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Are libraries important to society? Yes, would be the reply from most. Then ask, “When was the last time you were in a library?” and the answer is more hesitant.
Our vision is to change the answer to the second question. Work is already underway.
New users are being introduced to libraries with imaginative events such as talks, tastings, Code Clubs and walking groups. Fife is one of the first places in Scotland to have British Sign Language story telling in libraries for families with deaf children.
Libraries are providing facilities for agile working. Since opening in May 2017, the Reading Room at Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries is being used by self-employed and freelance workers, benefitting from modern, well-equipped desk space and fast broadband.
But that’s not all. In 2017/18 we asked over 2,000 of you what would encourage you to visit your library. You told us and we have listened. We will be launching our new services and improved opening hours in April 2019. We will be repackaging and promoting all the things we already do, as well developing a raft of new activities, which are designed to engage new members whilst broadening our offer to those already signed up. In effect, ensuring that our libraries buck the trend for 21st century living and safeguard them for future generations.
Throughout the year, ONFife libraries have offered a unique range of learning opportunities. Building on our first foray in to hosting Fun Palaces, in October 2017 we presented more activities in more locations, from creative writing in Kirkcaldy to turning fruit and vegetables into musical instruments in Cupar. We built on existing relationships with the Dunfermline Folk Club, Fife Writes and Fife Craft Association; and created new ones with Cupar Arts, Kirkcaldy Art Club, TAYTA (Terrifically Adventurous Youth Theatre Association) and Kirkcaldy Knit Club. 165 members of the public took part in this campaign for community-based access to arts and science.
The modernisation of Fife’s Library Service saw a major consultation on the future development of the service with 2,379 members of the public completing the survey and 108 taking part in qualitative research. The information collated is being used to create a new vision for Fife’s libraries, with improved opening hours and a suite of services, which we are continually developing. Our new vision strategy will be announced during 2018/19.
In collaboration with Scottish Book Trust, we have been fortunate enough to work with a Digital Storyteller since the summer of 2017. Dan Brown has met with groups and individuals in Glenrothes to give them the tools necessary to create their own digital story. Children with special needs, people living with Alzheimers, Age Concern clients, a refugee who has made Glenrothes her home, and a very powerful transgender journey, are just some of the stories Dan has helped participants create. The 87 participants found the process of sharing their stories empowering and cathartic, whilst raising their confidence with digital skills.
To coincide with Halloween, Murder Mystery events took a magical turn with guest company Can You Catch the Killer? visiting Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries to test the deductive skills of our audiences with a wizarding school twist for the occasion. Two adult orientated sell-out events took place in our Canmore Room, bringing in 180 Muggles and Wizards to our especially decorated Hogwarts room.
Book Week Scotland brought a nutritional theme with it, giving participants a flavour of the breadth of our services. 7,895 attendees of all ages took part in events throughout the week, an increase of 91% (due to the enhanced junior and teen programme). Events ranged from bread & poetry in Kelty to Macbeth in 60 minutes for school audiences. The evening programme for families was again free of charge thanks to funding from Fife Council Area Committees, making them inclusive for all.
Glenrothes Comic Con’s debut at Rothes Halls in June 2017 was a huge success, attracting 3,127 fans. Working with the Kingdom Centre, Go Glenrothes and Fife Council, we were able to bring in guest artists from across the UK and welcome the car stars from the Transformers films. The range of costumes worn by those attending was magnificent, with a special mention to a Jedi master and Wicked Queen, who spent a huge amount of time posing for photographs and handing out apples.
Bookbug session figures increased in 2017/18 due to the re-opening of DCL&G, new sessions such as British Sign Language and Gaelic & Scots sessions, and the continued success of Bookbug Buggy Walks. There were 33 sessions during Bookbug Week alone, with a flag ship launch in partnership with Scottish Book Trust at DCL&G and a well-attended family event at Rothes Halls, plus an offer of evening and weekend sessions for families. Bookbug is present in all 7 local areas with a Fife-wide total of 1,191 sessions (50% increase on 2016/17).
27 of our 37 libraries (including mobiles and integrated facilities) ran Bookbug sessions during this period resulting in 10,523 issues and 244 new members. 13 libraries were identified as being in areas of deprivation and ran 474 sessions reaching 8,040 children and adults, while the majority of outreach work was held in areas of deprivation, or in areas where there are no libraries within easy walking distance (311 outreach sessions in total, reaching 802 children and adults). In addition, 120 people were trained as session leaders across libraries, schools and community settings.
The Schools Library Service continues to flourish now providing 100% coverage of Fife primary schools. In 2016/17, 97% of all 135 primary schools in Fife used the service, rising to a fantastic 100% in 2017/18. The service provides project boxes to schools who request them based on their chosen projects each term. Each project box contains up to 25 books. The number of project boxes dispatched from our central unit in Glenrothes grew from 4,505 in 2016/17 to 4,827 in 2017/18 – an increase of almost 7%. Within these boxes, book issues grew to 98,820 issues this year, a 12% rise on the previous cycle.
Our children’s holiday activities are well supported; there were 27 Easter-themed craft activities, held over 24 Libraries. Events were held throughout Fife, with representation in each of the 7 areas. Over 260 children and 140 adults attended, with 280 books being issued.
Our October events took on a spooky theme with 15 events, featuring a series of ghostly Scots traditional tales retold by Tony Bonning. Once again, all areas in the region held events with over 800 children and 600 adults attending. In total we ran 48 events in 28 libraries.
In partnership with Levenmouth Academy, the Young People’s Services team has been working with S1 pupils to raise enthusiasm for reading for pleasure during secondary school years. This project draws on our successful primary school offer, with age-appropriate adjustments. A series of author events and creative workshops was structured around a list of shortlist books to engage pupils in discussion about books and stories which culminated in the Levenmouth S1 Book Awards.
Throughout 2018/19 the Libraries Team will be using the analysis of the 2017 consultation to plan for the future, seeking out new opportunities to use library spaces and attract new users, whilst ensuring that current library services are easily available no matter in which part of Fife you live or visit. Our events programme is already growing and Comic Con 2 will be bigger and better with more activities for all ages and the Gruffalo will be coming to visit! Fife Pride will also host our first Drag Queen Storytime and we are looking forward to Mischief Makers, the theme of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. Look out too for lots of rebel-themed events for Book Week Scotland in November.