Saturday, August 17, 2013

The services that never stop

Tuesday 7/16 Part 1: Central Library of Edinburgh

What a library!  Not only is this library huge, it also offers an amazing array of services for its patrons and the community across all of its branches.  And the accolades reflect this... they have won, or been a finalist, for the "Best Library Service in the UK" award, and they have a 97% customer satisfaction rate.

The library's focus centers on 3 aspects: social, digital, and physical, and using this, they have branded themselves in a way that attracts users of all ages through special programs.  Reading groups, special events, and age-specific publications/newsletters are just a few examples of the social gatherings the library offers to bring together it patrons with common interests.  Their digital initiates include increasing electronic resources and access, and they are heavily invested in social media.  The suite of online services is staggering, and includes the website, eventbrite for social events, the "Your Edinburgh" site which uses crowdsourcing to gather its info, and Special Collections online exhibits, to name a few.  One could spend hours exploring all the cool things they have on their website.

Two of their largest programs are the partnership with Dyslexia Scotland, and the Reading Champion Project.  Both utilize special programs to encourage library use and reading, as well as awareness and support for issues of literacy.  They are both great programs which do a lot of good for the local community.

My favorite part of this visit was when our tour took us into the Reference Library.  This part was built in 1890, and has not changed much since its founding.  The original space consisted of two parts, one for men and one for women.  It is a beautiful room, but unfortunately the collection has outgrown the space and the library is struggling to find adequate room for its physical collection... as is the case with most libraries today.

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