CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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#LibrariesAreEssential Case Study – Blantyre Library and the Scottish SPCA Animal Foodbank

Category: #LibrariesAreEssential, Blog, Case Studies

In this #LibrariesAreEssential series, we’ll be sharing case studies and contributions from key figures that demonstrate the vital value of Scotland’s libraries, now more than ever, as we look to a brighter future post-pandemic. For details of how to submit your own case study, please click here.

Case study submitted by Kirsten MacQuarrie, Membership Officer for CILIP in Scotland

When I worked in Blantyre Library (one of twenty-three branch libraries that is part of South Lanarkshire Libraries), I often heard from members of our library community who are great animal-lovers like me. Whether they were collecting packets of the free dog bags that the library provides as part of an initiative to keep our streets clean, or simply appreciating the chance to share a few photographs on their phone of their four-legged friend with us, it quickly became apparent that our users cared deeply about animal welfare in Scotland. In my spare time, I am a volunteer for the Scottish SPCA, a national charity that cares for abandoned and mistreated animals all over the country, and many library users told me that they would love to help their local rescue centre in some way, but didn’t know where to start. Inspired by our shared enthusiasm for Scotland’s animals, I decided to set up the Blantyre Library Animal Foodbank. Library visitors and staff could drop off donations of unwanted food, toys or blankets into the collection box, and whenever it became full, I took it to the Lanarkshire Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre.

The initiative immediately captured the imaginations of our library users: many families came in to add a little treat or bag of biscuits on their weekly visits to the library, while one of our regulars even knitted beautiful kitten blankets for the rescue centre’s new arrivals! So many contributors told me that they had long wanted to help vulnerable animals in their community, but it took the library providing an organisational hub and central point for the donations to make it happen. Some had concerns that monetary donations might not go directly to animals in Lanarkshire, while accessibility was also an issue for many, especially those who rely exclusively on public transport and would find it difficult to reach the rescue centre with heavy tins or boxes of food. Thanks to the library acting as a centre for the project, we were able to come together and have a far more meaningful impact than any one of us would have had alone: no-one ever gave more than a tin or two of food or an ordinary box of biscuits at a time, and yet by the end of 2019, we had gathered together 55 bags of donations for the rescue centre. The centre wrote us a letter of thanks, which was pinned to the library noticeboard above the donations box, and at Christmas, the local press also covered the project – in itself, inspiring even more donations!

‘This is the highlight of our week!’ observed one family to library staff as their children dropped off another donation for animals in need. I hope that this project helps to highlight the essential role that libraries play at the heart of their communities: bringing people together to do good and have a collective, compassionate impact.

two women and a dog standing beside a bench loaded with animal food and toy donations

Kirsten and Vicki, the deputy manager of the Lanarkshire ARRC, with some of the library’s donations, and Angel, a rescue dog who has since found her forever home

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