A new partnership between Heriot Watt University and West Lothian Council will highlight the importance of listening to the community, and bringing research to those impacted by it.
The council has won a £25,000 grant from the highly competitive Engaging Libraries Programme.
The new initiative aims to engage West Lothian communities by providing a series of opportunities for researchers to listen to local people – with a specific emphasis on teenagers.
Through this research, a programme of activities will be designed, working with local schools as well as a Youth Advisory Group.
Topics explored will comprise of human-robot interactions, health technologies and healthy cities.
Almost half of all UK library services applied to the Engaging Libraries programme, which is run by The Carnegie UK Trust, Wellcome and the Wolfson Foundation.
It brings vital research projects at universities into the heart of local communities, using libraries to encourage and share learning.
Executive councillor for culture and leisure, Dave King said: “The council is delighted to have been awarded funding from the Carnegie UK Trust.
“West Lothian’s Libraries are currently working to reduce inequalities, increase a sense of health and wellbeing in the community, reduce social isolation, improve mental health and to contribute to an increase in community confidence.
“The key theme of the project is about listening to what our communities need and we want to create a real sense that libraries are hubs for exchanging ideas.”
Sarah Davidson, CEO of the Carnegie UK Trust said: “Engaging Libraries is all about giving people the opportunity to access, use and respond to research. Libraries have a unique position as trusted, safe spaces at the heart of our communities, and this programme is designed to help people explore new ideas and even play a role in influencing research.
“The process will also give university researchers a great opportunity to make connections between their ideas, research findings and the knowledge and experiences of local communities. We are really looking forward to working with all the winning projects.”
Simon Chaplin, director of culture and society, Wellcome said: “We are delighted to be supporting a second phase of Engaging Libraries with the Wolfson Foundation and Carnegie UK Trust. We saw a strong demand from the library sector in how they could connect together people’s ideas and interests to research, we hope that this helps stimulate new partnerships and ideas and changes the way libraries can develop their social innovation role.”
Paul Ramsbottom, chief executive of the Wolfson Foundation said “We are delighted to be working in such fruitful partnership with Carnegie and Wellcome. These are important and intriguing projects, with a wonderful regional spread and tackling some complex, challenging, crucial issues for society. We also hope that these projects will act as exemplars for how public libraries and research institutions can work together.”
The 14 projects selected to be part of Engaging Libraries will undertake a development period of up to six months, supported by the Engaging Libraries team and a bespoke programme of events and workshops to further develop and refine their project ideas before launching their activities.