Fife library team expands online archive
Susan Birne, is the local studies supervisor for the local and family history room at Kirkcaldy Galleries and a cultural services assistant.
During lockdown she’s been co-ordinating the Bookbug sessions and story times for the Kirkcaldy Galleries Facebook Page, and in her local studies role, she’s been part of a project to digitise the ONFife Archives collection of photographs so they will be more accessible to the public.
She explained: “Lockdown provided the unique opportunity of time to really focus on this.
“It will be a terrific resource for people to explore the collection when we are able to welcome them back to Kirkcaldy Galleries.
“The ONFife Archives team has scanned hundreds of images at home, you might have seen some of our favourite discoveries on the ONFife Archives Facebook page – there are some fantastic pictures that we can’t resist sharing.
“The team has been creating lots of interactive content to take part in on Facebook - a weekly historical quiz, digital jigsaws and crosswords, reviews of some amazing books from the collection and website reviews to help people with their local or family history research online until we can help them in person again.
“There is a very strong sense of team at Kirkcaldy Galleries, more so than ever during the Coronavirus pandemic, everyone has helped each other to adapt.
“Our roles are very customer focussed and all about interacting with members of the public so to begin with it felt very strange indeed.
“We all wanted to reach out to our customers and let them know that they are not alone and we are still here for them.
“I am overwhelmed with how quickly everyone has adapted to the new ways of working and learned to use whatever limited devices they have at home to make videos and access systems.
“Most of the team would be quite shy of being on camera but they have overcome that shyness because they want their Bookbug families to see they are still here for them.
“People like to see familiar faces and hear local voices, it has been important to us to reach out in this way.
“The Kirkcaldy Galleries page has lots of content for different ages and interests, made by our team members and shared from pages in the ONFife family, such as LibrarYAY.
“There are features exploring the artworks in our galleries, book recommendations, poetry readings, videos of walking through the woods and recordings of birds singing for people who maybe can’t get outside themselves at the moment.
“Lots of lovely things to bring a smile and help people feel less alone.”
The community has really been embracing the work that’s been done.
“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, our Bookbug videos have so far amounted to 650 hours of viewing for local families at home,” Susan said.
“Repeat views of certain videos, weeks after they were first posted lets you know that a session is really connecting so we are using the most popular sessions to guide us in what to focus on for the future.
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“Kirkcaldy Galleries has used its Facebook page for a number of years now to let local people in the community know about events and activities we have going on for them so using the platform to provide activities like Bookbug felt like quite a natural thing to do when lockdown began.
“The response from families was instantly positive which gave us the courage to do more.”
Susan is also keen for the online content to continue in future.
She said: “Even once our doors are open to the public again it will be a long time before restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus allow us to run events and activities on the scale we did before.
“Now we know that we ‘can’ and we know it meets a need – there will always be people in our community who are not able to get to a Bookbug session at the library with their little ones, for lots of reasons, and if we can help with online sessions then that’s great.”