A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

Keep the Heid and Read!

On World Book Day (3 March 2022), a new Scotland-wide reading initiative has been announced to inspire and encourage people to read every day to boost their mental health and wellbeing.

A national reading moment, called ‘Keep the Heid and Read!’, will take place on Wednesday 11 May, during Mental Health Week (9-15 May 2022).  Readers of all ages and abilities are encouraged to pledge to read for just six minutes on 11 May – and they can read anything, from books and magazines to comics, graphic novels and blogs.

An online totaliser to count the overall reading time pledged by the nation will be launched next month (April), and people can sign up to get involved.

The reading campaign is led by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and Scotland’s 32 public library services.

The idea was inspired by the post-lockdown plea for public libraries to reopen and the growing recognition that libraries play a valuable role in supporting mental health and wellbeing by connecting communities.

It is taking place during Mental Health Week because of the known mental and emotional health benefits of reading.  Research shows that reading for just six minutes a day can reduce stress by 68 per cent*.  Establishing a regular reading habit has the biggest impact on mental health and wellbeing.

Pamela Tulloch, chief executive at SLIC said: “The reading moment came about from an awareness that people have missed their libraries during the pandemic, coupled with the joy and benefits people gain from reading. It is the most popular cultural activity people undertake and, during the COVID-19 lockdown, reading was the nation’s most popular pastime.

“We want everyone to get involved on 11 May by pledging to read for six minutes.  It is a great way for people to reconnect with their local libraries, which offer an abundance of free reading material and library staff can make recommendations based on reading ability and interests.  Getting lost in a good book is a highly effective stress reliever and reading fiction, in particular, can inspire creativity and boost emotional intelligence, not to mention improve overall levels of literacy.”

Chris O’Sullivan, Head of Communications and Fundraising at Mental Health Foundation in Scotland, said: “We’re delighted to support ‘Keep the Heid and Read’.  Local libraries are a fantastic source of support in our communities and we hope that every person in Scotland has, and continues to have, access to the world of books, social connection and services they offer.  We know that reading has many benefits for our mental health; it can bring us joy, help us to relax and it can help alleviate the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.  We encourage everyone to take part in the six minute reading event during mental health week and develop a reading habit.”

Culture Minister Neil Gray said: “Reading books for pleasure can have a huge impact on our wellbeing so I’m delighted to support this Scotland-wide reading initiative.

“Our libraries have a vital role to play in reconnecting communities and promoting health and well-being as we recover from the pandemic.

“I’ll be pledging my six minutes of reading on 11 May and would encourage everyone else to pick up a book to do the same to support their local libraries.”


Notes to editors

Issued by Clark on behalf of SLIC.  Contact Angela Hughes, angela@clarkcommunications.co.uk / 07970 184 198, or Joel Meekison joel@clarkcommunications.co.uk, 07921 687 626

  • The reading pledge sign-up and online totaliser will be online at keeptheheid.scot from mid-April
  • *Study conducted by researchers at the University of Sussex: Dr. David Lewis “Galaxy Stress Research,” Mindlab International, Sussex University (2009)
  • SLIC is the independent advisory body to the Scottish Government on library matters scottishlibraries.org

 Reproduced from SLIC’s press release.

March 5, 2022

Forward: Scotland’s Public Library Strategy 2021-2025

Scotland’s latest public library strategy has been published.

Forward builds on strong foundations & the collective desire for a vibrant, sustainable future for our public library network.

Delivered by the Scottish Library Information Council (SLIC), this brilliant new public library strategy clearly marks the direction of travel for Scotland’s public libraries.

It is the result of a comprehensive research and consultation process, global in reach yet firmly focused on the needs of individuals and communities in Scotland.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this strategy embraces the collective desire to not simply return to normal but to do things differently, more efficiently, and more sustainably. Informed and shaped by key national policies and priorities, it places libraries at the heart of recovery.

Three key themes underpin the vision for public libraries in Scotland from 2021-2025: people, place and partnership.

Download Forward: Scotland’s Public Library Strategy 2021-2025.

August 31, 2021

Board members wanted for Scottish Library Information Council (SLIC)

The Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) is seeking to appoint new members to its Board. The appointments are for three years and will run from November 2020.

SLIC is the independent advisory body to the Scottish Government on library and information related matters. It is a registered charity and an independent company. It is also a membership organisation representing the interests of public, academic, FE College and special interest libraries within Scotland. The organisation has been going through a period of growth, delivering a range of projects and initiatives on behalf of the Scottish Government and partner organisations.

SLIC particularly welcomes expressions of interest from individuals with experience in human resources and organisational development, although a general interest in libraries is also relevant.

Applications from marginalised groups, including disabled people and those from black and minority ethnic communities would be particularly welcome.

Download the SLIC Board Information Pack and find out more about SLIC by visiting the About Us pages.

Send a CV together with a brief statement outlining the reasons for your interest and what you would bring to the Board to the Chief Executive at applications@scottishlibraries.org no later than 12 noon on Friday 21 August 2020.

July 13, 2020

Notes on Visions of the Future: Libraries @ Edinburgh International Book Festival

Sunday 27 August 2017, 7.30-9pm, Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Featuring: Julia Donaldson, Pete White, Dr Jenny Peachey, chair: David Chipakupaku

Format: short presentation by each guest, followed by group discussion, then audience questions.

Julia Donaldson, children’s author and Children’s Laureate 2011-2013

Read out two examples of letters from parents who use the libraries in different ways, including the difficulties in accessing ‘hubs’ – rather than smaller local libraries – for some parents. She had heard comments that some librarians didn’t dare speak out: “librarians are not allowed to say, ‘our libraries are doing well'”. Emphasised that although understandable some cuts need to be made in times of financial difficulty, it would be disastrous if buildings were sold and we couldn’t get them back.

Jenny Peachey, Senior Policy and Development Officer, Carnegie UK Trust

Shared stats from Carnegie Trust report ‘Shining a Light: The future of public libraries across the UK and Ireland.’ Showed that although library membership is doing well, frequency of use is down (from 2011-2016), and that there’s a value action gap (i.e.libraries are seen as crucial but are not necessarily being used). Issue of two very different user groups, who need two different messages. There’s an appetite for change amongst the public, including increased council services available in libraries, more events and more cafes). Increased range of books was not seen as a priority for many people. Potential improvements: digital offer, a more tailored offer, which recognises that it’s not a universal/broad service? Also: Create a workplace culture of innovation which empowers library staff and share learning across the jurisdictions, which all have different strengths and weaknesses.

Pete White, Chief Executive of Positive Prison

Pete talked about his experience in the prison system, including being allocated to work in the library during his sentence. Shared key stats including: 80% of prisoners are from the top 5% more impoverished areas. Two thirds of prisoners have a reading age of less than 11, two thirds have mental health issues and two thirds have issues with addiction. Each year 250,000 people have a court report written about them. The prison population remains about steady with approx 19,000 in and out each year. He explained how libraries are the “opportunity to take something forward”, emphasising that they are linked to communication as a whole. The average middle-class household will use around 32,000 words per day, whereas a family with two children and one parent with an addiction is likely to use around 600. “That’s a lot of missing words by the time they grow up”. He ended with “libraries are vital, simple as.”

Further discussion points and key quotations

– importance of recognising that it’s not patronising to teach reading or stories to adults

– discussion of important of libraries to people once released from prison – JP pointed out we could connect the dots.

– JP: Explained that something is being lost in communication, for example many people surveyed said they wanted to be able to reserve books online, which they already can. Also: think about the ‘why’ of libraries when spreading the message, and recognise it’s not a universal message.

– PW: Libraries could “step sideways from tradition” and become more fearless, with more involvement from young people. Can be intimidating to some people.

– JD: Libraries as a physical place v. important – vital role as a community centre.

– JP: “Libraries are the last free, safe, civic space we have.”

– Discussion of the social return on investment, e.g. training volunteers, which means they’re seen as people with the ability to contribute. Importance of quantifying long-term value and preventative spend, e.g. libraries save the NHS millions each year.

– Questions raised about who do we expect to invest in libraries? (US model of philanthropy mentioned). How can they generate money? How to change the social mindset about libraries?

Describe your dream library!

DC: Birmingham! But with all local services still intact.

JD: I love the variety, and how each one is so different.

JP: A library which is immediately welcoming and full of people

PW: Wee free libraries, available to all.

Points from audience discussion

  • Pamela Tulloch (CEO of Scottish Library and Information Council) pointed out that the situation in Scotland is not as dire as often portrayed: new libraries are opening around the country, and it’s important to celebrate the positives.
  • importance of communicating with your local library about what you want
  • use your library, and encourage others, to help the stats.
  • celebrate the diversity of library users, without judgment
  • make sure communicate the contemporary offer to those who don’t value their libraries.

Notes courtesy of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust.




September 6, 2017

A Manifesto for Libraries

cilips logo

Literature Alliance Scotland (LAS) strongly supports the ‘Manifesto for Libraries’ produced by the Chartered Institute of Library Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS), setting out what it believes the next Scottish Government should do to support libraries.

The Manifesto has been produced as part of the ‘Scotland’s Libraries: Inspiration for the Nation’ campaign supported by a number of national organisations and high profile authors.

The Manifesto asks candidates, if they are elected, to –

  1.  Support and call for the full implementation of the National Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland, agreed last year with the Scottish Government and COSLA including:

– Taking forward a national reading strategy with libraries at its heart

– Rolling out and sustaining the every child a library member project

– Providing high-speed wifi in all community libraries

– Rolling out a national digital skills programme with shared resources

– Developing local, regional and national partnerships to support employability

2.   Work to ensure that all learners in school and further education have on site access to full-time professional library staff.

3.   Support development of a new national strategy for school libraries which recognises their vital role in supporting pupils’ literacy and research skills.

4.   Work closely with Local Government to ensure that all libraries are fully supported.


April 1, 2016
A Manifesto for Libraries

LAS Statement for CILIPS Manifesto on Libraries 2016


Literature Alliance Scotland has contributed the following statement to the Manifesto for Libraries, which is being drawn together by the Chartered Institute of Library Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS) in advance of the Scottish Parliament Election in May 2016.

‘Literature Alliance Scotland firmly believes that libraries and librarians offer the most democratic means of providing citizens with access to knowledge, and that one of libraries’ most essential roles is acting as the nexus between writers and the public, placing literature at the heart of every community, accessible to every citizen.  Publishers perform an essential role in this process. Literature Alliance Scotland strongly wishes to see Scottish books in all of Scotland’s languages acquired consistently by public and school libraries across the country, so that people have access to the best of their national literature at all stages of life.  We believe that this is an opportune time for a fresh consideration of how this can be accomplished because of the coincidence of the recent Creative Scotland literature review, the recent national strategy for public libraries in Scotland and the development of, for example, Scottish Studies within the national Curriculum for Excellence.’

February 29, 2016
LAS Statement for CILIPS Manifesto on Libraries 2016

LAS Letter to Fife Council on Proposed Library Closures

This letter has been sent by Literature Alliance Scotland members to the Leader of Fife Council in connection with the proposed library closures in Fife, now out to local consultation.

Letter of 31 August 2015 to Councillor David Ross, Leader of Fife Council, and copied to Mr Steve Grimmond, Chief Executive of Fife Council.

Dear Councillor Ross

The Fife Council:  Fife Libraries

We are writing on behalf of the members of Literature Alliance Scotland about the proposed closure of sixteen libraries in Fife.  Literature Alliance Scotland, which represents the literature organisations in Scotland, is a strong advocate of public libraries because they are so crucial in providing access to literature, encouraging reading, assisting literacy and improving people’s chances in life.

We very much welcome your decision to hold a consultation with communities in Fife in order to listen to local views, and we are pleased that you have allowed a substantial period of time up to 6 November 2015 for this consultation to take place.

Libraries in Fife have built a strong reputation for serving their communities.  Indeed, nationally and internationally, Fife, as the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie, is synonymous with public libraries. We do understand that the Council is under pressure to make financial savings, and that there are difficult decisions to be taken.  We should like to support you in listening to local people’s views about their public libraries and to lend our voice in encouraging you to maintain a strong viable network of libraries in local communities, so that people who live in Fife can always have a library close at hand to which it is easy for them to travel and to use.

Public libraries provide meeting places where people have access to culture, knowledge and the chance to learn. In weighing your decisions, we invite you to consider the way in which successful countries (the Nordic countries and The Netherlands, for example) are currently actively strengthening and building upon their existing networks of public libraries. They see them as the principal way for their societies to provide local democratic access to knowledge and culture in the digital age.  Libraries provide equal opportunities for everyone, and everyone in our society has a right to choose their own path.

Scotland has long been known for its strong support for public libraries and school libraries, and for the public’s regard for the excellent network of libraries that has already been created for all of us who live here. Despite the financial pressures at this point, we believe that it is crucial that we should try to preserve the best of what has been cultivated over many generations and combine this with the tools of the digital age.  Involving local people and communities in participating with the Council in making decisions about their own libraries is the best way to ensure that libraries can continue to serve people’s present and future needs.

Yours sincerely

Dr Ann Matheson (Chairman)                   Dr Robyn Marsack (Vice-Chairman)




Membership at August 2015

  • Association for Scottish Literary Studies
  • Association of Scottish Literary Agents
  • CILIPS (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland)
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival
  • Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust
  • The Gaelic Books Council
  • Moniack Mhor
  • National Library of Scotland
  • Playwrights’ Studio Scotland
  • Publishing Scotland
  • The Saltire Society
  • Scots Language Centre
  • Scottish Book Trust
  • Scottish Language Dictionaries
  • SLIC (Scottish Libraries and Information Council)
  • SLAM (Scottish Literary and Arts Magazines)
  • Scottish Society of Playwrights
  • Scottish PEN
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • Scottish Storytelling Forum
  • Scottish Writers Centre
  • Society of Authors in Scotland
  • Universities Committee for Scottish Literature
  • Wigtown Festival Company
  • Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (Scottish Region)


August 31, 2015
LAS Letter to Fife Council on Proposed Library Closures