The future of Scotland’s libraries

Navigating challenges and charting futures in Scotland’s libraries.

The library sector in Scotland plays an essential role in improving literacy and attainment, providing access for all, increasing social inclusion and wellbeing, and reducing the digital divide. Our libraries of all kinds remain well-used and popular.

As well as that, they are being asked to deal with challenges such as the cost-of-living crisis, book-banning requests, misinformation, the need for climate emergency awareness and more, and all of this in the face of growing budget challenges.

Join us for a panel discussion surrounding the current impact of Scotland’s libraries and what role the panellists see them playing in the future.

About RSE investigates…

Every year, the Royal Society of Edinburgh explores a key topic through its ‘RSE investigates’ series, engaging community leaders and experts to tackle pivotal questions. This year, we investigate Scotland’s creative industries, examining their role as a catalyst for change and how they help to address contemporary challenges. As Scotland’s National Academy, we celebrate interdisciplinary expertise that fosters innovation across sectors like art, literature, technology, academia, and culture. This year’s series highlights the importance of supporting libraries, celebrating literary traditions, understanding architecture’s role in identity, and exploring Scotland’s impact on countercultural creativity.

See the full programme


A close up of James Robertson


Dr James Robertson FRSE


Dr James Robertson is a novelist, poet, editor and translator. He studied history at the Universities of Edinburgh and Pennsylvania and worked as a bookseller before becoming a full-time writer. His novels include The Testament of Gideon Mack, And the Land Lay Still, Joseph Knight and News of the Dead. In 2002 he co-founded Itchy Coo, an imprint dedicated to publishing book in Scots for young readers. He holds honorary degrees at the Open University and Stirling and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
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Amina Shah FRSE

National Librarian and Chief Executive, National Library of Scotland

Amina Shah, FRSE, is the National Librarian and Chief Executive of the National Library of Scotland. She has more than 25 years of experience across the cultural sector in Scotland. She was a previous CEO of the Scottish Library and Information Council, Director of Programme at the Scottish Book Trust and President of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland. She is a Lay Member of the Court at the University of Dundee, a Visiting Professor at Robert Gordon University and Chair of the Legal Deposit Libraries Group in the UK and Ireland. Amina has a strong interest in the role libraries, education, literature, and culture play in empowering individuals and communities and how organisations can work collaboratively and creatively to maximise their impact and reach.
A man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera


Sean McNamara

Head of Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

Sean is the Chief Executive of the professional body for library and information workers in Scotland. He leads a team that supports the profession via professional development, advocacy work and more. Sean previously worked in public libraries in Inverclyde.
A person posing for the camera


Éadaoín Lynch

Research & Evaluation Manager, Scottish Book Trust

Éadaoín Lynch is Research and Evaluation Manager and the first port of call for evaluation support in Scottish Book Trust. Currently they are leading on the Scottish Book Trust’s first independent research project, ‘The value and impact of Scotland’s libraries.’ In their spare time, Éadaoín is a writer and freelancer with a background in poetry.
In partnership with


Wednesday April 17th, 2024 18:00-19:00


National Library of Scotland


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