Behind the Scenes at the Library: East Dunbartonshire

World Book Day
Category: Reading

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 spoke to Michelle at the William Patrick Library in East Dunbartonshire. Established in 1929 by Kirkintilloch Town Council, the William Patrick Library is the largest library in East Dunbartonshire and the library headquarters for the district. It's operated by East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture Trust, on behalf of East Dunbartonshire Council and currently has twelve staff who work across Lending, Archives and Local Studies and has over twenty thousand library members.

1. What do you love most about your library?

I love the range of different library users we work with and the events and initiatives that the library takes part in. The William Patrick Library is part of a community hub so we are fortunate in that we get people coming through our doors that wouldn't necessarily seek out the library, but who use our services as a result of visiting the Hub. I also love the fact that it's the library that I grew up with. I remember being served as a child by members of staff that I now work alongside. We are lucky to have staff that have been with us for decades, and the wealth of knowledge and experience that our team has as a result.

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

This is actually the second William Patrick Library (affectionately referred to as 'The Willy P' by staff). The original William Patrick Memorial Library was a house, gifted by David Patrick to Kirkintilloch Town Council in 1929 in memory of his brother and local minister William Patrick. The library relocated to a purpose-built library in 1994, and was refurbished as a community hub in 2012. Stained glass panels from the original William Patrick Library are installed in our foyer.

A Song of Fire and Ice
3. What’s your favourite book and why?

That's a cruel question! I read a lot so my favourite book is always changing. George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire is the best series I have ever read. He manages to create a completely fantastical world that is still relatable, and complex characters that you get so attached to - only for Martin to kill them off! 

My favourite book of this year so far is The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson, featuring a very well written and strangely likeable psychopath.

4. Excluding your library, what’s the best library you’ve ever been to?

I would have said Breadalbane Community Library but Wendy from Glasgow Women's Library got in there first. It's a great example of a successful community hub library. It's such an inviting, well designed space, in the beautiful village of Aberfeldy.
I'm a Glasgow University graduate so I have a bias towards the university library, although it's certainly not the most beautiful library building. It dominates the Glasgow skyline and the views from the twelfth floor are incredible, and rather distracting if you are trying to study! Although it is a massive library, there is a cosiness to it with its old-fashioned study desks.

5. What is the strangest enquiry your library has had?

As a public library, we receive weird and wonderful enquiries every day, from local history enquiries about local worthies to the more general reference or bibliographic enquiry. One that sticks out among staff is 'What counselling services do we provide for people who identify as Jedi?'. We regretfully informed the enquirer that we do not currently provide any services to support local Jedis.

6. Describe a typical day in the your library.

There isn't really a typical day in the William Patrick. As a public library, no two days are the same. Before the library opens staff tidy shelves, attend meetings and training, perform checks on archive stores, etc. When we open, we serve the public - be that through enquiries, issuing laptops, IT support, and so on.

We also create promotional displays - we especially love big impact displays! A recent display was Crime World, featuring a crime scene, complete with body outline, evidence wall and murder weapon (a heavy book!).

Depending on the day of the week there will be reading groups, Bookbug Sessions and other events to support. We also have weekly Relaxing Reads sessions where people can listen to staff reading aloud, and Tablet Tips sessions for sorting out those iPad or Android niggles.


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