CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
Navigation Close

The power and potential that libraries and information professionals have

Category: Inspiration for the Nation 2016

Guest Blog by Louise Macdonald OBE, Chief Executive of Young Scot as part of the ‘Scotland’s Libraries: Inspiration for the Nation’ Campaign. 

Hyperlocal, personalisation, customisation > just some of the key trends (and frequent buzzwords) for marketers and service providers across the world. Essentially, providing people with information, products and services tailored to their local communities. Well, guess what, this isn’t anything new…libraries are already doing this on a day-to-day basis, and have been for years!

Libraries have long been the eyes and ears of local communities, but how does this translate into providing relevant and responsive information and services to young people in Scotland in an increasingly digital age? How can libraries support young people by giving them the access, tools and, most importantly, the space to explore and experiment in a safe environment?

The central purpose of Young Scot is to support young people as they make meaning in their lives as they grow and face vital transitions into adulthood. Access to information is a vital part of this. Playing my part as a member of the new National Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland reinforced the incredible potential of libraries as part of the eco-system required to support our young people.

In particular, the digital strand of the strategy is vitally important as social/digital technologies continue to represent opportunity and potential for young people. The way that young people are discovering, navigating and consuming information is evolving and this is changing the dynamic between technology and the user. Libraries are central to bridging the gap between emerging digital technologies and young people > providing a physical space where young people have access to the kit and the network to grow, thrive and achieve. The commitment to providing free Wi-Fi access across public libraries also ensures that no young person is left behind.

Along with providing the space, there is a requirement as Information Professionals and service providers to understand the current environment for young people to be able to support, guide and advise. Providing a non-judgemental space for creativity, exploration and experimentation will allow young people to become agents for change in their local and global communities, not just in the future, but as citizens now.

Libraries are central to Young Scot, providing access and validation for young people’s Young Scot NEC card applications, but there are many more opportunities that we can work together, nationally and locally to explore, experiment and co-design services and spaces together, led by young people. We are excited as an organisation about the potential of collaboration, and the lasting impact of libraries.

In challenging times, it can be easy to forget the power and potential that Libraries and Information Professionals have to transform the lives of young people in their communities in so many ways every single day. My ask would be for everyone to reflect on that power, and to use it wisely and with compassion. Young people deserve nothing less.

You can follow Louise on Twitter @Louisemac

Find out more about Young Scot on: and

Skip to content