Choices and challenges – Youth library Services

CILIP in Scotland organised this event which took place in the Mitchell Library last week and featured a range of presentations and case studies from an impressive array of speakers from around the country. Ably chaired by Yvonne Manning, Principal Librarian with Falkirk Council, the event offered those interested in youth services an opportunity to exchange experiences and opinions.  All the presentations are available here

Margaret McLeod, Policy and Information Manager with Youthlink Scotland ,introduced the audience to ‘Being Young in Scotland’.  Youthlink supports youth work organisations and is unique because it looks after both the voluntary and statutory youth work sector.  The audience was delighted to learn that all 32 local authorities in Scotland are in membership.  ‘Being Young in Scotland’ is a key piece of research which Youthlink carries out every two years and which offers insight into life as a young person in Scotland today.

Lynsey Paterson from Young Scot followed Margaret with a presentation detailing how her organisation promotes youth information and citizenship and is developing a Youth Information Framework with SLIC and other partners which emphasises the importance of information literacy skills for young people.  A registered charity, Young Scot shares offices with Youthlink and the Scottish Youth Parliament and works in partnership with local authorities to support the Dialogue Youth project and offer a national youth information portal. The organisation would like to see youth information points in schools, colleges and community settings with information sensitised for young people.

Mel West, Audience Development Manager with from North Ayrshire Council,  an area of Scotland where 23% of the population are library users offered delegates a really upbeat account of their Observ8 project (an offshoot of the Dialogue Youth idea). The project works successfully to involve young people in  evaluation of products and services including library services.  In North Ayrshire this has resulted in more evening and weekend opening, development of social networking tools and services and more and better consultation with key partners.  Oh and lots more satisfied young library users.

Craig Green, Information and Learning Services Manager at John Wheatley College, picked up on the theme of involving young people in service design and delivery when he discussed how John Wheatley College mixes youth work and library work to support informal learning in an area of Glasgow characterised by poverty and deprivation and which suffers from anti social behaviour and territorialism. The ‘Bridge’ features a mix of young people, library staff, tutors and youth workers building trusted relationships in a supportive environment.

Hayley Rowlands, Library Assistant with West Lothian Council, discussed how one authority is using social networking tools to promote the library and its services to young people.  Facebook and MySpace are deployed as information channels used by young people and familiar to them although Hayley’s personal enthusiasm for her work  shone through as perhaps one good reason for growing user numbers in Broxburn Library!

Final speaker of the day was Amina Shah, Senior Library and Information Officer with Dundee City Council, who spoke about the Grey Lodge Project which targets vulnerable groups in an offsite schooling initiative involving 3 high schools.  The project offers young people a variety of activities and learning experiences designed to build confidence and raise self esteem including IT skills, CV writing, local history and author visits.

All in all delegates seemed to enjoy an excellent programme in the comfortable surroundings of the Mitchell Library (where CILIPS annual Conference is due to be held from 7-9 June but more about that anon!)

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