Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Reviewing our Library Buildings

Today saw the "Connected Community Places" project move from planning and piloting to workshops with library managers.  This project is one of 37 projects in our "Tomorrow's Libraries" strategic plan.  

The consultants ran their first workshop at Mawson Lakes & will repeat the process at Hallett Cove on Thursday, before running workshops in Berri, Naracoorte and Port Pirie in coming weeks.  Today's Mawson Lakes session saw staff from 15 different libraries working through the online data capture template.  While most staff were from metro Adelaide  & northern country councils - we also saw people from as far & wide as Port Lincoln & Waikerie.

The outcome of this project will be that each council will have a report benchmarking their current library buildings against the quasi-national standards for libraries that were developed by the State Library of New South Wales. The report will also provide some comparisons to other libraries, as well as looking at not just "size," but libraries being fit for purpose and effective community space. We'll also be looking at the library location, its furniture etc. 

The other outcome is that the Libraries Board of South Australia will have an aggregated report for all public libraries in the State.  (This project doesn't cover our School Community Libraries - which are joint use facilities based in schools.  Their "joint use" nature, along with them not being owned by local councils means that at this stage they are excluded from assessment.  This may happen at a later stage, using different metrics.)

We expect that this project will provide councils with a good foundation for longer term planning for the future of their libraries - everything to the location and size of new libraries, through to furniture or signage upgrades.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Interesting library "stuff"

A combination of attending the ALIA National conference in Adelaide the week before last, coupled with emails & books that have come across my desk & some travel means that I've seen so much interesting stuff around libraries & want to share some of it.  I am deliberately making this post rich with links so you can follow up anything that is of interest in the quickest possible way.

The ALIA conference was great.  We were treated to a whole range of interesting, stimulating presentations, particularly the keynote addresses from Lorcan Dempsey, chief strategist from OCLC, Barbara Schack from Libraries Without Borders,  Dr Neil Carrington the CEO of Act for Kids, and Kate Torney, the CEO of the State Library of Victoria. It is my understanding that many of the sessions were filmed & will be made available at some stage.  If any of these become available I'd recommend taking a look.

I was fortunate enough to attend the all day Monday workshop before the conference, called Library Stars - where a series of 30 minute vignettes provided glimpses of a whole range of activities across public libraries in Australia. These ranged from exploring new libraries such as Double Bay (that increased its visitation rate by 640% when their new library opened), to engaging, simple science workshops for young people at Corio & how to build change management teams.  I've already made some recommendations to Public Libraries SA about some of these people as speakers for quarterly meetings.

Other interesting information that has come my way of late includes someone just mentioning in passing a program called "Reach out and read".  You may know about this program, but it was new to me. It is an amazing program in the US where the health sector engages in literacy programs.  The best way to explain it is using their own words, "Reach Out and Read's thousands of doctors and nurses promote early literacy and school readiness to young children and their families in all 50 states. Each year, medical providers at the nearly 5,000 Reach Out and Read program sites nationwide distribute 6.5 million books to children and invaluable literacy advice to parents."  They indicate that they reach approximately 4.6M children a year.  They have also provided support and technical assistance to 12 other countries where the program now runs.  And of course the American Library Association is a partner.  Is there the possibility of such a program here?  I think it would be great.  

And then there are the programs in other Australian States that end up in reports - which are all very useful and interesting. The most recent one to catch my eye comes from Queensland, where they've produced a report called, The impact of libraries as creative spaces. As this is something that many libraries are working on some will find the User Guide & Assessment Templates particularly interesting.

In South Australia we've been using the ALIA Standards & Guidelines to help us begin to benchmark our libraries.  While the standards aren't a complete reflection of what libraries do, they're a starting point.  And with this in mind, ALIA is working with APLA and NSLA (sorry - too many acronyms) to review and update the 2012 standards.  There is a draft copy of the new standards & guidelines & most exciting is the addition of a section on Outcome Measures.  For ages we're always said that we need to be measuring more than transactional data & this draft looks like it is the start of that process.  The document outlines a group of six broad possible Outcome Measures:
  1. Literacy & lifelong learning measures 
  2. Informed & connected citizens
  3. Digital inclusion
  4. Personal development & wellbeing
  5. Stronger & more creative communities
  6. Economic & workforce development
As these are new measures it will take the profession some time to develop some standardised ways of measuring them.  However they'll be useful local measures that libraries may want to begin looking at.

I follow a number of interesting people on Twitter, one of whom is Liz McGettigan, a former library manager in Scotland & now director at an interesting company Solus.  Liz regularly posts some interesting info re libraries, literacy & related topics globally.  I just want to pass on the info from a couple of her recent tweets. One was a link to a great article about International Literacy Day (8 September), which contained 10 great quotes about literacy & reading.  I think they would all make great posters placed up in libraries and other locations.  Liz's other tweet was a link to a media release from the Scottish Government about additional funds & focus on their public libraries.  While the money isn't all that much - just under $800K in a country of 5M people, it is interesting to see a few of the projects they're going to fund, including:
  • Ongoing support for an existing "Read Write Count" program
  • A pilot to try out a new single library card
  • The "Every Child a Library Member" program, which kicked off in 2015
I could add to this list, but figure that this is enough to provide a range of  opportunities to explore some interesting projects.  I'll post another list like this as I come across various articles & other sources of interesting "stuff".