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Libraries Change Lives: Glasgow Libraries and CAB

THE winner of this year’s CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award has been revealed as Glasgow Libraries.

The annual award is a recognition of projects that are helping local communities, and Glasgow’s decision to incorporate a Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in Mitchell Library, the busiest in the city, has been chosen as this year’s winner. The winner was announced during Libraries Week and judges praised Glasgow Libraries’ efforts to engage with marginalised users in new ways.

John Vincent, Chair of Judges, said: “Glasgow Libraries’ work with their Citizens Advice partners targets people in libraries, who may, in other places and other circumstances, be asked to ‘move on’. Here, Glasgow decided to do something positive, and the difference in approach shines through. Library staff are committed to seeing what positive impact the library can have, and also demonstrate an empathetic approach to homeless people – they are ibrary users, after all, and the library and Citizens Advice Bureau have developed tailored, individualised ways of offering information and other practical support.”Two other projects were shortlisted in the award – Kirklees Libraries’ Well Into Words sensory storytelling project for people with learning difficulties, visual impairments and those living with dementia; and Newcastle Libraries’ Get Online Newcastle, a partnership with Your Homes Newcastle to give residents digital skills training.

John said: “All three demonstrated the ways in which library staff engage with people, both in libraries and in the wider community, helping to meet their information and reading needs – but also adding so much more. Their work shows powerful connections being formed between libraries and their communities.”

Glasgow’s scheme has already proved successful in tangible ways, according to Karen Donnelly, Business Information and Mitchell Library Operations Manager. She said: “Through the In-Reach project, Mitchell Library staff and staff from the Citizens Advice Bureau discovered we were in a unique position to be able to engage with a section of society who are very difficult to reach.

“These are people who might have thought that there was nothing in the library for them. Mitchell Library staff identify those who are potentially at risk in the library to CAB’s In-reach worker who then makes contact and offers the support they need.

“The In-Reach project has taken people off the streets, in some cases found them permanent homes, provided access to benefits they didn’t know they were entitled to, supported them with financial, legal and medical advice, and offered people a warmth, kindness and a safe place to be.”

Each of the schemes offers elements that can be adapted or repeated by other library services to fit local needs. For more information, including videos, from the winner and shortlisted schemes click here.

Published: 23 October 2018

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