Monday, July 16, 2012

The Central Library of Edinburgh

Reading Champion's sneakers.
Niall Walker, Reading Champion for the Central Library of Edinburgh, says that sometimes you need a conversation piece when you spend most of your time talking to teenagers. He spoke to us in his office wear that included baggy jeans and flashy kicks. Niall works to develop a love reading among the children and young people in residential care in Edinburgh. 

Niall says that one of his most challenging jobs is finding the right reading materials. Teenagers in residential care might not be reading at a teenage reading level, but that doesn't mean there interests aren't that of a teenager. The Reading Champion says you have to know where to look. Some publishers offer books for just this purpose.  

Cyberman cutout makes statement the Central Library in Edinburgh.
The most amazing thing about our visit to the Central Library of Edinburgh was that we saw this kind of passion and energy in every other person we spoke to. This library is a pleasure to visit. When budgets are being slashed all over the US and the UK, to see a library that is well funded, well organized, goal-oriented, and genuinely concerned with providing greater access, adapting their patrons to more online resources, and building a collection that useful and inspiring, is...well, useful and inspiring.

One of the most interesting aspects to me is the fact that there is actually have a web team. Employees dedicated to developing a digital direction and plan, who are also librarians. In fact, the Central Library was the first in the UK to develop a mobile app, which allows users to request and renew books. I'm excited by the passion and the progress of these efforts to educate user about e-resources, online community participation (local groups will soon be able to keep their own informational pages through the library), and user generated content (Our Town Stories will have an option for adding content, but is not functioning yet.)

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