” People often say that football and boxing are the ways out of the working class and they are your ticket out of that kind of life, if you happen to want to leave it. But, for me, the library is the key. That is where the escape tunnel is. All of the knowledge in the world is there. The great brains of the world are at your fingertips”

Sir Billy Connolly

What a global champion for the public library! Immortalised in street murals across Glasgow!

Billy Connolly – Glasgow’s Library champion

How many places do you know that are safe, warm, free and offer countless opportunities to learn and interact, to get information to get free digital access?

The pandemic has changed us all probably forever! Even as society undergoes continuous change the public library continues to be considered by some as a much-loved and respected institution even by many of those who have never used them but who can still see their wider democratic and civic value. It is still widely and globally recognised as a catalyst for change, facilitating social, economic and cultural development and supporting communities to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them by a modern society. We must get better at telling the world what we do and can do!

Sir Billy Connolly

Like Sir Billy Connolly this is a great example from Leeds Library Service on gathering stories of the impact they have had.

Leeds Library service Billboard

When I was an unhappy little boy, GOING TO THE LIBRARY CHANGED MY LIFE. It may even have saved it. With my aunt making my life hell and Big Rosie beating the shit out of me on a daily basis, I lived in a dark and forbidding world as a kid. But I only had to leave our home and walk over the tramlines to Partick Library and a whole new world opened to me. Reading books showed me that there was something better, something other, out there”

Sir Billy Connolly

Billy Connolly
Sir Billy Connolly

I too was born in Anderston in Glasgow- the same area where Billy Connolly grew up. Like Billy and many others the library was a haven, an escape into other worlds. I was fortunate that my dad was a great reader and believer in education

From the day I walked through the turnstile and got my first 3 little library tickets I was in love with reading and libraries and I read my way through the whole children’s library. We weren’t allowed in the adult library so I got my dad to start bringing me books from there. Folk tales and legends were my favourites and nowadays I’m not sure how appropriate they were but I devoured all the Dennis Wheatley novels I could get my hands on.

Old library ticket

Connections not Collections! While many people immediately associate libraries with books, but for many of us in public libraries a huge part of our role is about people, a sense of place and forging connections – be it people, resources, agendas, or partners.  It is about connecting people to each other, connecting people to content and information and also connecting people to their local place. Planning how this could be achieved now in the virtual realm is one of our biggest priorities.

Those libraries who have thrived have moved from an emphasis on collections to connections, to making real partnerships with our communities and understanding what they need from us. They have recognised that customers are the new currency and that creating the right customer experience across multiple channels is critical.

Those “connected” public libraries are wonderful catalysts for addressing so many societal problems, and put libraries and librarians in the best position to partner with local governments and agencies to address the needs of communities.

From information, digital access and learning to support for jobs and careers. This means nurturing our staff, people and communities to be passionate about people, learning and contribution.

Digital learning
Digital learning in the library

Communicating about library services must become a priority. We know what services we offer, unfortunately, not all our customers are aware of what we offer. As a consequence, many of the products we offer are underused and customers turn to (search) solutions that may be considered inferior to what we offer.

Promote, promote promote!

Billy Connolly -Glasgow Street art mural

You can read more of Billy’s article here http://bitly.ws/bMEI


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