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Scottish Public Libraries and their role in community resilience during lockdown

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Project Description

In ‘normal’ times public libraries are crucial community hubs but have, like other public spaces, been closed during the pandemic lockdown. In recent years, public libraries in Scotland have been strongly supported through Scottish Government initiatives (e.g. Public Library Improvement Fund) or through a national strategy for their enhancement (Ambition and Opportunity 2015-20) and are seen as trusted public spaces. They play a major role in supporting disadvantaged or social excluded members of the community (e.g. through helping online benefit claims), aiding both physical and mental wellbeing (e.g. Macmillan Cancer centres) and developing literacy (e.g. Bookbug). The lockdown means they have been compelled to adapt their offerings significantly and, often, creatively. Many have reported surges in the borrowing of e-books (e.g. Aberdeen), the have developed online book clubs (Glasgow et al) or online storytelling sessions (Shetland). This research will examine how they have responded to the lockdown, reimagined their services and explore the impact on both the services themselves and the end users. It will also seek to understand the difficulties such as those members of the community for whom online access is problematic or even impossible if unable to visit the library physically. The disparity in service provision (between those library services in cultural or leisure trusts which have furloughed employees and those remaining in direct local authority control) will also be explored as this raises important questions about the provision of statutory universal service. The research will inform policy and understanding of service governance and resilience

Status Project Complete
Funder(s) Arts & Humanities Research Council
Value £15,302.00
Project Dates Jun 15, 2020 - Dec 15, 2020
Partner Organisations Scottish Library & Information Council

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