Changing the way we look at libraries? An evaluation of East Renfrewshire's Look at Libraries festival

Rooney-Browne, C. (2008) Changing the way we look at libraries? An evaluation of East Renfrewshire's Look at Libraries festival. Library Review, 57 (1). pp. 50-66. (

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The current financial and political climate means that libraries are more accountable to their stakeholders and are under increasing pressure to justify their place and value in an ever-changing information society. The purpose of this report is to discuss how one local library and information service has adapted to changes in cultural demands and user expectations to deliver a concept that communicates its social value to all of its stakeholders. The report combines quantitative and qualitative research techniques to determine the outputs and outcomes of the project and to assess if key objectives have been achieved. The results of this evaluation confirm that the Look at Libraries Festival has been embraced by event attendees, staff, participants and the community. The research also illustrates that the demands and expectations of two communities can vary dramatically, posing the question: is it right to judge libraries so heavily on their outputs? The emerging impact of the festival also supports the argument that the local library service can support its parent body to achieve overall community objectives. The research was conducted during a four week academic placement period within East Renfrewshire Council Library and Information Service. The depth of the research has been challenged by limitations associated with time and resources. Therefore, the findings must be viewed as preliminary and suggestive rather than exhaustive. The case study reveals an innovative approach by a public library and information service to challenge perceptions, communicate changes in service provision, market public libraries, attract new members and establish an effective brand extension for the service.