The Highland Council’s Library Service has received acknowledgement for their commitment to providing high quality services at the inaugural Scottish Library Excellence Awards (held 18 January 2010).
With public libraries in Scotland attracting over 30 million visitors per year and academic libraries attracting 12.8 million, the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) acknowledged the achievements of Highland libraries.
The Highland Library Service was among libraries from across Scotland at the ceremony presented by Chair of the SLIC board, Christine May which took place at the Scottish Parliament.
The awards were made following the publication of the latest round of Public Library Quality Improvement Matrix (PLQIM) reports, a peer-reviewed self-evaluation tool where services are rated on a six-point scale to identify key strengths and weaknesses. Report results are used to inform the development of an improvement action plan, to ensure that public libraries provide the services that local people require.
Highland Libraries piloted the PLQIM programme and have carried out the self evaluation process since, performing highly in the provision of reading and the ethos and values category. Assessors return next month to look at leadership.
Commenting on the awards, Minister for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “Scotland's public libraries are a valuable community resource, providing access to knowledge, learning and culture. They can be enjoyed by everyone and provide a diverse range of services - from reading for pleasure to education courses to wi-fi access - which can have a positive impact on the cultural health of the community.
"These awards recognise excellence in Scotland's libraries and acknowledge the hard work of those involved in reaching such a high standard. I would like to offer my congratulations to all of the award winners."
Elaine Fulton, Director of the Scottish Library and Information Council added: “The provision of library services is crucial to ensure that people have the support they need to develop their skills, realise their aspirations and contribute to the economic growth and wellbeing of the country.
“At a time when services are under scrutiny because of the pressures on public finances, it is important that we celebrate the value they add to communities and individuals.
“These awards demonstrate the commitment of library staff to delivering new, high quality, innovative services to ensure that communities have access to the information and advice that they need.”
Libraries remain one of the free universal services for communities where the population can visit as individuals or groups to pursue reading for pleasure, learning or hobbies. They also support the business community, individual and community information needs and are inclusive of all age and social groups, nationalities, genders and religious beliefs.
In addition to the visitors who use general library services, libraries also have over 300,000 registered learners following formal courses and an increasing number, now over 10% of the population, use learning centres in libraries.
The event at the Scottish parliament buildings was hosted by Peter Peacock MSP who specially mentioned the ground breaking work with Social Networking and the use of the Internet that Highland Libraries have developed to provide library and information services for outlying communities to enjoy in the comfort of their own home.