2015 Libraries Change Lives Award winner

Appiness, North Ayrshire Libraries' digital learning and esafety programme for preschoolers and parents has won the 2015 CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award.

About the winner

Appiness is a digital education programme that kick-starts very young children’s learning in a range of areas including literacy, numeracy, art, music, science and technology.

The project teaches the safe and informed use of digital technologies including PCs and tablets to access a  special collection of learning materials and apps/ Parents also take part in the programme, learning about online safety controls and how to use technology to support their child’s development.

Development

The targeted initiative was developed by North Ayrshire Council’s library staff as an early intervention against challenges around poverty and attainment in the area, which has Scotland’s highest level of youth unemployment.

Local primary school Headteacher, Dennis Hopkins, has welcomed the programme as a boost to the children’s formal education, saying: “I’ve now got a team of digital leaders in my school who can easily transfer those skills across the curriculum, who can easily transfer those skills to other groups in the school – including the staff.”

Success so far

Nearly 200 children have taken part to date and over 250 adults, most of whom had expressed fears about their child’s safety when using technology and a lack of knowledge around online safety prior to the programme, according to library staff. A report published by Ofcom in 2014 warned that there is a widespread lack of parental awareness around safely managing children’s online access in the UK, with one in eight parents unaware of, or lacking knowledge of how to use, online parental controls.

Reactions to the win

Lisa Morton and Mhairi Cook, the two pioneering Council employees behind Appiness, accepted the award from CILIP President Jan Parry on behalf of North Ayrshire Council. The Council will also receive £4,000 prize money from CILIP to invest in the continued running of the initiative. 

Executive Director for Economy and Communities, Karen Yeomans is delighted that the innovative pair have brought award-winning kudos to North Ayrshire Council’s library services. She said: “Mhairi and Lisa identified a unique learning opportunity and used their innovation to maximise that opportunity by turning a potentially negative situation into a positive outcome.

“They showed real tenacity and passion for their unique library project and I am really delighted that their belief in Appiness has resulted in this much-coveted award. It brings kudos to our library services and demonstrates the transformation taking place across the Council in improving its services.”

North Ayrshire Council Leader, Willie Gibson, added:

The CILIP Award is one of the most prestigious cultural accolades available on a national scale. Thanks to two dedicated and passionate employees, North Ayrshire Council’s library services has been given a public platform to challenge traditional perceptions of the kind of services libraries can offer. Their role in the community has changed significantly and to the considerable benefit of service-users.”

Chair of Judges John Vincent said: 

North Ayrshire Council’s library staff have demonstrated a deep understanding of their community and put their expertise into bettering opportunities for those growing up in the area. This is an intelligent service that delivers significant value in support of children’s education and family learning, online safety and digital leadership, and could be replicated elsewhere. I congratulate North Ayrshire Council’s library staff for their expertise and innovation.”