West Lothian Library Service helps local people through pandemic with unique kindness project

West Lothian Library Service successfully supported its local community by delivering a special ‘kindness initiative’ to improve wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report published by The Carnegie UK Trust.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 4:17 pm
Updated Friday, 9th July 2021, 10:18 am
One of the West Lothian Libraries' kindness trees.
One of the West Lothian Libraries' kindness trees.

The initiative at West Lothian Library Service involved installing a kindness tree in each library across the service so that library users could write messages of kindness to others on the leaves. Bookmarks bearing a quote about kindness were also designed to share. The aim was to create visual reminders to take time to reflect on kindness and to facilitate a sense of connection through the kindness tree.

Caroline Fraser, team manager at West Lothian Library Service, said: “All 14 of our libraries displayed kindness trees. The project has been so successful in reaching out to those who have been so isolated during these strange times that we have continued with our kindness initiative. Our isolated customers were so grateful and responded with so many positive comments to staff.”

The project aimed to test whether small-scale ‘kindness initiatives’ delivered by local libraries could help to improve public wellbeing.

Despite Covid-19 restrictions limiting the use of library buildings, the report highlights how libraries were able to adapt and innovate, creating opportunities for people to connect in different ways.

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.”

The key finding from the Carnegie UK Trust initiative is that simple, low-cost interventions can have a real impact on wellbeing for library users, workers and the wider community. The report’s authors recommend that library services across Scotland should support their staff to think creatively about the role they can play in improving their communities.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​