The National Library of Scotland

Read more about the positive impact that we’re having across the public sector through our success story with The National Library of Scotland.



The National Library of Scotland engaged with the Scottish Digital Academy (SDA) following ongoing challenges they were facing around the management of their digital projects. They were experiencing substantial delays to their project delivery whilst using the standard waterfall method, where work was being passed between departments and collaboration was limited. At the time, The National Library of Scotland were working in functional teams so the ability to collaborate and innovate together was hampered by a lack of knowledge of other roles. This meant that carrying out user research on our products and services was done at the end of the development process, which made it difficult to retrospectively iterate to meet users’ needs.



After reading Jeff Sutherland’s Scrum book and studying Government Digital Service’s (GDS) service standard to learn about agile for public services, we contacted the SDA to arrange training for our project team and senior leaders as we weren’t yet clear on how to start applying agile. Following this, the SDA delivered a programme of post-course consultancy which was excellent and helped contextualise what we’d been learning so far. Over two days, the SDA Agile Coach trained our project team in the theory of agile and scrum and then we jumped right in to practising and applying scrum to our project with guidance and support from the coach.



“By working in a cross-functional, collaborative, supported and focussed way, our team came to have a common understanding of the issues we faced, and collectively developed solutions. We trusted each other, appreciated our different points of view and areas of expertise. We became brave and confident and having learned techniques for making continuous improvement and adaptation, we were no longer afraid of failure. Engaging with users throughout our project gave us insights into to how to develop a service that was relevant and useful from the outset. This was perhaps the most extraordinary lesson for us and the transparency and visibility of our work was a highlight, as our colleagues could actually see what we were doing and the progress we were making. Normally it is not clear in a project. As well as the coaching in scrum, the SDA coach was able to teach us other methodologies, approaches and tools that we could use when designing services. This was an added bonus and really helped us too.”

Gill Hamilton, Digital Access Manager


“From our training and coaching we have decided that agile is a useful project management practice and we are actively adopting it. We plan to use an agile approach in the development of a key business systems to manage The National Library of Scotland’s digital assets, and a [digital] media centre. New job roles are being created within The National Library of Scotland to support agile ways of working, and through the training from the Scottish Digital Academy, the need for these roles is understood by the leadership team.”

Stuart Lewis, Associate Director of Digital


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