Marianne shares her learning and reflections as our Public Library Improvement Fund Round 1 Project comes to an end.
In October 2017, the Self Management Team were awarded funding through the Scottish Libraries and Information Council (SLIC) (this link will take you away from this website). I was then tasked with leading on the project which sought to develop a training resource to increase public library staff’s knowledge and understanding of self management and health literacy and provide support for them to take forward in their roles.
At first the project was slightly daunting; I had a blank canvas to work from so my first thought was that I needed to get steeped in the world of libraries. This wasn’t going to be a project that I could do from behind a desk. I needed to speak to people who work and use libraries and find out how libraries can support people’s self management and health literacy. I had great support from our Project Sponsors at SLIC, NHS and Scottish Government which I’m grateful for as they allowed me to bounce ideas off them and then run with it.
Kicking the project off we ran seven focus groups across Scotland bringing together a mix of library staff, individual’s living with a long term condition, unpaid carers, third sector staff and the odd Health and Social Care Partnership staff in attendance. It was fascinating to hear stories of how libraries can support individuals. I was told by many individuals that the relationships they have built with the staff over time has been a life line; some of whom live on their own and the library staff can be the only conversation they might have in a week. On the other side of this, I was struck at how libraries can also be a place to turn when someone is in crisis, I heard stories in relation to suicide and severe mental health needs. It truly was an eye opener finding out about the many different ways in which people use libraries to support their health and wellbeing.
Following on from the focus groups, we brought together a group made up of Library Heads of Service and Principal Librarians, third sector, NHS and Scottish Government to present the findings. This day was used to help shape the training, asking staff what they would find useful, is this relevant and also the more practical things like how long the training should be. For me, this project had to be transparent and open to different ideas. It needed to be fit for purpose and I could only do that by speaking to those who would be involved.
Over the summer, we ran two pilot sessions to test out the training. I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous as I was on those two mornings but thankfully the feedback was positive with some great ideas on what to develop further.
All of this work then concluded with six training launches across Scotland, I even got as far as Stornoway. Through these trainings we were successful in delivering the training to staff across 22 local authority areas with the hope that those who attended will cascade the training further to their own staff.
It doesn’t stop there though. I didn’t want this project to come to an abrupt end, so we have made all resources from the training live on the website for others to use. This includes the slides, worksheets, video clips and supporting documents. I’m so excited to be able to share this and see it grow further.
Libraries are supporting individual’s self management and health literacy every single day. I want this project to be able to give that knowledge to staff and credit where it’s due. If you plan on using any of the resources, it would also be great to hear about it so get in touch. You can email Library@alliance-scotland.org.uk
Following this project, we were successful in our second round of funding through SLIC. I’m delighted that the work surrounding libraries is ongoing, and I can continue to build on my knowledge about how libraries are supporting local communities health and wellbeing. For more information on the second round of funding click here.