Glasgow Life consulted on a new vision for Glasgow Libraries and this ended on 30th March. In my submission, I stated that it is recognised that Glasgow Libraries are a much loved and much needed local service. The process of review and engagement with stakeholders to identify the best ways to develop and support our Libraries services is welcomed.
The network of libraries is a vital access point to books, council services and web access for many people. Whilst the use of space within libraries is changing, they provide convenient locations within local communities where people can reach out for assistance. Some branch libraries may need to be upgraded to ensure they are more accessible and fit for the future. This needs to be budgeted for in the Glasgow City Council’s spending plans.
Underused locations should be subject of a much more determined exercise to find potential users, trial new activities and attract community initiatives that could support new uses. The need for services should take account of multiple social deprivation across the city with such neighbourhood's prioritised.
Local services including books, web access, trained library staff and toilets are a priority; support for job searches or information on welfare benefits are crucial. Provision of research facilities and resources for finding trusted information, whether for study or hobby, or to deal with institutions and personal needs, is a key service that must not be compromised.
Many other activities and facilities are also available and these need to be publicised effectively. Services in the Mitchell Library are a magnet for a great many users. This is a world class collection which requires substantial investment to ensure that it can reach a wider audience. There is also an opportunity to showcase local libraries there as many users may not know what is available nearer them or what activities go on.
Any local innovations and variations that meet local needs better should still remain part of the complete city-wide network integrated into technology and standards of the core, free offer.
Non users can be attracted to expand the reach of the service. Access to other council facilities and services is a priority eg contact points within libraries; careers services or youth facilities co-located with libraries; a health centre alongside a library; a senior citizens club sharing space with a library. Opportunities for community facilities and centres to share library buildings and space should be explored. Making libraries community hubs will strengthen them.
Refreshments and other services that generate revenue for the libraries service should be developed in conjunction with users. Any revenue earning options must not damage other local traders but be developed in conjunction with the community to ensure they meet local needs.
The web offering from Libraries needs to be promoted and integrated so that users can order and collect via branches more readily. This could be combined with ‘click and collect’ facilities for other e-commerce sites to attract their customers to visit libraries eg for parcels.
Quiet and noisy uses need to be accommodated so that families, those seeking peace or studying or job search, and others can share buildings.
Community users and potential community users, from local groups to societies, clubs, artists, entertainers and others can all be accommodated in some places and times if the facilities are reviewed. We'd like to see libraries attract many new users from all sections and cultures in the city. This development is likely to bring much diversity to the library services. Volunteering cannot be a substitute for trained staff. It can be encouraged through development of partnerships with local voluntary organisations, and community councils. There are opportunities to expand the role of volunteers building on the success of Macmillan Cancer Support to include a city literacy campaign and learning linked to local heritage.
The legacy of Andrew Carnegie is highlighted in the vision document. I hope that stronger connections could be developed with the Carnegie Trust and similar Trusts to support investment in our libraries and development of access to the City Archives.
Glasgow Life - http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/libraries/vision/Pages/default.aspx