Behind the Scenes at the Library: Stirling
Behind the Scenes at the Library is a blog exploring Scotland's Library Services to discover the hard work, fun and peculiarities of library life.
This month we quiz Stirling Library Service. The service covers a large geographical area both urban and rural and with a population of over 91,000. They have 15 libraries, 2 mobile libraries and 1 unmanned self-issue library and hold an annual Book Festival, 'Off the Page', in May each year plus lots of other events throughout the year.
From digital printing to David Tennant, the Stirling service has it all! Read on to discover more...
What do you love most about your library?
Definitely the staff! They are so customer focused, welcoming and eager to take on new challenges. It doesn’t matter which of Stirling Libraries you visit, you will experience the same service with a smile. Nothing is too much trouble. It is all down to robust recruitment and training, picking the right people, communicating with them and making sure they have the right skills as more and varied pieces of work are introduced to them.
Tell us something we didn’t know about your library?
We have recently acquired some 3d printers, 3d scanners, an HP sprout, some doodle pens and other digital creation tools. Training for staff is being undertaken at the moment but this SLIC funded project will make use of a mobile maker space to encourage young people and non-users along to our libraries. Existing members will also be able to try out this latest technology. It is so exciting to see what this equipment can do and the projects it will be able to link into and support.
What’s your favourite book and why?
It has to be a first edition copy of Ian Rankin’s first published novel The Flood. Up until a few years ago we were happily letting this book go out on loan until an eagle-eyed member of staff said ‘wait a minute!’ We very quickly took this book out of circulation and bought a few paperback copies of The Flood to circulate instead. We are not saying that the book is worth a fortune or anything, but we have to put some value on this. We shudder at the thought of the risk of someone keeping it out on loan indefinitely and losing this hidden gem.
What is the strangest enquiry your library has had?
I remember being very perplexed at an enquiry about a quote in the title page of one of Dean R Koontz novels from The Book of Counted Sorrows. I was asked what The Book of Counted Sorrows was and searched high and low, in my own libraries, in Edinburgh Libraries, the National Library, the Mitchell Library, anywhere I could. This was in the days before the Internet. I was so annoyed because I could usually answer most enquiries or refer people on. Years later the question came up again, on the Internet, and the answer came from Dean R Koontz himself. The answer? ‘Oh I just made it up to bamboozle librarians everywhere’! The original enquiry had come from a young teenage member of a local library I worked in who also happened to be one of my son’s friends. He was both surprised and pleased when he received his answer some twenty years later!
Who’s the most exciting visitor you’ve had?
David Tennant was in Doune doing some acting work and was just outside our Doune Branch Library. The librarian immediately ran out with some of the Dr Who books featuring David Tennant for him to sign. But he refused, he said it would be defacing library books which was against the rules.
A typical day in Stirling Libraries
There is no such thing as a typical day. We are a front facing, customer focused library service and really anyone could walk into the library at any time with any enquiry and we would respond to it. We also have groups ranging from Bookbug Sessions to reminiscence groups, with reading groups, crochet and knitting groups, iPad sessions and job clubs in between times. The variety of the work makes it a very enjoyable and worthwhile job.
Excluding your library what’s the best library you’ve ever been to?
Well we are always looking to improve our libraries in Stirling. A few years ago a few of our staff travelled down to Newcastle City Library because we had heard it was the epitome of design and best practice. It had self-issue machines, clean lines, and décor. It had just been rebuilt and redesigned and was clean, bright and spacious with a café to encourage people to come in, relax and stay for a while. We came back brimming with ideas and have taken some of the elements of this library for some of our refurbishments.
Read more about the incredible work done by libraries.