Library based walking groups in Scotland: exploring benefits, challenges, and opportunities

Inga Allan, Perla Innocenti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Public libraries support a range of health and wellbeing activities, however little research has been done into the provision of library adult walking groups. This paper reports on a unique study exploring how widely adult walking groups are provided through Scottish public libraries, as well as library staff perceptions of the benefits, challenges and opportunities of these services. A rich qualitative research approach was used, involving Freedom of Information requests to the 32 Scottish local authority regions, an online questionnaire with 106 complete responses, and 8 follow-up interviews with Scottish public library staff, with and without walking group experience. Thematic analysis was used to identify key themes from collected data. Results show that adult walking groups are not widely provided through Scottish public libraries. However, respondents identified benefits for user groups, including but not limited to: improvements to participants’ health and social wellbeing; and increased engagement with library services. A range of opportunities for public libraries were highlighted, including staff interest, partnership working and a current focus on health and wellbeing. Challenges encompass resource restrictions, variations in partnership working and lack of effective networking. This original study provides valuable insights into the provision of public library walking groups in Scotland. It suggests that many factors can potentially influence the success of this library health and wellbeing service, with a range of different possible approaches. Results indicate that successful provision of a public library walking group may require close partnership working; adequate networking and information-sharing between public library staff; as well as sufficient resources; and staff interest. This exploratory study provides transferable insights and a basis for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Librarianship and Information Science
Early online date14 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Feb 2023


  • public libraries
  • walking groups
  • Scotland
  • UK
  • health and wellbeing
  • adults
  • partnerships


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