Renfrewshire’s mobile children’s library outreach service, the uniquely named Skoobmobile, featuring friendly book monsters known as the Skoobs, has been shortlisted for the prestigious CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award for best practice in UK library services.
Promoting reading and play combined for children age 0-12, the mobile library stocks a broad range of children’s books in a flexible space that houses a range of activities based around play, reading and physical and digital activity. The bus tours the community to open its doors to children and adults at schools, nurseries, community spaces and family events.
Over the school holidays, the mobile has been offering ‘Play In the Park’ sessions in parks and green spaces, encouraging families to get onboard to listen to a children’s story before completing an outdoor activity trail. Other activities include Bedtime Reading on board the Skoobmobile, Lego storytelling, The Summer Reading Challenge and Bookbug programmes; and tailored partnerships with local primary schools.
The team looking after the service include Pauline Simpson, co-ordinator of Renfrewshire’s Children and Families mobile library service and Andrew Givan, Children and Families Development Co-ordinator. On–board staff are playworker Deborah Coulter and mobile library workers Jimi McGuigan and Laurence Doherty. In 2015, the bus won a Delegate’s Choice Award for the Best Mobile Library at the national conference of CILIP’s Public and Mobile Libraries Special Interest Group.
Skoobmobile’s primary aim is to improve children’s life chances by encouraging a lasting interest in reading, literacy, physical activity and learning; bringing the opportunities of the public library service directly to children and families where they are gathered in the community.
The service targets schools more than a mile from a public library and nurseries and preschools more than 0.7 miles from a library; and works more intensively with schools in the Scottish Index Multiple Deprivation zones. From its launch in April 2015, to February 2016, there were 10,907 visits to the Skoobmobile by children and 1,859 visits by adults, lasting from 20 minutes to 1.5 hours. The service has visited 28 different primary schools, 21 pre-5 establishments and all schools for children with additional support needs, working with community groups, third sector organisations and health agencies.
Joyce McKellar, Chief Executive, Renfrewshire Leisure – “The Skoobmobile is playing a positive role in engaging with children and their families to encourage parents to read more with their children, and to enjoy playing and learning together. The dedicated Skoobmobile team are committed to bringing a high quality service to schools, nurseries and community venues and are making a real difference to the lives of people in Renfrewshire”.
Councillor Jim Harte, Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure – “It is so important for our children to have access to a place where they can learn, have fun and develop. The Skoobmobile is great as it travels to places where children are less likely to have access to their local library service, and gives them the chance to explore new books and take part in some exciting activities.”
Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education Policy Board – “Encouraging children to read from an early age puts in place good habits for later in life. Reading is so important when it comes to language skills and creative development, and we think the Skoobmobile is a great way to get children excited about reading.”
Chair of Judges John Vincent – “The 2016 Libraries Change Lives shortlist is all about wellbeing, and showcases services targeted towards health as an extension of the library’s core functions around literacy, keeping people informed, and supporting social justice in our communities. These three different library services clearly show the need for non-clinical spaces and support and the increasing role libraries are playing as a channel for the public health message.”
The award is judged by CILIP’s Community, Diversity and Equality Group (CDEG). The winner will be announced on Thursday 29 Septemberand will receive a £4000 investment from CILIP. Over 24 years, the award has recognised a number of targeted initiatives around health and wellbeing, including bibliotherapy and services designed to support local populations dealing with dementia, autism, visual impairment, domestic abuse and mental health issues.
Ongoing initiatives recognised by the award include Bookstart, the Government-backed scheme first piloted by Birmingham Libraries which now reaches 3 million babies and their parents across the UK, and The City of Edinburgh’s HMP Edinburgh Library Partnership; an initiative that has transformed engagement among the prison population, tackling social exclusion and providing education and employment opportunities for a better transition to community life.
More details of the award and finalists can be found at: cilip.org.uk/lcla or via the hashtag #LCLA2016