CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Meet the Shortlist – Alison McAllister

The Scottish Library and Information Professional of the Year Award graphic, showing the CILIPS logo in white in front of a blue, black and white background of a solar galaxy

Alison McAllister, Library and Information Service Manager (North Ayrshire Council)

A strong advocate for health information in public and school libraries, Alison contributed to the Carnegie UK Trust’s 2020 ‘Making a Difference: Libraries, Lockdown and Looking Ahead’ report. Several of North Ayrshire’s public libraries became Health and Wellbeing Hubs for their HSCP colleagues during the pandemic, and this was highlighted as good practice within the report. Alison is also a member of the Learning Programme for Information for Wellbeing Steering Group and a member of the Association of Public Libraries in Scotland (APLS) Wellbeing in Libraries group, who have developed an advocacy document that will showcase how libraries contribute to social, economic, cultural and health outcomes in our communities.

During lockdown, Alison adapted North Ayrshire’s Makerspace project, funded by Ayrshire LEADER, to answer a call from the Scottish Government to use the 3D printers to print visors and shields, which were then distributed for use by local hospital staff. Alison’s teams also rose to the challenges of the pandemic by delivering Virtual Class Visits (VCVs), with 28 VCVs now on North Ayrshire’s Education Resource Service Glow Blog: each including an animated library visit from a team member and an animated school pupil, a video introduction to the topic, a Web Quest quiz and a video of a craft activity.

In July 2021, Alison became the Secretary of APLS, and she has been an active member of the APLS Recovery Group throughout the pandemic. Having been one of the original members of the Library Management System consortia, she has also taken on the role of SCoPL Chair for 2021. Alison served as a judge for the CILIP Libraries Change Lives award after North Ayrshire won the award for their Appiness project, and she was proud of the team who were successful in gaining The Edge Digital Award for their DigiDabble project. Alison shared the learning from these and other projects at the CILIPS Annual Conference, the CILIPS Autumn Gathering, Vocal and the PMLG & CDEG Conference, subsequently welcoming visits from other library services who were inspired to engage in similar projects. CILIPS Online Learning sessions have also featured the Makerspace project, North Ayrshire’s PLIF-funded ‘Open Data’ project and the SLIF-funded ‘Building Better Readers’ project. North Ayrshire’s SLIF-funded ‘Express Yourself’ initiative was included in the 2020 SLIC Showcase, and Alison has also led several PLIF projects with internal and external partners.

Our award shortlist judges were deeply impressed by Alison’s commitment to innovation, particularly during the difficult circumstances of lockdown. They also admired the strong leadership she has shown in supporting her library team throughout this challenging time, as well as through her ongoing involvement with numerous sector committees. Her rapid response in embracing digital opportunities during lockdown was commended, and the judges praised her commitment to timely and innovative initiatives such as the Makerspace project.

Many congratulations to Alison for her exceptional achievements this year and a very well-deserved place on the shortlist. For more on Scotland’s Library & Information Professional of the Year Award, please click here.

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