CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Public Libraries: I Recall….

Category: Libraries Matter

The following is a guest blog for the #LibrariesMatter campaign provided by Frank Pignatelli CBE CCMI, former Director of Education for Strathclyde Region and former Chief Executive of the Scottish University for Industry.

The public library has featured prominently throughout my life, from my childhood, growing up in a deeply deprived community in Glasgow to my final professional role as chief executive of the Scottish University for Industry.

I recall in the 1950s my mum trooping her three children to the Mitchell Library to seek the answer to a puzzle in the local newspaper upon which none of the family could agree.

I recall in the early 1960s spending hours in our local library in Anderston doing my homework in a warm, quiet, friendly environment with access to books which were not available at home.

I recall in the mid-60s spending long days studying in the Mitchell Library, socialising with other young people preparing for university entrance and having access to the full range of texts required.

I recall during my university languages course having access to a vast range of specialist language texts housed in Gorbals Library.

I recall the early transformation of local libraries into resource centres providing audio tapes and video tapes for borrowing, supporting teachers, pupils, parents and the general public.

Finally I recall the fundamental shift in the role of libraries as digital technologies emerged and our local library gave us access to CD-ROMs and associated hardware and software.

Such recollections confirm for me the central place of libraries in the life of individuals, whether as students, professionals or simply as members of the public.

Present day libraries continue to feature largely in the lives of the public not only in terms of traditional reference and lending services but also in terms of a wider range of services such as homework clubs, book clubs, literacy projects, digital and robotics clubs, free internet and IT support, e-books, virtual reality experiences, social media activities – all of which have enhanced the lives of millions of people, young and old.

I cannot imagine a life where libraries did not feature prominently.

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