CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Libraries support the local economy

Libraries provide space and resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as supporting job-seekers in various ways. They also help to develop people’s digital and information literacy, which are both crucial for work in the modern world. Support offered in these areas can enhance the local economy.

  • The Mitchell Library in Glasgow hosted Google’s Digital Garage, an initiative that aims to provide digital skills training, in particular to start-ups and small businesses and people looking to change careers. The aim is to ensure individuals and businesses have the key skills necessary to work and thrive in the modern, digital age. Google has said that businesses who participate in Digital Garage’s see benefits such as improved sales and greater engagement with their social media and websites. The provision of this in the library means that now “thousands of small businesses and individuals” have received training in crucial digital skills they need for work or to grow their business (Scottish Government Digital Strategy, p.10). This also ties in with our points on the work of libraries in supporting digital access and skills.
  • The Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) has developed the first-ever national Coworking Network which aims to turn underused public library space in Scotland into places where small businesses and entrepreneurs can come “to work, meet and collaborate in a shared space”. Members of the Scottish Coworking Network can use any library hub in the network for space, online and physical resources, and to hold events and professional development sessions. One example is the recently opened coworking hub in Dundee Central Library, where 8 fixed desks and 5 hot desks are available. These hubs offer important space, equipped with the right resources and surrounded by an abundance of information and books, at an affordable price to help small businesses and entrepreneurs who may otherwise be unable to afford the appropriate space they need to work and grow. By helping to develop and support local people and businesses in this way, public libraries are directly contributing to the local economy and employment.
  • The Ambition & Opportunity Refresh states that many library services now collaborate with other agencies to offer Employability Hubs (p.14). For example, North Ayrshire offers a number of Employability Hubs across the council area. Several of these are based in libraries, such as the Kilbirnie Library Employability Hub which opened in 2016. These hubs are described as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for people looking for work, offering help with CVs and interview skills, employer workshops, skills sessions, and literacy and numeracy support, amongst other forms of support. Similarly, libraries in Inverclyde offer advice and help for people looking for work, changing careers, or seeking to get ahead in their current role. They can support people to find the help they need to develop their interview skills and create a CV. Work Clubs are also held in a number of libraries across Inverclyde each week and these focus on things such as developing attendees’ IT skills and writing CVs.
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