Sunday, August 14, 2011

Central Library, City of Edinburgh Council

It is hard to imagine that within the heavy gothic buildings that decorate the ancient Royal Mile and the surrounding streets lives a thriving public library. The Central Library is a fine example of all that a public library can do.

There is an entire department devoted to creating a library environment online. This department is in charge of managing the corporate website but also with providing 24 hour access to the library. Your Library is a program designed to combine the library with social media. The librarians are playing with a library application for smart phones which has the potential to allow patrons to check out books using this application. The library maintains a Google map called Edinburgh Reads where patrons can find book clubs across the city. Tales of One City is a blog designed to bring library resources and events to patrons utilizing various kinds of social media including twitter, facebook, flickr, and youtube. Patrons also can receive a newsletter which is a more expanded version of the blog.

There is a feature called Library to Go which allows patrons to read online or check out e-books and e-audio. Among the references and online resources there are language programs, information on how to get a driver’s license, how to apply for funds and grants and genealogy resources. Within the library, plasma touch screens are features throughout the library providing information on library services, events and collections. There is potential to have digital exhibitions available on these screens as well. This social media and online resource blitzkrieg is designed to bring more patrons into the library both online and onsite.

There is a program specifically for reader development. The purpose of this program is to get people reading more and reading more widely. Author events are hosted. The Royal Book Trust has a program called Live Literature where the trust will match the libraries donation to bring an author to the central library or any of the community libraries. Authors often solicit to come promote their books as well.

The library is extremely active in book groups. There are 46 groups hosted through the library and over 40 more independent groups that work with the library. City of Literature events are events hosted through the library with the aim of promoting literature throughout Edinburgh. Read Aloud is a program where volunteers go into elderly homes and read to the residents and bring some library materials. The library is partners with a number of organizations such as Scottish Book Trust, Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Book Festival, City of Literature, and Scottish Library and Information Council.

The library also has training programs called Frontline which educates staff members on how to engage with the public, how to set up effective displays, event training. Reader development and book group training is also available.

The Central Library is devoted to community development. In addition to all of the services I’ve already mentioned, the library has a department devoted to adult IT learning. 15 of the local communities join the Central Library in teaching classes. Classes are taught such as beginning computer classes and English as a second language. IT Buddies is a program where volunteers work directly with patrons. Future IT programs include learning IT family history, social media, and employment.

The library is also involved in literacy efforts. The Six Book Challenge is a program designed to encourage reluctant readers to read more. The library is also partners with Dyslexia Scotland which promotes online support software and hosts dyslexia reading groups for children.

I am absolutely blown away by the services offered at this library. This library is a shining example of innovation and community involvement. The library staff are keenly aware of the importance of keeping the library relevant in our modern technology culture. What a wonderful library. And here is the view from the back window...

*The amazing display cap above is by Jessica Hische, an amazing designer I came across in my perpetual search for awesome design and typography. The letter comes from her Daily Drop Cap project.

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