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Edinburgh City Libraries – pushing the boundaries and changing fast

Government and councils are driving change to seek more efficient ways of delivering innovative, customer- focused services, within a challenging financial context.

At the heart of Edinburgh’s Library and Information Services are the people using our libraries. By shaping our service according to people’s needs, we are driving forward constant change, delivering dynamic, award-winning services.

In Edinburgh we’re pushing the boundaries of what our library services can achieve and deliver. This was recognised when we won Library of the Year at the Bookseller Industry Awards.

It is taking us in a direction that was unimaginable even a few years ago. And we’re consulting with our customers to ensure their views are heard. Recently, over 10,000 people shared their views on the future of Edinburgh’s library service.

Public libraries in Edinburgh are now about much more than books. Recent technological innovation has enabled us to create new services, such as virtual reference, ebooks, personalised Online Public Access Catalogue interfaces and downloadable media that customers can use in their own home. A true 24 hour offering.

Our virtual Your Library brings together all Edinburgh’s online library services from language learning to ebook downloads. Customers can join, renew or reserve stock, find out about events, interact with and comment on services using Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and our blog. Over 2 million people visited or used this site during 2011-12.

Edinburgh’s library app is the first of its kind in the UK, and we keep innovating to meet the changing demands of our customers and realise a modern, efficient and dynamic service. We’re determined to meet the needs of Edinburgh’s communities, focusing local Council services within our library buildings. This provides a more efficient and accessible way to deliver services and engage with residents who need our services the most.

Through innovation we continue to deliver excellent public, electronic, educational and cultural programmes, both in libraries and virtually. We are bucking the national trend by refurbishing and opening new libraries, increasing visitor numbers and innovating with our online services.

Our two new libraries at Drumbrae and Craigmillar are a model for future library and local service delivery – library, housing, health and community police services in one place, meaning efficiencies for customers and ourselves.

Throughout all of this we continue to focus on those who rely and benefit most from our libraries services. We work in partnership with HMP Saughton to deliver an award-winning prison library service. With high usage and the development of a multi-agency literacy group for prisoners and their families, our service delivers long-term benefits.

We also work with Dyslexia Scotland to raise awareness of and support people with dyslexia. Last year we even jointly published a new book, Dyslexia and Us.

Our Reading Champion project partners voluntary agencies and council services to increase confidence and communication skills among looked after and accommodated children and young people. It enhances their social and personal development through access to books, libraries and reading. And we help those who can’t visit our libraries to gain access to our services. By working with RVS we provide transport to help people get to and from their local library, or we deliver books directly to people’s homes.

Edinburgh’s services for hard-to-reach customers, cutting-edge website and pioneering app, engaging social media and improved buildings have made it an award winning service.

The Edge Conference brings together change managers, thought leaders and leaders in information services, shared services, engagement, and regeneration to share and develop best practice from around the world.

The key aims of the Edge conference are:

– To make businesses and services edgier, smarter, more creative and cost effective in a world that is being transformed by digital and social technologies

– To learn how libraries and information are delivering regeneration, eGovernment, learning and digital inclusion

– To hear the latest ideas, share success stories, hear best practices and meet colleagues from across the country and around the world

– To open a platform for discussion on the future of service delivery in libraries and information

– To offer a platform for new innovations and technologies