Monday, 5 August 2013

Class 10, Part I: Edinburgh Central Library (16/07/2013) 

Entrance to the Central Library 

Day two in Edinburgh found our class at the Edinburgh Central Library. Built in 1890, this library is all about its patrons, keeping up with their needs and constantly changing and improving their services to move foreword. Over the years, the library has won numerous awards, including the Booksellers Best Library Service (2012), the CSE and the IIP. In 2012, the Central Library scored a 97% in customer satisfaction, the highest rank in over 45 years. And after today's class, it's really no wonder why they are such a prominent and driving library.

The main reason, in my opinion at least, the Edinburgh Central Library ( is so successful is because of the staff's dedication and commitment to meeting all the needs of all the patrons. From changing hours and days of operations to offering ample amounts of workshops to patrons of all ages and skill range to increasing the number of staff members who are trained to offer at home book delivery service, this library will try its hardest to improve all ranges of services offered. In addition to services, the Central Library works diligently at keeping current with a digital presence for public library. By using Twitter, Facebook and offering access to sites like Our Town Stories and Your Edinburgh, the library is able to connect with users on a personal level. It gives the community a sense of being involved and allows them to participate and have their voices heard. The Edinburgh Central Library is gearing themselves to change and grow with their readers, and the times. They encourage learning, being involved in the community and telling/making/sharing stories all over.

Reading material on children's
services offered.
Another aspect of the Edinburgh Central Library that blew me away was their efforts to get kids reading and involved in the library. From their Reading Companion Project, which is geared towards bringing the love of reading and libraries to children in other care homes and improving poor literacy skills, to the Summer Reading Challenge, which has seen an increase in members and participation over the years, this library dedicates themselves to getting children into the library. The best program, again to me, that we heard about was called Glitz Lit. Drawing from the fact that teen girls are drawn to magazines, fashion and the likes of that, the library created a program based around these ideas. Books that went with this theme were included but it felt more like a social gathering than something held at a library. This idea really stuck with me, and I defiantly will keep it and draw inspiration from it in the future. I just loved the concept.

I touched briefly on it earlier, but another facet of the Central Library that really stands out is their digital and informational team. With only about 6 staff members, this team is responsible for all the virtual services available at the library. They contribute to the webpage on the council site, manage events and on-line booking reservations, manage over 50 e-resources, maintain various social networking accounts, like Twitter, and even produces some of their own videos which are published on YouTube. The Central Library was also the first library to offer a mobile app that allows users to connect. Just typing that all out alone made me tired, I cannot imagine how these amazing staffers can keep up with all of this. It really is remarkable.

Example of student artwork
that can be found throughout
the library
As if learning all of this wasn't enough, our class was also fortunate enough to get a tour of the library. From seeing the reading rooms to looking at some manuscripts and archives, over 500 years of printing material was on one table in front of us, there was just so much to see and experience. Most notable was the various pieces of artwork strewn out all over the building. When I asked about them, I learned that they were pieces of artwork by students of the Fine Arts College. To me, this truly signified just how much the library tried to reach out and connect with its patrons.

More student exhibitions
The Edinburgh Central Library was truly a one of a kind experience to me. From the wonderful group of librarians we had talk to us to the folders full of information given to us to the amazing tea provided for us (who doesn't love a good cup of tea) this library was a unique and special day that I will not soon forget. If I had to pick a favorite, this would certainly be it.

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