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Posts Tagged ‘Edinburgh City Libraries’

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about the essential role that public libraries are playing in the regeneration of Scotland’s communities.  An example of this is happening right now in Craigmillar
in Edinburgh where work has just begun on the development of a new neighbourhood and library centre.    Replacing a number of tired and old buildings this cutting edge facility will be a hub for the local community; housing a number of council services, partner agencies and of course a library service that’s responsive to the needs and expectations of 21st century users.  Exciting times for the residents of Craigmillar!

Take a quick peek at the 3D walkthrough of the new centre.    Impressive stuff.  Can’t wait to visit when it opens in 2013! 🙂


					

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Newcastle City Library at night

One of the most inspiring sessions at The Edge 2010 conference came from Tony Durcan, Head of Culture, Libraries & Lifelong Learning, Newcastle Council; and Councillor John Shipley, Leader of Newcastle Council.   Tony and John talked about Newcastle’s new City Library: a 7 year PFI development project costing £24m and resulting in a fantastic new library for the people of Newcastle; a public space boasting 8,300 square metres of books, PCs, resources, advice; and a café, of course.  The new library opened in November 2009 and by the end of January 2010 reported impressive figures:

  • 792.000 visitors – 35,000 new members – 396,000 items loaned

Undoubtedly Newcastle’s new library is a huge success and I think that’s partly to do with Tony Durcan’s infectious enthusiasm coupled with strong support from Cllr John Shipley.  I don’t think I’ve ever come across a Council Leader who has spoken so passionately about the value of public libraries.    He just ‘gets it!’ And following his positive and inspiring talk there were calls from the audience  to ‘clone him’ 🙂

Here’s a few gems of wisdom from John’s talk (I’ve paraphrased):

  • If we want to build social  inclusion in our communities we need to build libraries where people want to be
  • City centres without free public spaces, like libraries, are only welcoming to those who have cash to spend
  • Governments should invest in public libraries because it’s the right thing to do!
  • Everyone in society can participate in the public library experience: it’s a majority service rather than a minority service
  • We shouldn’t be shy about demanding extra expenditure because public libraries are cheap & lead to a more inclusive society which leads to lowered costs elsewhere on things like crime, health, education…
  • We need to stop focussing on statistics because they reveal nothing about the true value of the public library
  • We need to make a stronger case for our public libraries – if we can communicate value successfully then politicians will invest!

I think he’s telling us that ‘the ball’s in our court’.  And in order to secure the future of public libraries WE need to make the case for our libraries; challenge misconceptions and communicate value – in a language that those holding the purse strings can easily understand!

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© Christine Rooney-Browne

In just over two weeks time I’ll be heading through to Edinburgh to attend The Edge 2010.

I’m really excited about this conference because I think it’s unrivalled in Scotland.   Quite often, when I attend conferences in Scotland it’s a mix of the  ‘same old faces’ talking about the ‘same old issues’, which is fine…but it’s nice to see something new and exciting on the calendar for Scotland.

Normally I have to head South or across the water to attend a conference of this scale; but this time it’s just a 50 minute train journey away!  And one of the most exciting things about this conference, in addition to it’s line-up of speakers, is that it’s looking at the public sector as a whole and the vital role that libraries can play within this sector.  With such a wide remit, the conference is appealing to a remarkably wide audience.  Liz McGettigan, Head of Edinburgh City Libraries reports that the conference will be attended by delegates from across the UK, Europe, North America and New Zealand and from fields as diverse as journalism, policy and strategy, education, leisure, universities and health.

Sounds like the perfect opportunity to communicate the value of libraries to an audience that extends well beyond those of us already working within libraries.I’m sure there will also be some unique opportunities to share ideas, network, build partnerships; and ultimately communicate our value and relevance as a public service to a non-traditional audience, thus enhancing our profile and extending our potential to make a positive impact in the 21st century.

If you’re interested in finding out more about The Edge 2010 then why not check out their blog?

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The Edge 2010 is a two day conference taking place on February 25th and 26th at Edinburgh Castle.  The conference, which is being organised by Edinburgh City Libraries, promises to “push the boundaries of public service delivery” in the 21st century.  Their impressive line-up of speakers include Susan Benton, President and CEO of the Urban Libraries Council;  Michael Porter, otherwise known in library circles as ‘Library Man’; Ewan McIntosh, renowned emerging and social media expert; plus lots more fantastic speakers from around the UK.

Further details, including a list of costs, payment options and accommodation, are available via their online booking form.

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