Le Cheile / Together
Leabharlannan nan Eilean Siar/ Western Isles Library Service

“We have far more contacts, far more widely in the community than we ever used to. Now I have named contacts across different associations all over the Western Isles. It’s been significant, really significant.”
Kathleen Milne, Western Isles Libraries
Staff member
Credit: Illustration by Alice MacMillan
Illustration by Alice MacMillan / http://www.alicemacprints.co.uk

This project aimed to connect with communities in a meaningful way and give them a voice to express their feelings and hopes for the future through social dreaming. The focus of engagement was the importance of local place, culture, creativity and community in a rural and remote area.

Higher Education Engagement

The library service worked with Lewis Hou of Science Ceilidh and Sarah-Anne Munoz, Professor for the Rural Health Centre of the University of Highlands and Islands (UHI). Prof Munoz also connected the library service with researchers, who took part in the project podcasts.

Researchers involved in the project have realised how effective it can be to work with libraries, and have already planned some further discussions. The library service learned how many researchers are conducting research into rural communities which could be further opportunities for collaboration.


The mobile library was the primary delivery vehicle for the project, to identify the impact and importance of the service. Five different postcards were created, each reflecting on a different theme, and were distributed to members of the community via branch and mobile libraries, community shops, care homes and other organisations. Five podcasts were produced; each podcast reflecting a theme of the postcards, and bringing members of the community and a researcher together for a conversation. At the end of the project there was a series of celebratory Le Chèile Ceilidhs, where a number of local young musicians took part.

A local artist, Alice Macmillan, designed the postcard images. Fiona Rennie of Sradag Creative assisted with, edited and produced the podcasts. The library service worked with Alzheimer Scotland, Bùth Bharraigh, Cothrom and a number of care homes to distribute the postcards.

Public Impact

The project has significantly raised the library service’s profile in the community and helped the public to understand that libraries are involved with other areas and activities.

Prof Munoz will collate research undertaken for an official report, and the library service will write a more informal response and overview of the project. These will be shared with council members, community planning colleagues and online.

Impact on Library Staff

The library service’s work with local partners was strengthened through the interaction. Staff have used skills developed through this project in their other work. They have learnt more about public engagement and developed a more active approach with communities.

Key facts

Engagement type
Face-to-face in library
Face-to-face in other settings
1-to-1 interactions
Creative activities
Self-directed activities
Universal Offer
Culture and Creativity
Science Ceilidh
Rural Health Centre of the University of Highlands and Islands (UHI)
Alice MacMillan (Artist)
Sradag Creative

Further Information