What is civic literacy?
The Library helps improve people’s civic literacy by using our collections to teach people about politics and their place in Scottish society. We also play an important part in helping people in Scotland tackle challenging topics such as fake news and misinformation.
Scotland is an increasingly diverse society. It is a nation where the democratic process, either through elections, local power, or referendums, is of fundamental importance. Civic literacy is knowing how to navigate these processes and how to participate in civic life. This can include knowing how to vote for the first time, or how to safely participate in activism work.
As part of this role, the Library works on these issues through partnerships, projects, and research collaborations with other organisations.
The civic literacy work is led by one of our curators. It is currently focused on boosting young people’s political awareness.
These projects include:
- Supporting the Scottish Youth Parliament’s The Right Way project. This works to educate policymakers on the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament made a display of collection items relating to the rights of young people in Scotland, which featured in our George IV Bridge building in March 2023.
- Contributing to Young Scot’s digital campaign for Global Misinformation Awareness Week, which aims to help young people identify fake news and misinformation. Staff supplied social media content and a blog post introducing the Library to younger readers who may not have used our services before.
- The Library has also joined the Young Scot Rewards scheme. In this young people can earn points for visiting heritage sites around Scotland, which can be exchanged for prizes.
- Hosting a range of students on visits and placements, including the parliamentary interns from the John Smith Centre for Policy Studies, and the University of Edinburgh Insights programme.
- In addition, the Library has provided training on official publications to organisations including the Scottish Government’s Evidence in Policy fortnight. This promoted our significant online official publications resources to these stakeholders.
Scottish independence referendum
The 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum Collection at the National Library of Scotland is a unique and valuable resource. It is intended to be unbiased, representative and inclusive of the varied and often complex angles surrounding the Scottish independence debate.
This collection was developed through a two-year project at the National Library of Scotland. The project, which ran from 2014 to 2016, collected and catalogued referendum material. It aimed to make the information as accessible as possible.
The referendum collection includes:
- ephemeral material such as flyers, leaflets;
- moving image;
- sound and archival material.
EU referendum (Brexit)
We have collected an unbiased and inclusive representation of items produced as part of the United Kingdom's 2016 EU referendum and as part of Brexit. Collection began before the 23 June 2016 referendum, and the collection continues to grow.
Our collections are rich in this area, not least because of our official publications content, which includes the publications of EU bodies. We also have vast collections of publications about Europe and topics around international relations.
In Library Search you can find records for EU and referendum-related publications, as well as via our eResources.
For more information, you can get in touch with our Government and Civic Literacy curator through our online enquiry form.