2nd June 2020
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Library and nursery highlighted in positive reports

Councillors have warmly welcomed two separate assessment and inspection reports.

The first concerned Shetland Library in Lerwick, while the second focused on a follow-up visit by Education Scotland officials to the Cunningsburgh Primary School nursery class.

A review of the library was carried out in 2019 when three visiting assessors from separate universities visited the Lerwick premises.

They were working under the umbrella of the How Good is Our Public Library Service evaluation framework.

They examined school library provision as well as a mobile library and outreach provision, as well as key services at the main library in the Lower Hillhead.

A report before members of the education and families committee welcomed the “commitment and dedication of staff”, and highlighted the enthusiasm of those on the frontline.

Assessors also found a “strong and well-developed” service for children and young people, with examples of good practice including the “inter-generational” Bookbug.

Good marketing of eBook provision was also found to correlate with increased loans and usage.

Overall, the library was assessed as being “very good” when it came to readers’ experience, while a learning culture category was said to be “good”.

Shetland West member Catherine Hughson said the findings amounted to a “really positive report”. She raised questions around how school libraries could be made more available to wider communities.

Library manager Karen Fraser said community use was already offered in some school libraries, although she said the hours they were available to the public “are quite limited” because the doors could not be opened during school times.

However, she said plans were afoot to pilot public access computers, initially at the school in Baltasound – although there are plans to roll it out further to other schools later.

Lerwick South councillor Amanda Hawick said she had been contacted by someone who was “absolutely astounded” there was no penalty in Shetland for the late return of books.

“Is that something we should be looking at in future?” she asked.

Chairman George Smith said financial penalties had been imposed in the past for late returns.

“We did away with it because it was counter-productive,” he said.

Ms Fraser said trying to impose fines diverted staff and acted as a barrier, particularly to people on low incomes.

Mr Smith said the recognition was even more welcome given the “upheaval” the service is facing in the coming months with its much-discussed move from St Ringan’s.

Cunningsburgh Primary indoor/outdoor area

Later, members also welcomed the response by Education Scotland to the Cunningsburgh nursery.

An initial inspection at the school found some areas lacking.

But a follow-up visit to the nursery has been glowing in its terms, holding it up as an example of good practice.

Quality improvement official for early learning and childcare Samantha Flaws, who was accompanied by Cunningsburgh’s head teacher Wilma Sineath, said the experiences were being shared by the University of Strathclyde.

She said the innovative “indoor/outdoor” space at Cunningsburgh had been well received.

“It’s certainly something that’s got a lot of people talking in relation to really good practice,” she said.

Shetland South member Robbie Mcgregor said the work was worthy of “shouting from the rooftops”.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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