Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Central Library, Edinburgh

The staff of about 60 members handles a collection of over 850,000 items. There is a separate
building for the Children's Library, as well as the Music Library. The Music Library has proven to be very popular for patrons in this area. It is one of the largest collections of music and dance material in the UK. l I loved the vibe in this section-there was music playing and people seemed very at ease here. It was a great example of libraries becoming more modern, more of a social center-and moving away from the boring stereotype. One disadvantage of the space is that it is only accessible by stairway, however the material can be sent to the main library or go out for inter-library loan. Services offered include resources for music teachers, tours, sales, concerts, exhibits, using DVDs and Walkmans and more.

The Children's Library was small but inviting. Space has become an issue for this branch-isn't that generally the case! They are participating in the national summer reading program, Quest Seekers. The students get prizes and participate in events while checking off a list of good summer reads. Some services offered are story time for children under 5, homework information books, comics, toys and games, computers, gaming and more. They started Bookstart Edinburgh in February 2000, which gives free book packages to babies at 4 months, and 12-15 month immunizations. It also includes an invitation to join the library and hundreds of families have joined a library in their area. In 2007 the Bookstart program expanded and they offered another set of free books, called Treasure Chest, for three year olds.

*photo courtesy of http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/internet/leisure/libraries/your_nearest_library/Central%20Library

We had a chance to meet with some members of the Reading and Learning Team. They spearhead campaigns to help children in group homes and help them learn to love the library. Children in these situations tend to view reading as a chore and want to rebel against it as a whole. The librarians have to show them that reading can be fun (I know, I sound like a librarian!) and hope it leads to a love of learning in general. The best advice they gave was know your local community and have confidence in what you do. Kids can sense if you believe in what you teach and being truly confident gives them the chance to develop their own confidence. Reading opens doors and the I could feel how much the librarians here wanted to help these children by giving them a positive introduction to the library. It must be very difficult but rewarding work to watch the progression; because how could a person not love the library?!

This visit proved to be informative and the librarians were wonderful. It was very valuable to sit and discuss issues faced in the library profession and compare ways to overcome them. They gave us very cute bags with a "free library books...priceless" quote and the City of Edinburgh Council logo. Everyone was so welcoming and very interested in speaking with us. Anyone else notice a trend here in Scotland...?

Photo courtesy of http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/internet, where there is a lot of useful information about the area.

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