In Edinburgh, Scotland, where unemployment has risen to over 18% and 23% of households fall under the low-income threshold, stability has been found in a somewhat unlikely place: a local library. Turning young, rambunctious patrons of the Sighthill library into respectful, law-abiding citizens was a matter of talking to regulars, taking stock of their needs, and addressing them.
Now offering a range of new programs and facilities — everything from a football literacy project to IT classes and creative writing courses held by guest authors like Irvine Welsh — the library may have contributed to some astonishing changes. Reports Peter Hetherington of The Guardian, “Since introducing the new regime, police have reported a two-thirds drop in the number of ‘youth calls’ in the [surrounding] area between 2004 and 2005. At the same time, complaints from library customers over anti-social behaviour have dropped by three-quarters.” And with some of the techniques used at the library being tried out in over two dozen other locations across Edinburgh, Sighthill library administrators were the recent recipients of a prestigious ‘libraries change lives’ award given by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals at a ceremony in Birmingham.
Click here for the story from The Guardian