Local News

‘Near Me’ Service at Orkney Library & Archive, Kirkwall

The Orkney Library and Archive in Kirkwall is one of three libraries across Scotland now playing a key role in helping people access public sector services including health and social care across the country.

The ‘NearMe in Libraries’ scheme builds on the existing ‘NearMe’ video consulting service that enables people to attend appointments remotely, wherever is convenient and appropriate. 

The ‘NearMe’ service is already widely used across Scotland for health and social care appointments with around 45,000 consultations being held every month.  It is now being piloted across a range of public service libraries to further enhance accessibility.

If you are not able to use video consulting in your own home then you can at Orkney Library in Kirkwall.

Scottish Library & Information Council (SLIC) Chief Executive, Pamela Tulloch, welcomed the opportunity to further expand the role local libraries play in the community, with full support of the initiative.

“Local libraries provide a safe alternative to home and are ideally positioned to support people at risk of digital exclusion, especially in terms of health and care services. Networked with free public Wi-Fi, users have access to private and confidential spaces, with trained staff available to support with their digital literacy needs,” she added.

“By using public libraries as a venue for ‘Near Me’, clients and patients can access the help they need without having to travel a significant distance from home. Our libraries are free and accessible safe spaces that can provide convenient and confidential online access.”

The move will:

  • Make accessing health and social care services more convenient
  • Make appointments easier to attend (if you usually need someone to take you to appointments)
  • Enable people to have someone with them for support at the appointment (either at the ‘Near Me in Libraries’ setting, or by joining the consultation via video link from another location – even from abroad)
  • Be better for the environment by reducing travel
  • Reduce the risk of spread of infectious diseases
  • Reduce time and cost
  • Reduce time away from work, school or home

The Scottish Government Technology Enabled Team has provided £20,000 of funding for the ‘Near Me in Libraries’ project which has been allocated to 10 libraries to enable them to purchase equipment and make necessary refurbishments and IT updates to provide the service.

The new initiative is not a ‘walk-in’ service, but individuals are able to schedule a ‘Near Me’ appointment, with dedicated space booked in the library.

Dr Ann Wales, Programme Director, Knowledge and Decision Support, Digital Health and Care Innovation Centre, said:

“The ‘Near Me’ initiative is a great example of how libraries are becoming active partners in the delivery of health and care. It shows how libraries are ideally positioned to provide a go-to place for health information and support in their communities and confirms the key role of libraries in addressing digital inequalities.

“This project is the first in a series of pathfinder projects being progressed through the Collective Force for Health and Wellbeing action plan, all focused on libraries empowering citizens and communities to take more control over their health and wellbeing.”

Similar facilities will be available in libraries in Moray and Ayrshire later this month, with other areas including Dumfries & Galloway, The Highlands, Midlothian, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire expected to introduce the service in the coming months.

Rosie Cooper, National Improvement Lead for the ‘Near Me’ programme added:

“Scaling up video consultations is a key national priority as use of video will help to allow greater and more convenient access to both routine appointments and specialist support from anywhere in the country.

“The libraries selected cover a diverse range of settings and population types and will be used to test the feasibility. This will include creating confidential booking systems and establishing communication and partnership with local services.”

The pilot results will set the groundwork to inform further rollout for public libraries across the country to begin delivering ‘Near Me’ access as part of their core services.

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