The National Library of Scotland plans to put a third of its renowned collection of 24 million items online in the next 10 years in one of the biggest programmes of its kind anywhere in Europe
This ambitious goal is outlined in the National Library of Scotland, Leabharlann Naiseanta na h-Alba, new 2015 – 2020 Library Strategy which was launched last week.
The focus of the strategy, titled The Way Forward, is squarely on openness, access and reducing inequality through the use of digital technology. The Strategy introduces the National Library’s commitment to
…providing easy access to our physical and digital collections and delivering services that are open and available to all. Our determination is to make the knowledge held within our collections as widely available as possible. By breaking down barriers that prevent people engaging in education and learning, we help to reduce inequalities.
Acknowledging the complex and ever changing environment in which the National Library operates, the Strategy highlights some of the challenges it faces in terms of funding, efficiency, improvement, realising the potential of physical collections, embracing the challenges and opportunities of digital technology, and addressing copyright and licensing.
The Strategy identifies seven significant trends, and six strategic priorities, many of which have direct relevance to open education.
forms of knowledge communication will continue to widen, as the book, ebook, ejournal, social media, and data are recast;
libraries will be more open in the way they supply and license information, as well as revealing their day-to-day activities through social media;
4. Supporting learning. We will ensure our collections and services make an important contribution to the education, learning and advancement of our citizens and the success of our nation.
4.1 We will improve equality of opportunity by seeking to remove all barriers which prevent people accessing our collections and services.
5. Inspiring engagement. We will design and deliver public engagement programmes that will educate, entertain and inspire the communities of Scotland.
5.3 We will engage with our users and audiences as partners, collaborators, and supporters, seeking opportunities for them to reuse our content and participate via social media and crowdsourcing. We will be a place of researching, making, and creating.
The National Library aims to support the Scottish Government’s national outcomes for a successful Scotland which include a focus on education, learning, research and innovation.
“Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.”
We contribute to and create new innovative resources for use in schools including ‘Scotland on Screen’ and the Library’s ‘Learning Zone’.
We link with Scottish universities, colleges and schools on innovative research projects.
All our educational resources link to the Curriculum of Excellence and are promoted to schools across Scotland.
The Strategy also demonstrates an admirable commitment to multilinguality with Scots language resources for schools and the ability to search the library catalogue in Gaelic.
In a press release accompanying the Strategy launch, Dr John Scally, National Librarian and Chief Executive of the National Library of Scotland commented
“At no time has it been as possible to reach out beyond our buildings to provide services to people living in every part of Scotland. This new strategy seeks to harness technological developments to achieve the central aim of the National Library — to provide access to knowledge that is inspiring, accessible and relevant to anyone, whether living in or interested in Scotland.”
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, added
“The National Library’s new strategy 2015-20 highlights the key role that the Library plays in educating and supporting research and innovation, and enhancing Scotland’s profile here at home and abroad. I am pleased to see that it is firmly committed to improving access to its impressive collection of 24 million items by developing further its online presence to make its collections more widely available and engage with new and more diverse audiences worldwide.”
While the strategy acknowledges that there are limitations to how content can be used and delivered, due to existing copyright, licensing agreements and legal restrictions, the National Library’s new Strategy demonstrates a clear commitment to increasing openness which will hopefully be an important driver to promoting greater openness across all Scotland’s educational and cultural heritage institutions.