Opinions

Libraries are committed to delivering for Scotland’s communities

Written by: Sara Redmond, Director of Development and Improvement, the ALLIANCE

Published: 05/10/2021

Hands

Sara shares her thoughts on the recently published public library strategy and their contribution to health and wellbeing.

Last week we celebrated Self Management Week – a week of awareness raising activities and outreach to highlight the importance of people being supported to live well on their terms. The week reminded me how empowering self management can be when people are supported to find their own self management story.

September also welcomed the launch of the new Public Libraries Strategy: Forward (this link will take you away from our website https://scottishlibraries.org/advice-guidance/national-strategies/forward-scotlands-public-library-strategy/).

Forward celebrates Scotland’s public libraries and the unique potential they have to deliver real and meaningful change. The strategy sets out a range of  actions to help it meet its ambitious aims which is set in a broader societal mission to help communities reset and thrive.

The relationship between public libraries and health and wellbeing is strong. Public libraries help to ensure people have access to information they need, opportunities for learning and to develop their skills, and access to a freely available space to gather and connect with others. There are over 490 local public libraries, 49 mobile libraries and a 24/7 digital offer. The health and wellbeing offer from libraries is estimated to bring a cost saving to NHS Scotland of £3.2 million each year.

Across Scotland, our third sector and public libraries offer a diverse range of support and life changing opportunities, helping people in their self management journey and addressing social isolation.

Partnership working with health and social care

One of the committed actions in Forward is the delivery of the Collective Force for Wellbeing Action Plan. The plan, in which the ALLIANCE is a delivery partner, sets out how libraries in local authorities, schools and other sectors will work with health and social care and the third sector to become central hubs for trusted health and wellbeing information in their communities.

The action plan builds on a range of joint work between the ALLIANCE and the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC). This includes developing a training resource to enhance public library staff’s knowledge and understanding of self management and health literacy (this link will take you to another page on the website https://www.alliance-scotland.org.uk/blog/case_studies/new-training-resources-launched-for-public-library-staff/).

Through the co-creating libraries for wellbeing project, the ALLIANCE worked with Public Health Scotland and three health and social care partnership areas. The project engaged libraries, young people, third sector services and health and social care in supporting prevention, early intervention and self management for young people with mental health needs. You can read the report by clicking on this link which will take you to another page on the website https://www.alliance-scotland.org.uk/blog/resources/co-creating-libraries-for-wellbeing-report/. 

More recently the ALLIANCE has been working with SLIC and Scottish Government in the development of a blended learning course Information for Wellbeing (this link will take you away from this website https://infoforwellbeing.scot.nhs.uk/) to support library and third sector staff to develop their skills in helping people with health literacy and therapeutic use of reading for wellbeing.

Forward celebrates public libraries in Scotland and the unique potential to deliver real and meaningful change. It makes a compelling case for sustained investment and celebrates the strength of the public library network as vital and trusted public spaces that deliver on a range of outcomes in every community in Scotland.

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