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:
- Literacy & lifelong learning measures
- Informed & connected citizens
- Digital inclusion
- Personal development & wellbeing
- Stronger & more creative communities
- Economic & workforce development
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