy and associated skills and competencies.

This workshop introduced delegates to the IL CoP and how it is working to progress the Scottish Government’s Smarter Strategic Objective and SLIC’s strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015-2020 focusing on 5 of the strategy’s strategic aims:

  • Reading, literacy and learning
  • Digital inclusion
  • Economic wellbeing
  • Social wellbeing
  • Culture and creativity

Delegates were then asked to provide examples of how libraries are helping to achieve each of these aims using a ‘speed dating’ format.  I have a declared interest here as a member of the IL CoP  I helped facilitate the workshop – and it was fast and furious with lots of examples for IL CoP members to collate.  It was personally really exciting to hear all the work libraries are doing to achieve these aims and we hope to share the results soon.  In the meantime please check out the workshop presentation.

Final keynote – Libraries, Scottish Book Trust and key national agendas – Marc Lambert, CEO, Scottish Book Trust
For me, a key message of the conference was how libraries underpin culture and Marc summed that up perfectly.  Starting with asking if the Chauvet cave paintings could be considered a library, then moving to Scotland’s first lending library at Innerpeffray before describing what the Scottish Book Trust is doing now through Bookbug and the First Minister’s Reading Challenge to contribute to SLIC’s strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015-2020.

Marc pointed out these programmes are funded by the Scottish Government and national ambitions should motivate us to develop literacy skills.

Marc also stated the role of libraries in 21st century still needs to be addressed and asked what kind of collaboration between government, the Scottish Book Trust, SLIC and others will be needed in future to deliver programmes.

Paul Gray
October 23, 2016

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Making Connections – CILIPS Conference. 6th-7th June 2016, Dundee

The CILIPS annual conference is always a great networking event, with a great diversity of events.  This year was no exception and please do check out the conference presentations and talks.

I attended the conference on 6th June.  Here are my key bullet points from that day:

Keynote 1: Colin Cook, Digital Public Services and Business Transformation, Scottish Government

  • People have to overcome reluctance of using Internet to gain more of what is on offer – e.g. public services.
  • 82% of scots have Internet access, and highest level of digital skills in UK.
  • Scottish Government’s integrated digital strategy. Investing in infrastructure – super fast broadband to everyone in lifetime of the current session of the Scottish Parliament.
  • Invested in digital skills training. In future Librarians need to understand how to code inc. civil servants. We all need a high level of digital skills.
  • Participation. SLIC strategy for libraries highlights participation and the Scottish Government supports digital participation charter. Scottish Government should lead by example by ensuring its staff have a basic level of digital skills.
  • 3rd sector leading on this and this work is a vital part of tackling inequality – i.e. access to services. If we don’t, we reinforce inequalities. Michael Foreman has done research in this and has written about role of libraries to support this.
  • How libraries fit in – public wifi access, help accessing Internet and digital skills and information literacy and building confidence. Libraries need to role model digital skills.
  • Digital world has implications for everyone. Digital ecosystem – identifying common processes for digital services so we can spend more resource adding value at the front line.
  • Digital skills important for democratic engagement i.e. independence referendum campaign.

Stewart Bain, Orkney libraries. Twitter Tips @orkneylibrary

  • Orkney has 2 libraries and a mobile library
  • Joined Twitter in June 09
  • Tweets should have a Human voice – don’t be dull
  • Library users used Twitter to ask Orkney libraries questions
  • Use what you have and get staff involved. People like to see behind the scenes.
  • Hard to judge what will be popular
  • Be culturally aware, and aware of what’s on the news to get users’ interest
  • Friendly rivalry with Shetland Library – Orkney’s Twitter account was verified before Shetland’s
  • Use polling and emojis
  • Promote library events – gets people in and they discover what else you do
  • JK Rowling followed Orkney Libraries on Twitter, then came to their book club. 2.9m impressions on Twitter when she came.
  • Other authors came for Scottish Book Week
  • Finally, Snapchat and Whatsapp aren’t quite mainstream in libraries yet. A good time for a Library to start doing something similar with these.

Jenny Peachy, Senior Policy Officer, Carnegie UK Trust
Carnegie Library Lab case study – Digital Toybox

  • Carnegie UK is re-engaging with libraries
  • Library lab – funding package to start an innovative project in your library.  Now on second cohort

David Hayden, Acting Partnership and Information Manager, City of Edinburgh Libraries

  • Digital toyboxes in Edinburgh Central Library
  • Applied for £12k to run this, plus mentor support, online learning and collaborating with partners.
  • Inspiration from Makerspaces
  • Develop stronger links with high schools
  • Each bit of equipment easy to use and found staff to engage with it. Contents needed to be different, never seen in the library before and capture kids attention. Staff had to learn how it worked – using the toolkit – and mentor meetings.
  • Pilot sessions – rolled it our as 6 boxes, each on a different theme. Rotating 4 week plan, but became a logistical challenge. The boxes contain:
  • Electronic bits – from
  • UP! Mini 3D Printer
  • Lego Mindstorms – for coding
  • Synth kits (music) from
  • Engaged over 500 kids in schools, clubs and various festivals. Mini maker clubs in 3 libraries and encouraged problem solving skills. Kids also encouraged to use BBC build it Scotland – inc. building landmarks in Minecraft.
  • Reflections – fear of freedom, required mentor support, image is important to kids as is personal development.
  • Check out the Ideas Box too. Used by libraries in refugee camps.
  • There’s also a static Makerspace in Edinburgh to develop innovation across Edinburgh libraries and expand knowledge sharing across Edinburgh.  The target age range is 12-16, mostly 12 and 13.

Tesco Bank Summer reading challenge Scotland

  • An initiative from Tesco Bank and supported by the Reading Agency.
  • Literacy levels of children improved, sometimes outperforming peers after taking this 6 book challenge. Solus provided an app to deliver this which is launching this year.

Keynote 2: James Robertson – The news where you are: culture and libraries in Scotland in the 21st Century

James’ closing keynote was very insightful and entertaining.  One stand-out point he made was as newspaper circulation crashes, more than ever people need skills to appraise the information they see from other news sources.

Paul Gray
July 20, 2016