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NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Reading Challenge

This case study is part of Health Librarians Add Value, a campaign run jointly by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and CILIPS. It has been provided by Catriona Denoon, Library Services Manager at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC). Read other case studies here

Outline of the project

The Library Network organises a very popular Reading Challenge which runs between April and September each year. Staff can sign up to read up to 24 items (any books, graphic novels, poems, etc.) and keep a diary of what they read and what they thought of it – good or bad. Those who read 3 items win a bronze award, 6 items gets a silver award, 12 items gets gold, and 24 items gets a platinum award. The award is a certificate and an invite to a presentation at their local hospital library – these are always well attended.

The Challenge is open to all NHSGGC staff or partner organisations, and everyone who completes is entered into a local draw for a small prize. The challenge has grown in popularity over the last few years as it reaches many groups of staff – avid readers, people looking to read something different from their usual choice, or take a break from the pressure of work, and it also encourages people who rarely read or have limited literacy to give it a go. The libraries stock a selection of “quick read” titles (available to view here) to encourage inexperienced readers.

According to the Reading Agency, one in 6 adults struggle to read and one in 4 people will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives. The Library Network Reading Challenge supports staff in their work/life balance, mental health, and literacies. It is also a fun challenge that helps staff make contacts and interact socially with people they would not otherwise meet. Despite the pandemic, users asked that the 2020 Challenge go ahead as planned, as they would appreciate the extra support during a difficult time.


The Reading Challenge is highly valued by library service users. The below quotes show just how appreciated it is:

“It encouraged me to read in the evenings rather than spend my spare time staring at ipad/phone screen/tv.”

“I just felt more invigorated by acquiring new knowledge and a point for discussion with people I know who enjoy reading also.”

“I had a lot of stuff going on, but it did encourage me to start reading again for pleasure so I am grateful for that.”

Reflecting on the service and the benefits it brings, Catriona Denoon said:

The Reading Challenge allows the Library Network to reach staff who would not normally contact Library Services, including domestic, facilities, laundry staff, and others based on sites far from their nearest NHS library. Much of the feedback we get from staff indicates that it helps them to make time for work/life balance, as their work is often busy and stressful. The Challenge has also been matched with two core skills in the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework – C1 Communication and C2 Personal and People Development – so it can be used by staff in their PDPs.

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