Tuesday, July 15, 2014

And the award goes to...

Of all the libraries I have seen thus far in this program, I am most impressed with the use of innovative technology at the Central Library in Edinburgh. Instead of stumbling to reach the line of technological advancements like most libraries, Central Library appears to stride confidently in front of that line to provide its patrons with invaluable resources.

Strategic planning is something all libraries must do, especially to ensure that every patron's need will continue to be met. Central Library has a clear vision for meeting (and in my opinion, surpassing) these needs. The focus of their Next Generation Strategy is threefold: social, digital and physical. All are given equal importance in library services and illustrates the library as a community center.

Four resources available through the Central Library are truly inspiring and representative of the Next Generation Strategy goals.
For a quick dose of local history, this is the perfect resource. One can find short stories about local figures, old photographs and maps illustrating the ways in which a modern city is rooted in the past. Personally, I enjoyed the personal time machine the street views of contemporary photographs overlaying old photographs provided.

Load this resource, and you will see a Google map of Edinburgh populated with book covers. Each of these books have an identifiable and mappable location within the city, thus providing an excellent resource for those who wish to read something close to home (or who are like me and gobble up anything about Scotland or Edinburgh). To the side of the map is a brief synopsis of the listed resources. The books listed here are held by one of the libraries in the system and the listing links to the catalog record, providing easy access to the material.

As the first fully transactional mobile app in the UK, Central Library has made tremendous strides to enable library access from anywhere at any time. This remarkable app allows patrons to search the catalog and renew items as well as view the library blog and news. Say you're in an overpriced bookstore and you found a book you can't live without (not an uncommon occurrence)--with this app you could scan the book's barcode and instantly know whether that book is owned by the library. My favorite part, however, is the public transportation journey planner. How much easier my stay in Edinburgh would have been if I had only known this existed a few days ago!

Children's area

The children's area of the library recently underwent major renovations. With the advice of librarians (imagine that!) the area was transformed into a bright, colorful and mobile environment. With shelves at the proper height, art on the walls, accent lights that change colors and furniture that could be easily moved it's hard to imagine any other place a child could feel more welcome. This children's area is also completely separated from the rest of the library, so the young ones can be as loud as they want and not disrupt other patrons.
Area for young children

Sitting in that "tree" would have been my favorite reading place as a kid

Fun places to sit in the chapter book room

If one thing is clear, the Central Library has a dedicated and progressive staff willing to take on a challenge (and enjoy it!). I can only hope to one day be employed in an environment of talented and dedicated colleagues, in an area receiving a wealth of community support. I highly recommend that all library students (and anyone else looking for a dose of professional inspiration) chat with Central Library's staff to explore a library's potential and experience forward-thinking innovations. 

And besides, how can a library with a dalek be anything but awesome?
Dalek in the public library

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