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#Stream My Story – Stepping into Online Stories: a Scottish Libraries Collaborative

Category: Blog, News

by Gillian Hunt, Customer Services Librarian, North Lanarkshire Libraries

One of the first things that happened following the unprecedented closure of our libraries during lockdown in March 2020, is that librarians around Scotland logged onto our various professional networks and forums to ask, ‘How do we navigate this?’

From a real concern and drive to try and support our communities in the best way we could, many of us looked at how we could pool our resources and provide an online replacement for the types of activities that people come to look for in the library. We had a collective aim to reflect the shared ideas, practice and creativity of children’s services in public libraries, and to address the barriers we were facing in providing content when libraries were not accessible.

As the shift to online events began, the Library Strategy Groups for Children and Young People, and for Early Years, with the support of SLIC, set up a new forum on the Basecamp network to shape ideas on what we could create and curate and whether it could replicate the buzz of a visiting children’s author to a library?

At home and in libraries,  staff faced challenging times working behind the scenes to maintain their own library services, and so it was inspiring that so many of us got together to kick start an exciting collaborative project to make that happen.

Using our partnership with Scottish Book Trust, we pooled our resources to create and share digital content for the Silly Squad Summer Reading Challenge in 2020. Wonderful videos from some of our favourite authors including David MacPhail and Pamela Butchart, were used by Scottish library authorities to support and promote the Reading Challenge.

This exposure led to a very welcome funding opportunity from Creative Scotland who awarded our group £20,000 to allow us to build on our strong collaboration going forward by:

  • Improving librarians’ understanding of good practice in digital and blended programmes
  • Collaborating and co-producing content with authors/illustrators
  • Developing and training staff to improve marketing, promotion, communication and audience engagement more effective for ‘lockdown’ digital content access across libraries/writing communities
  • Advancing awareness of the unique role of libraries as curators of content, not just producers of content
  • Facilitating a strong understanding of technical knowledge for production of audio-visual conferencing/event production within the librarian community

Bringing together our wealth of knowledge and experience in running physical author events and book festivals, we realised that to confidently deliver a digital programme similar to the unique experiences that libraries offer to children around Scotland, an online hub was needed where we could develop, present and share quality online content.

The group stepped up to the challenge – encouraging each other, sharing opinions, skills, and time to build a consensus of what we wanted our hub to look like.  We split the tasks of programming, digital presentation, marketing, graphics, and budgets into subgroups, coming together on a regular basis to check our progress and plan new tasks. Slightly curtailed by the happy lifting of restrictions and the reopening of libraries, in June 2021 we launched our first videos on our new YouTube platform #StreamMyStory.

Looking back today at what we have managed to achieve, the group consensus is one of pride:

  • We have a strong programme of children and young people’s online author/illustrator events to promote library services and reading to educators, parents, children and beyond.
  • Our authors and illustrators have had new opportunities to connect, collaborate and co-produce programmes for Scottish Libraries.
  • Librarians have an enhanced understanding of both the needs of our communities post-Covid, and how to create a rich and diverse programme to support these.

The confidence and experience gained has already had an impact, directing us to again collaborate to successfully bid for equipment to allow libraries to develop plans and train staff to produce digital content and embed these skills in the workplace.

This project is ongoing and the group are building on the framework of #StreamMyStory to create a more lasting and adaptable digital resource, and as we move into a pivotal time for libraries, we look forward to continuing our collaboration.

Find #StreamMyStory on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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