Library services in Scotland helped local people through pandemic with unique kindness projects

July 7, 2021

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Small-scale ‘kindness initiatives’, delivered by local libraries are playing a vital role in helping to improve wellbeing according to findings in a new report published by Carnegie UK Trust.

Over the last year, Carnegie UK Trust worked with 10 public libraries in Scotland, providing support and funding to develop and deliver projects that encourage people to think about kindness and to build better relationships with those around them.

Despite being conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic that brought restrictions on the use of library buildings, the report highlights how libraries were able to adapt and innovate, creating opportunities for people to connect in different spaces and through different mediums.

Examples from participating libraries included postcard and letter exchanges between schoolchildren and older members of the community; interactive ‘kindness trees’ where library users could share memories and messages; and virtual cafés that created space for community conversations about kindness.

The key finding from these initiatives is that simple, low cost interventions can have a real impact on wellbeing for library users, workers and the wider community. The authors recommend that library services across Scotland should support their staff to be innovate and think creatively about the vital role they can play in encouraging kindness and improving relationships in their local communities.

Sarah Davidson, CEO of The Carnegie UK Trust, said: “Libraries across Scotland have shown that small interventions underpinned by kindness can have a positive impact on people’s lives. It has been heartening to see libraries’ commitment to exploring the importance of kindness. This came when many communities most needed local togetherness and a sense of community spirit. These initiatives provide a template to inspire public libraries in Scotland to continue playing this vital role.”

Read Creating Space for Kindness here.