Behind the Scenes at the Library: North Ayrshire

Category: Reading

Behind the Scenes at the Library is a blog exploring Scotland's Library Services. Each month we visit a different corner of Scotland to discover the hard work, fun and peculiarities of library life.

This month we're visiting the beating heart of the Ayrshire Library service - Library Support at the Dunlop Centre in Dreghorn.

From murals to dancefloors and Dunlop tyres, read on to delve into life in Dreghorn...


What do you love most about your library?

We love that we are the backbone of North Ayrshire Libraries and Information Service. Without us our customers and colleagues wouldn’t have any books, audio materials or stationery.

We deal with over 2000 requests annually to source books and do our utmost to get hold of copies. We also support 28 book groups with around 500 book titles; distribute Bookbug Bags through health visitors; provide collections to 4 sheltered housing complexes, 12 playgroups and 25 childminders.

We also process around a thousand National Entitlement Card forms for our primary 7 pupils, as well as giving support to 50 primary schools with our junior book group collections and support our 9 secondary schools with the library management system, including ensuring all 1st years are members of their school library. Our driver travels over 400 miles per week delivering resources to communities.


Tell us something we don’t know about your library.

We often think that our customers don’t realise the extent of what we do as listed above!

John Boyd Dunlop
Our building was built in honour of the inventor of the pneumatic tyre, John Boyd Dunlop

- Our building was built in honour of the inventor of the pneumatic tyre, John Boyd Dunlop, and opened to the public in October 1962.

It was financed by the Dunlop Rubber Company, sponsored by Irvine District Council and received donations from the Dunlop family. There is a plaque in the front of the building commemorating Dunlop’s birth in 1840 and death in 1921.

There is also a large portrait of Dunlop who looks over us (as well as our collection of furry friends) and behind one of our rolling stacks is a mural telling the story of Dunlop tyres.

- Our building used to be a community hall and still has its sprung dance floor!

- The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, grew up in Dreghorn and her mother is our Provost and holds her surgeries in the adjacent building.

- Our staff are some of the longest-standing in the service, with 35 years, even the most recent addition has been with us 14 years.


Separate Beds
What's your favourite book and why? 

We remember the time when a book called Separate Beds by LaVyrie Spencer came in to the building and was passed around the staff and it was so well thumbed it had to be rebound before it went to the branches! We do like a good romance!

Other favourites include Book Club books and children’s picture books, which make us smile.


What is the strangest enquiry your library has had?

We often get phone calls from customers who forget the authors/titles of books and ask for books with red covers or with, e.g. a tree on the cover. Another time we can remember a junior member of staff looking under ‘S’ for Barry Shinkov and on further investigation realised it should have been ‘B’ for Baryshnikov!


Who’s the most exciting visitor you’ve had?

A descendant of John Boyd Dunlop from America came to visit us one summer and was interested to see the plaque, portrait and mural. Last year around 20 customers of Dunlop Tyres in Brazil visited as part of a tour following in Dunlop’s footsteps around the UK. This was a prize the company gave to their best customers and they were certainly the most ‘prized’ visitors we have ever had.


Describe a typical day in your library. 

There is no such typical day as there are new challenges all the time. Recently we had some Options for Independence learners from the Red Cross and their support workers looking at our book sale stock to set up their own library. We often help out at events, with other colleagues, promoting the library service at open days and galas. A highlight last year was stewarding one of the locations for the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton. Also, writing this blog is something totally new and unexpected for us.


West Kilbride
Excluding your library, what’s the best library you’ve ever been to?

We love all our North Ayrshire libraries, especially our colleagues who work there, so it is hard to pick a favourite. However, a few of our libraries have stunning views, e.g. West Kilbride Library as well as Millport Library which is situated in a historic Garrison building and has a lovely view of palm trees at the front of the building.

Arran High School Library has a balcony overlooking the bay at Lamlash and is stunning. Our library at Saltcoats has a mural, courtesy of the Scottish Book Trust’s Artwork for Libraries project for Book Week Scotland 2014.



Read more about the incredible work done by libraries



Subscribe to our monthly e-updates for book lovers