Award winning library services - unafraid of the future

Liz McGettigan is proud of Edinburgh's award winning library and information services.

The transformation of the media market and the emergence of e-books have sent ripples around library and information services across the globe.  It is urgent, and crucial for our future, that we find answers to these emerging challenges.

With this in mind Edinburgh's Library and Information Service is delivering 'Next Generation Library and Information Services', a new model for libraries across the city, based on a strategic approach which borrows from the retail sector.

A vision to be the best

In 2009 we set ourselves the goal to be the Best Library and Information Service in Scotland.

In order to achieve this we developed and rolled out practical toolkits to support new ways of working and to help embed performance improvement across both the physical estate and our social and digital media platforms. Training modules were developed and adopted into our people plan.  Regular performance information and workshops fed back results and best practice to staff across the city.  A quality standard matrix has also been developed.

Our team is passionate about libraries and information and proud of the impact we have made on peoples' perceptions of public library and information services.  As a 2012 UK Public Sector Digital Awards Finalist, I am also very proud of how our cutting-edge use of technology and innovative use of electronic information and social media has changed the way we deliver services in Edinburgh.  Our service is the first and only fully online council service in the city.

Library Service of the Year Award

In 2012 Edinburgh Library and Information Services won the Bookseller Library Service of the Year Award. The award was launched to recognise library services which are thriving and innovating in a difficult climate and increasing access and performance.  The judges identified our key strengths:

  • Range of services for hard to reach readers
  • A cutting edge website and third version Library App
  • Engaging social media activity
  • Network of plasma information screens
  • Committed support from the local authority

Also referenced in our success were:

  • The online library portal 'Your Library'
  • Two brand new library facilities within the city including Drumbrae and Craigmillar
  • Refurbished facilities in Morningside and several others
  • The Prison Library Service
  • The range of special reading projects including those for dyslexic children and services for older readers.

The judges concluded that Edinburgh Library and Information Services are 'innovative on so many fronts, full of energy, bang up to date and unafraid of the future', providing ‘a template for libraries everywhere to be inspired by'.

This is the third national libraries award won by the city's library and information service in two years. In July 2010, the service was successful in winning the Libraries Change Lives Award from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals for HMP Edinburgh Library Partnership (Saughton Prison). This was followed in 2011 with the 'Whose Town' Project achieving the Scottish Design Awards Chairman's Award. Information and communications technology impacts on the communities in which we live and the way individuals, business, government and civil society interact and develop.

The public sector needs to keep afloat of the latest developments and innovations within the digital sector.

How ready are you for the new world of communications, buildings and community? Is your community ready for the impact of Public Sector Welfare Reform? Are you socially networked? Virtually engaged? What's new? 

If you would like to join us in the 'Unafraid of the Future' conversation we are hosting our annual EDGE 2013 conference 28th February - 1st March and we would be delighted to have you join our big conversation.

LizMcGettigan is Head of Libraries and Information Services for the City of Edinburgh Council.