Universal Offers update – January 2018

SCL’s Universal Offers are central to our aim of supporting libraries to deliver their core library offer and develop new services both of which cement their position as a cornerstone of their communities. Highlights from the end of 2017 include the launch of our new Culture Offer, our digital and family learning roadshows and the success of the Engaging Libraries project. My thanks as ever to the Universal Offer leads, partners and committees who do such an amazing job developing and managing these programmes.

Culture Offer

We launched the culture offer during October in Hull, City of Culture 2017 with ACE Chief Executive Darren Henley and a video message from minister, John Glen. The launch videos and brochure and introductory PowerPoint are all available online. SCL also have a team of regional cultural leads who will be taking the Culture plan forward 2018.

Digital Offer

We have now delivered four digital and family learning roadshows with five more planned during January and February . We have handed over the Single Digital Sign On strategy to Jisc and we have commissioned MetaValue to evaluate the project. The Halifax are keen to develop and support their digital volunteer partnership by becoming involved in library digital and coding clubs. They are also keen to gather feedback from the library community about the value of Halifax volunteers. Supported by SCL, the Libraries Taskforce will commission an independent company to develop a model LMS specification for library services to use/adapt.

Health Offer

The new Reading Well scheme for mental health conditions is due to be launched at Wellcome in June 2018. Our evaluation of the Reading Well scheme 2016/17 was published in October. The Reading Agency are working in partnership with the Prince’s Trust to pilot the use of the Reading Well for young people in Glasgow and Newcastle. Carnegie UK Trust and Wellcome awarded funding to 14 projects as part of their Engaging Libraries scheme to help local communities explore major health and wellbeing issues.

Information Offer

We successfully tendered for UK Visa & Immigration Service contract providing assisted digital for in country visa applications and renewals and the project had a soft launch in September. We are working with We are Digital as the lead partner and Migrant Help UK. Twenty-two library services are taking part, with scope for more to join. SCL and library services across the UK are also involved in a new digital support project which is currently in tender stage. A new Universal Credit full service module has been added to the e-learning courses for staff on our website.

Learning Offer

We developed a new toolkit to help library staff to produce family learning activities. New family learning resources are now online and more will be added over the next few months. The Ada Lovelace tour across 25 libraries in the north successfully engaged schools and communities in digital making workshops. We also joined with ASCEL to meet with DCMS to discuss the role of libraries in promoting internet safety. This year’s Mozfest saw eight SCL members given bursaries to attend the world’s leading festival for the open internet movement.

Reading Offer

We piloted a reader development training package for volunteers across three different library authorities and we commissioned Opening the Book to develop an e.learning training module for staff. This will be published on Learning Pool on 29 January. A total of 761,758 children across the UK took part in the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge- an increase of 6,550 on 2016’s total. We are currently taking part in a strategic review of the Summer Reading Challenge, led by The Reading Agency. The Reading Hack project engaged over 10,700 young people aged 13-24 in 2016/17 and the project will extend to Wales this year. We are also working in partnership with other agencies to promote e-lending in light of the recent passage of the Digital Economy Act.

Six Steps

We delivered a Six Steps Workshop with RNIB for East Sussex Libraries where around thirty library staff from across the county took part. We plan to use the community led libraries templates developed for the Reading Offer to produce a similar product to cover the basics of how to ensure public library services are accessible to people with sight loss. We will also be reviewing Make a Noise in Libraries Fortnight with a view to widening the scope of this event.

Children’s Promise

We launched the Bump Booster toolkit in October to help encourage parents to read and sing to their unborn baby. The Quality Principles for Rhymetimes framework also launched at the ASCEL conference in November. There is a new section of the ASCEL website devoted to school library services with new branding and its own twitter handle @sls_uk Finally the Read On Get On Coalition launched the first robust measure of children’s reading at age 11.

The coming year promises to be an even more exciting time for SCL and the services that we plan to deliver via our Universal Offers.
Neil MacInnes
President, SCL