26 November, 2007

New federal government and public libraries

The election of the Rudd Labor Government will impact on public libraries in a number of ways.

There are over 1700 public libraries in Australia. While the Commonwealth government does not directly fund public libraries except the National Library of Australia, all Australians are provided with information through cooperative relationships between public, state and national libraries. There are 12 million registered users of these libraries, with 100 million visits to libraries each year. There are more public libraries than McDonalds restaurants.

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) asked the two major parties a number of questions prior to the election. The ALP responded to the question "What is your party's commitment to supporting Australians access to information through libraries, particularly public libraries?" by saying

Labor's platform indicates our belief that Commonwealth, State, Territory and local governments should end the blame game and cooperate to ensure that regional and local libraries can provide effective and equitable access to literature and information, including through modern technology.
At a time when media and information technology is undergoing a process of major change, driven by digitisation, convergence of technology and the globalisation of broadcasting, communications and information technologies, Labor remains strongly committed to longstanding national and public interest objectives, including:

genuine diversity of sources of information, opinion, education and entertainment;
greater choice and accessibility for consumers; and
the development of, and equitable access to, new technologies

The way that people are accessing information and using the internet is changing fundamentally and Mr Rudd's commitment to commencing the work on building 21st-century infrastructure including high-speed broadband is welcome. As more and more people look to download content and move to streaming video we need this fundamental building block in place. Broadband needs to be like electricity, taken for granted.

Another area that will be impacted is internet censorship. Labor's ISP filtering policy will require Internet Service Providers to block access to websites that are listed by ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) as containing prohibited content such as child pornography, acts of extreme violence and X-rated material. ISP filtering under a Rudd Labor government will be applied to all households (unless they choose to opt-out), schools and public internet points accessible by children, such as libraries.

Ensuring free public access to government information, particularly government publications and e-government services is another area that is impacted by federal government policy. We welcome the commitment to making government documents more accessible online.

As ALIA has pointed out, public libraries in Australia have faced significant reductions in resources with the decrease of revenue during the drought and the pressure of growing costs. They are a vital community resources supporting developments in human capital that will complement work on broadband to truly provide a more successful, literate and informed nation. We need to continue to advocate for federal support for public libraries.

Do you have views on any of the above? Please feel free to let us know what you think.

19 November, 2007

Web 2.0 and the library

Web 2.0 is a new way of using available and emerging technology to connect people. It makes online interactions personal, participative and interactive. One example is this blog, and the other blogs that Yarra Plenty has, for genealogy, local history and reading. Our reading blog offers staff reviews on new books, and the genealogy and local history blogs have a wealth of information on resources in the library and activities and programs in our area.

The library is working on several projects that will be ready in the new year. One of these is our Yarrabook wiki, which will provide news and views on reading, highlight new books and enable people to add their own reviews. Another is Wikinorthia, which aims to capture the history of people, places and events in the north of Melbourne - how we live now and how we lived in the past. The third thing we are doing is setting up a Facebook account to build personal connections with people and enable them to search the catalogue straight from Facebook.

Next year we will be offering more training and classes for people who want to learn more about this new way of interacting online. We will also be holding workshops to add content to Wikinorthia so that the history of people and places is captured and available.

LibraryThing is now the second biggest library in the world! It is a library of books that people have in their own homes. It allows you to catalogue your books, share them with other people, and tag them with subjects. We have integrated LibraryThing in our catalogue, so that when you are looking at an item record you will see all the tags that people have given that book and also books like it. You can then just click on those titles or tags to navigate around the catalogue! It really is quite addictive and opens up lots of possibilities of books you might not have known about before.

If you have any ideas on how you would like to see the library using these new technologies please add your comments. We'd love to hear from you.

13 November, 2007

Collection Development Policy

The Library's Collection Development Policy is now available in draft for comment and feedback from our borrowers and community. We encourage you to reply via this blog or email (to ceo@yprl.vic.gov.au) on any aspects of our collection.

The aim of the Collection Development Policy is to articulate the principles that are used in building and maintaining the library collection. While the principles of such policies are enduring, it is necessary to revisit the CDP to ensure that it remains relevant, especially given the big changes that are occurring in people's information seeking behaviours. Where once children came regularly to the library to get materials for their school projects, now they go online and access databases, online encyclopedias and other digital information.

There are four principles of selection that the policy is based on:
  1. We will purchase items that our borrowers want
  2. We will provide a collection which reflects the spectrum of community view points
  3. Parents and caregivers are responsible for their children’s use of the library
  4. We provide informational, recreational and cultural materials in the media of the day

Last year the library adopted a Strategic Asset Plan for the collection, and these two documents form the basis of our collecting and disposal of library materials. The CDP will be presented to the Library Board at the February meeting to be adopted, so we request your feedback by January 31st.

05 November, 2007

From the CEO - new blog direction

from Christine Mackenzie...

Some of you may have read the article in the Heidelberg and Diamond Valley Times a few weeks ago - the one with the belly dancer on the front - that talked about how our libraries are changing. One of the things that we would like to do at Yarra Plenty is have a dialogue with our users, and so we are opening up the blog to be more of a discussion point and less of a "what's on" type communication.

So please feel free to comment on any posts - we'd love to hear from you.

The main task in the libraries for the next 2 - 3 months is completing the tagging of all our collections with RFID (radio frequency identification) tags. This will allow people to easily check out their own materials, freeing up staff to run more events and programs in the library and offering you a quicker service in checking out materials. Each branch will have 3 self check units and there will always be a staff member on hand to help anyone who needs it. The first site to go live with the new system is Rosanna at the end of November.

Are you watching "The Librarians" on ABC on Wednesday nights? Of course we all are, with baited breath, and some trepidations! We thought the first episode had some very insightful moments and has avoided the worst of the stereotypes. If you missed it you can watch it online
In the next week we will be posting our new Collection Development Policy for comment. This document is a guide to what we do and don't add to the collection. We will look forward to your feedback.