Friday, 29 April 2011

Print disabled library customers get tangible Federal Government support

The Federal Government has recently made $1M available to public libraries to support Australians with a print disability.  This Increasing Access Library Initiative is being managed by the Federal Department FaHCSIA  with ALIA contracted to manage the allocation process – see

This Initiative will see 845 audio readers specifically designed for people with a print disability provided to over 500 public libraries throughout Australia.  For some libraries this will be their first use of such technology, while for others it will provide a welcome boost to their existing service.

While a number of SA public libraries put in individual submissions for readers, Public Library Services also put in a consortium submission to on behalf of the network.  Through this process 132 devices have been allocated to PLS for distribution throughout South Australia.  At PLS Veronica and Teresa have been managing the expressions of interest prociess and have almost finalized the allocation of devices to libraries.  28 libraries will receive devices in the near future.

We are also working with ALIA and the two providers of readers to arrange any training that may be required and to provide access to content.  It is anticipated that the State-wide Digital Content project will also provide access to content for users of these readers.

PLS looks forward to providing the readers to libraries and brokering any initial support that libraries may require. 

Behind the physical benefits these readers will make to the lives of people in a range of communities is an interesting development.  For a number of years various library agencies have attempted to engage with the Federal Government regarding the important role that the nation’s 1,500+ public libraries play in the lives of millions of Australians.  This campaign has usually been met with polite and sincere appreciation for what we do, but no tangible recognition of the role that libraries play.  So it is heartening to see public libraries being seen and utilised as delivery partners for the Federal Government for this project.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The power of the network

Even though I have worked as part of our network for several decades I'm still amazed at the amount energy, goodwill, commitment and skill that we have access to!! And I am doubly enthused to be surrounded by so many library staff willing to contribute to this next revolution in our network.
The last week or so has seen considerable activity by many from a range of libraries across the network & I want to recognise them and thank them in anticipation of their contribution to this project in coming months.
Over the last week more than 65 people attended one of 7 Subject Matter Expert (SME) Group briefings at PLS.  The SMEs are part of the LMS assessment team.  They will provide specific feedback about the performance of particular parts of the various Library Management Systems we will be evaluating.  SME members are currently developing scenarios which will assist vendors to demonstrate system functionality in a coherent manner. Thanks to all of you who are working to deliver these scenarios this month.
Following a vendor briefing session on 1 April vendors have provided additional questions, seeking clarification about the requirements in their response.  As some of the questions were quite technical a couple of the SMEs have provided input into the answers that have been provided.  Thanks to those of you who responded so quickly to our requests for advice.
The inaugural meeting of the Interim LMS User Group meeting occurred today, with a very keen group beginning to map all the points where one library’s practice intersects with others & where we need to reach agreement to ensure great outcomes for customers.  Members of the group were set some homework before the meeting, to collect and review all of the rules in their own libraries & consider how these may need to be reviewed to match the need of a consortium.  Again - thanks to all those in this group for their attention to this important part of the process.
The opportunity for companies to respond to the Request For Proposal closes next Monday (the 18th).  Following a check that the responses meet the minimum requirements to be considered, the responses will be distributed to members of the Evaluation Team who meet again on 20 April.  I know what I will be doing for much of Easter – ploughing through the responses!!
And the Wide Area Network (WAN) group will meet on the 18th as well.  This group of technical experts will be undertaking a review to ensure that the PLS WAN will be capable of effectively delivering the LMS to the far flung corners of the State. 
So, its all go for the project!!
And once again, if anyone has any questions or comments please comment here.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Interim LMS User Group

Six weeks or so ago I called for volunteers to contribute to another part of the LMS project - looking at the processes that will need to be in place to ensure certainty and minimal friction in the intereactions between libraries and between libraries and their customers.

A range of library staff with diverse experiences in multi-branch libraries, in consortia and in joint use libraries have all volunteered to participate in this project.

The group has three jobs:
  1. Identify all of the places where system-wide roles or policies will need to be developed to ensure the smooth operation of the network.
  2. Identify what the various practices are in SA public libraries today which need to be taken into account when framing new operational policies and practices.
  3. Look at a range of consortia to see how they have resolved some of the issues we will face, to see whether we can learn from some of these experiences.
The fundamental principles which will govern the work of the group are:
  1. As per the longstanding intent of the SA public library network, where possible we want to make sure that barriers to access to information for customers will be as low as possible while maintaining reasonable expectations on customers.
  2. Each library should retain as much local autonomy as possible so long as it does not negatively impact on other libraries or customers.
The interim user group will hold its 1st meeting on 12 April.  I would like to thank Bill Roche for agreeing to chair the group, as well as all others who have volunteered to contribute their time and expertise to the project.

This group will not make any decisions about the future shape of policies etc. However they will be laying the groundwork for the first established User Group which will need to begin to develop a set of recommended policies to govern inter-library cooperation. These recommendations will be subject to broad discussion and consultation.

If you wish to contribute ideas to the operations of libraries in the new environment please feel free to add a comment here on the blog or communicate these to Jo Freeman at PLS, who is executive officer to this group. Jo can be contacted at

Learning by doing

Well they say that much of the web & particularly social media is perpetually beta - i.e. always being tinkered with to improve it & never quite being finished.  And my blogging experience is one such adventure.

This Blog went live on 28 March without me clicking all of the tabs or reading all of the instructions - but hey - it worked (well sort of).  Since then I've gone back & worked out that to allow anyone to comment (& not just registered "followers") I had to uncheck one of the options in the settings.  And if I wanted people to be registered so that they would be automatically notified of a new post I had to add a gadget to the page.

So - I have unchecked the option to limit who can have a say - everyone can now - so feel free.  And I have added a box which allows you to register to receive an update whenever new posts appear. Below the box on the right with all the followers, you can submit your email address & go through a simple registration process & then you will get automatic updates whenever the blog is updated.

This has been an interesting "jump in the deep end" experience for me.  However PLS staff have pointed me to work that they have been doing on Moodle (an online learning and tutorial system) which includes lots of interesting info about using social media and document sharing cloud sites etc.  I will post more about that later.

Enough on the learning stuff.  I will start a new post on the Interim User Group & what they are about to embark on.