15 December, 2008

2008 - a good year!

Butterfly wall at Lalor

Christmas and the New Year is a time of reflection on the past year and a time to look forward to new things. The library tends to do this at the end of the financial year when we prepare our Annual Report but I thought it might be interesting to highlight some of the major events for 2008.

The major undertaking was the implementation of our self service system and RFID (Radio frequency identification) which was completed at all branches by February. The self check units have proven popular with borrowers, who like the ease and speed of checkout. The move to self service has freed staff up to offer more services and programs, which have included reading programs for adults and children, internet and web 2.0 training, and arts and cultural programs.
Cultural Diversity week was celebrated in March with highlights that included world music at Eltham, a Vietnamese dragon dance at Lalor and Vlanaga Khoza who brought African rhythms to Ivanhoe.

A beautiful butterfly mosaic was created for Lalor library by the NEAMI group, a provider of community mental health rehabilitation and support services. The design reflects the cultural diversity and inclusion of all people in the Whittlesea community; butterflies were chosen as a symbol of freedom and renewal. This group is currently working on a project for Watsonia library.

Our reading programs continue to grow and we support 51 book clubs in the region. Over 800 children joined in the Summer Reading Program, which encourages kids to keep reading over the summer holidays.

From us all at Yarra Plenty - happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year and this blog will be back in 09!

08 December, 2008

Shanachie tour Downunder

Every so often something new comes along that grabs people's imagination and gets them thinking in different ways. We have just experienced that with the visit by 2 Dutch librarians from Delft.

Shanachies were travelling storytellers who moved from village to village in Ireland in olden times, earning their board and lodging by telling stories. And that is the inspiration for Erik and Jaap, who have travelled around the USA in 2007 and now Australia. They landed in Perth, flew to Brisbane, then picked up their campervan and drove down the Pacific and Princes Highway to Melbourne, visiting libraries, talking to librarians and running workshops. They have videoed their experiences and their adventures are posted on their website. They are recording how libraries are engaging their communities and preparing for the future.

I wrote about the marvellous Delft Public Library - DOK - a few weeks ago, it is an amazing library, some say the most modern public library in the world. The idea of the library as a concept centre, a place where people can try out new things, explore new ideas and have fun - this is the aim of DOK.

Erik and Jaap ran a workshop at the State Library and enthused the audience with the stories they captured - and the story of DOK. It was great to have them here.

24 November, 2008

Customer satisfaction survey

Every year Yarra Plenty, along with other regional libraries in Victoria, commissions a telephone survey of users and non users by Nexus Research. The survey now has been going for a number of years and provides good longitudinal data for our planning and evaluation of library services.

1,800 people were interviewed this year, 300 from Yarra Plenty region. 46% have visited a library over the past year, which is a decline from previous years. 30 - 44 year old females are the highest users of public libraries and males in this age group are also the biggest male adult users. The most common reasons given by people who don't use the library is that they are too busy, that they don't read much and they have no need.

The average importance rating of public libraries on a scale from 1 - 10 was a score of 9.3. This increases to 9.6 amongst those who have visited a public library within the last 12 months and still averages 8.7 amongst those who have never used a public library.

Staff courtesy and helpfulness are rated as the most important aspect of the library, followed by staff knowledge, ease of locating a book or information and range and quality of books.

It is very pleasing that our latest figures on user satisfaction reflect an improvement over the last years with a score of 8.7. Staff courtesy and helpfulness and presentation of the library building rate highest for us. There has been an encouraging increase in satisfaction with the internet, website and computer availability. Events and activities have also shown a good increase in satisfaction levels.

Overall the main area that needs to be improved is the range and quality of AV materials.
If you would like to give your impressions of the library service, please feel free to comment on this blog.

19 November, 2008

Libraries and digital futures

Yesterday I attended a seminar at the National Library of Australia on Broadband, libraries and creating Australia's digital culture, presented by Charles Sturt University, the National Library and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)

The seminar featured a number of very interesting speakers, particularly Prof Trevor Barr from Swinburne University of Technology, who spoke about the National Broadband Tender to be announced by the Federal Government in early 09. He outlined possible outcomes of the tender, which is worth $4.6 billion from the government and a further $5 - 9 billion from the preferred fibre network operator. He spoke about the central issue being what services will be offered on the new broadband and will they justify the return on investment, as there is no white paper that describes how the network will be used and what services it will provide. His view is that Telstra is the likely provider as there is no other entity able to roll out such infrastructure.

Peter Adams from CSU presented the results of a household survey that showed that most people who want broadband already have it and most do not see the need for more bandwidth than they have. My view is that once people have very fast connections they will appreciate the extra services and more applications will be found.

Debbie Campbell from the National Library described some of the initiatives the library is undertaking to create digital cultural resources, and in particular talked about Picture Australia and Libraries Australia, two world class projects that make many resources available to everyone. The NLA is working on a new portal that will bring a number of their projects together and it all sounds very exciting.

Laura Simons is the Executive Officer of Australian Digital Alliance and she spoke about some changes to copyright law - it is now legal to copy a tv show or record a song from the radio for your own use - its taken a while for the law to catch up with consumer practice!!

I spoke about public libraries and digital futures and how despite the increasing role of online information sources, libraries are still being built. I described the Amsterdam and Delft libraries and Library10 and Meetingpoint@Lasipalatsi in Helsinki as examples of where public libraries are heading. I also talked about our Web 2.0 initiatives.

It was an interesting and useful seminar, and provided some good updates on what is happening.

10 November, 2008

Helsinki Libraries

Helsinki is a charming city, it puts me in mind of a small Melbourne, with the green and gold trams, a wide main boulevard reminiscent of St Kilda Rd, and some lovely old buildings. Helsinki was our second stop on the Great Library Tour, and we visited Sello Library, just out of Helsinki, which I wrote about last week. We also visited 2 libraries that belong to Helsinki City - and they look a lot different from our normal concept of what a library is.

Library 10 is a combination of two libraries - a technology/internet library and a music library. The Cable Book Library was the first public internet library in the world, and attracted great attention in the 90s when it was set up. It grew and evolved and in order to meet demand, moved into larger premises with the music library to become Library 10. This library is situated right in the middle of town, in the old Post Office building and is open from 10am to 10pm. It is a place where people create content, meet, listen to music and borrow books. There is a music studio, a radio station, musical instruments for loan, a stage for performances and books, cds and dvds for loan.

Meetingpoint@lasipalatsi is an information desk for internet services and technology – run by the library. It provides courses and information session, employment and recruitment services, workspaces with multimedia workstations, and WiFi. There is even a laptop doctor who will fix your laptop for free.

These 2 libraries are pushing the boundaries in defining what a public library is. They are very popular, they are informing, connecting and learning places highly appreciated by users.

31 October, 2008

Sello Library, Leppävaara District, Finland

My next library in this report back on the Great Public Library Tour of the World is Sello Library, Leppävaara District, Finland.

Espoo is the second largest city of Finland, with a population of approximately 240,000. It is part of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Espoo is the headquarters of Nokia. There are 14 libraries in Espoo; 3 of these libraries are in shopping centres, with a 4th coming 2009 and a 5th in 2010. There are also 2 mobile libraries.

Leppävaara District Library in Sello is the Main Library of the Espoo municipality. It is the busiest library in Helsinki.

Sello is the second largest shopping centre in Scandinavia, and was completed in 2005. There are over 160 shops and covers a total area 97,000 square metres, with 2,500 customer parking spaces. The library is situated adjacent to the shopping centre and pays market rent. The developers encourage libraries in malls, recognising their “civilising impact.”

Vital statistics
Size sqm 5,846 square metres
Population 24,000 (Leppävaara)
Visits 825,000 visits (3,000 – 4,000 per day)
Circulation 1.3 million loans (4,000 per day)
Collection 180,000 books, total collection 225,000
Date opened Opened 11th of August 2003

Financial arrangements
Budget: 3,5 million euros
Rent: 1,5 million € per year
Library service provision is free in Finland.

An interesting offer is to “borrow a librarian” for 45 minutes You can book online to have a librarian help you with your information request.

There are over 100 pcs for customers as well as a computer classroom with 10 pcs. 20 pcs have Microsoft Office, photoshop and other software loaded. There is a meeting room that accommodates 50 people. A reading room with 40 desks provides a quiet area for people who wish to read or study. There are 12 self check units and 2 sorting machines. Espoo was a pioneer in self service in Finland. 2 soundproof music rooms house 2 pianos - 1 of which is a grand piano. These rooms are very popular – with over 650 bookings a year.

The aim of the library is to be a Cultural Department store – the Stockman (large upmarket Swedish department store) of libraries, with everything under the one roof. It is a place where everything happens.

Books and writing
There are a number of partnerships, especially with publishers and bookshops. The library hosts fantasy and creative writing groups for young people. It has also hosted NaNoWrimo, which is an online web 2.0 application that allows different people to write a novel in a month.

There are many multicultural programs held by the library. Regular bilingual storytimes are held in Swedish, Chines and Hindi. Many children are left in the library after school and homework help programs are being developed for them. The library organises multicultural mother and child groups for immigrant women, with storytelling and conversation. The main groups are Russian, Estonian, Vietnamese and Albanian.

Marketing and Promotion
The library goes to the shopping mall to promote itself, to read stories and play music.
One example of a promotional event was the Cuba evening, in partnership with the Friendship Association of Cuba. Finland has a close relationship with a number of countries including Cuba. The aim was to change the perception of what libraries do, and staff performed as the Salsa Sisters. The library also has a lot of promotional material on Youtube.

In partnership with a software company the library runs WelhoNet school for seniors with basic computer, internet and Web 2.0 classes.

Young people
Librarians visit the schools and also run games evenings outside normal opening hours for young people (eg Saturday evening) featuring for example World of Warcraft. There is a games room set up with 2 screens, however this is now closed during school hours as it was more popular than going to school.

The music studio has professional equipment including 2 keyboards, and Logic professional mixing software. It is booked constantly and workshops are booked out 6 months in advance.
Musical evenings are held regularly and studio workshops are conducted to show people how to use the professional software and hardware that is available in the music studio for mixing and editing. Hip hop and rap artists are invited and there is a music teacher on staff.

When we visited the library it was hosting an exhibition for children called Mikko Mallikas for 2 months. The exhibition comprised large installations designed for children to climb on, explore and play. It was very popular, and some children were coming every day to participate. The entrance to the library was designed to host such exhibitions and generally they are aimed at adults. This large space is a real asset for the library.

The biggest point of difference from Australian libraries is the size of the building. It is more than twice the size of Victoria’s largest public library. The rental cost of 1.5 million Euro a year (around $3 million Australian) illustrates the importance that the city places on its public library. It is a busy and attractive space, with very good facilities and a quality fitout. The emphasis on music and culture is also a point of difference with the provision of a fully equipped studio and 2 pianos, one a Steinway Grand. I wish!!

29 October, 2008

100th post - the Delft Library

This is the 100th post on the blog - and it seems a fitting thing that I should devote it to the most amazing library - DOK - the Delft Public Library in the Netherlands.

Service desk, DOK
Delft is a one hour train trip from Amsterdam. The library is in the centre of town, in what was formerly a warehouse. The architecture is of the exposed concrete school, with bright primary colours throughout. There is a dominant staircase leading to the upstairs area where a coffee shop does great business next to the large AV area. The overwhelming feeling is of a bright, vibrant, happening space - and this is supported by a wide variety of programs and services.

Entrance to DOK
The Director of Delft Library, Eppo van Nispen tot Sevenaer, was formerly the CEO of a tv station in the Netherlands. A couple of years ago he wanted to give something back to society and recognised public institutions as very important and libraries as treasures. He has very strong ideas about what libraries can be - and he says that life is about having fun, but most libraries are about not having fun. Their theory is that “life is all about having more fun than you can think of, and it starts at the library." Eppo told us that annually, visitors to public libraries are dropping 6% in the Netherlands, yet librarians seemed unconcerned about this - in any other industry, people would be very worried about losing this market share.
Eppo described the Library Concept Centre as like Ikea where people can test things. They are working with companies and public broadcasters to engage with the users. He says there is nothing more beautiful than a beautiful story; but we must remember its about the story not the media. This was a continuing emphasis during the tour - that it is the "word" or the "story" its not about whether it is a book or a dvd or online. Books are not the future, people are. And books aren't dead, they are going digital. He talked about the added value that libraries can offer - letting people find / try something new.

We heard about the series of philosophy lectures that attracted 250 people. We heard about the summer camp, where library staff take 150 kids aged 6 - 12 away and teach them how to do tv shows; they take their mobile studio, theatre and music. They work closely with schools to encourage more use of the library by young people.
Chair for listening to music

DOK is truly a library of the future, and has been described as the most modern library in the world. There is content everywhere - books, cds, dvds, magazines. There are screens and playstations and chairs where you can listen to music. It is a beautiful story.

20 October, 2008

More on overseas libraries

Amsterdam Public Library (OBA)

The trip is now over and I am back at my desk with my head brimming with ideas! We saw some wonderful libraries on our tour, undoubtedbly some of the world's best.

This time last week we visited Amsterdam Public Library (OBA) in the morning and Delft Public Library (DOK) in the afternoon. I will tell you about OBA today and next week about DOK.

The Amsterdam Central Library (OBA) is a magnificent new library in a prominent position, close to the Central Railway Station in Amsterdam. It is the largest public library in Europe, at 28,000 sq m over 10 floors. It was opened on 7th July 2007 after 10 years of planning and building. The concept of the new library is to transform from a lending library to an adventure library. The architect is Jo Coenen, a well known Dutch architect.

The most impressive feature of the library is its size and the quality of its fitout. It is the highest public point in Amsterdam and many visitors come for the view of the city. The escalators lead the visitor up through the building, ensuring that all levels are visible and easily accessible.

There are 2 eating places, a small café near the magazine area and a restaurant. The restaurant "Du Monde" on the 7th floor has a seating capacity of 250 and also takes care of receptions and corporate catering. It is becoming very popular both with users of the library and visitors. The library has a profit sharing arrangement with the restaurant.

The City of Amsterdam recognises that the library needs to be regularly refurbished and renewed. There is a budget for total renewal in 10 years. The AV area will be renewed in 5 years; it has not been fitted out to the same high standard as the other areas to reflect this.

The Children’s library is a magical place of discovery and adventure. It has small storytelling areas, many comfortable seats for sharing stories, and has a craft room that is permanently set up for children to draw, colour and paste.

A Radio station is located in the library, broadcasting in the afternoon and evening to a city and national audience. People are invited to come and have their say about issues of the day in the open studio. This has given the library a high profile.

There is a grid for IT on all floors of the entire building and a wireless network. There are 600 pcs, many of them Apple Macs. Seating for the pcs is comfortable and stylish – there are a number of different configurations throughout the building. There are 8 lending machines (Lendomats) / self-loan desks; 110 OPACs; 50 workplaces with multimedia facilities; 10 print and Xerox facilities and good facilities for payment. All libraries in the Netherlands have RFID and OBA has a book sorting system that delivers the books to each floor.
The Conservatorium is next door to the OBA and students use the library heavily, often playing in the library, and using the music rooms, creating a real cultural space.

The Theater van ’t woord is professionally designed with the latest in light/ sound/ recording technology. It seats 270 (the 10th largest in Amsterdam) and is linked with the library. Nearly everything is possible: film/ music/ lectures and it is also linked to catering and conference rooms. It already hosts 25 performances a month. A smaller children’s theatre seats 40.
Librarians work on the floor, the information desks are designed to consult with the borrower side by side. Increasingly programs are being held on the weekends, requiring more staff to work then. 50 new staffing positions were created for the new building.

There are a number of exhibition spaces within OBA, including 300 m2 of professional exhibitions supplementing what the library offers. The current exhibition features the OBA’s architect, Jo Coenen, with an exhibition called 3 buildings, 7 themes, 1 story.

The OBA costs around 1million Euro per month to operate. The Library Director acknowledges it is a lot of money, but also emphasises to the funders that it is cheap for what they get. The library gives a lot back to the City and is the most popular building in Amsterdam. It is a combination of information, education, culture and meeting place. There is the possibility for everything in the library. It is a tourist attraction as well as a library.

02 October, 2008

Library tour

I am on a busman's holiday as they say - a group of librarians are visiting the best libraries in the world. Fifteen of us from Victoria, Queensland and South Australia are on a 3 week study tour to learn from our colleagues.

Our first stop was Singapore. Singapore libraries underwent a radical overhaul in the early noughties - many wonderful new libraries were built and usage rose dramatically. It has been interesting to see the sustainabilty of this enormous investment that the government made to their library service. We visited the beautiful new National Library that was opened in July 05 - The building consists of two 16 storey blocks, which are linked by skybridges on every floor. It houses two libraries, the Central Lending Library in Basement 1 and the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library from Levels 7 to 13. The lending library was full of people using the space and the facilities and the reference library houses over 8 million items.

We also visited the Esplanade library which is a special public library for the performing arts. The Esplanade building is a landmark building in Singapore, sometimes described as looking like a durian fruit. The library has collections in dance, music, film and theatre and has facilities such as pianos for practice as well as recitals and a wide audiovisual collection.

Our final visit was to the Bishan library which is the newest library in the system. The library is spread over four floors and a basement, with a coffee shop on the first floor. It has over 200,000 items for loan. A feature of this library are the windows that protrude out of the building which are reading pods for readers who want to read quietly. They are very popular with teenagers, who are at the doors every morning on opening to claim one of these spaces.

Singapore libraries are world's best practice in their systems and processes and the work they have done in developing self service has really led the way. They are now looking to the future to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of the people of Singapore.

Last night we arrived in Helsinki, so my next post will be about these innovative and exciting libraries.

22 September, 2008

Would you like to write your own reviews?

Sometimes when I read a book I find it just so wonderful that I would love to tell everyone about it. I am still moved everytime I think of A fine balance by Rohintan Mistry. Sometimes I borrow a book and its a real stinker and I think - I could tell people not to waste their time! Well now I, and you too dear reader, can.

We have installed a program in our catalogue called Chilifresh. This allows anyone to add their own reviews to a title and give it a star rating. It is designed especially for public libraries and allows borrowers to share their thoughts about books and post them to a website to share with all libraries who are subscribed to this service. One of our patrons has already added a review - we'd love you to too.

16 September, 2008

back blogging

There's been a bit of a gap in my blog - caused by the ALIA conference in Alice Springs and then me picking up a nasty viral infection that laid me low. But hopefully all will return to normal again...

The ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association) conference is held every 2 years and this is only the second time that it has been held outside a capital city. Despite some doubts about whether there would be a good turnup, nearly 600 attended. Never having been to Alice Springs before, I was delighted by the wonderful landscape and the friendly locals. The conference had a strong emphasis on indigenous library services. A satellite event prior to the conference proper featured success stories from public libraries around Australia. It included indigenous storytelling by a librarian on Cape York, the local history publishing program at Launceston public library and Verbyl, a youth drop in centre and library in Yepoon.

We have just had the wrap up for our Taste of Web 2.0 online learning program, and 8 lucky (and hardworking) people are now the proud owners of an iPod. The program will stay up on our website, for people to continue to access.

Our two exchange librarians from the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County have arrived and are settling in. Kim and Mark started work yesterday, and are busy touring the region and getting orientated. They are also being inducted into an important bit of Melbourne culture, and will attend the Preliminary final on Friday night!

20 August, 2008

Nillumbik Number One in Victoria!

Entrance to Eltham library

Nillumbik has just been announced as Victoria's number one local government area for livability and number three in Australia.

From The Age this morning:

The recipe for happy little Elthamites
WITH its tree-lined streets, rolling hills and water views, Eltham is known for offering the best of country living a short distance from the city. Now the suburb and its local government area (LGA), Nillumbik, have been declared Melbourne's most liveable area in a report by BankWest.
BankWest's Quality of Life Index ranked 590 LGAs across Australia for employment levels, crime, internet access, health, education, earnings, home ownership and community involvement. Nillumbik is one of 21 Victorian LGAs in the top 60. Tristin Dawes of Eltham North values the suburb's welcoming nature. "I moved here because of all the trees and the real community feel," she said. The shire features 22 primary schools, five secondary schools and one TAFE. "We're close to the city but far enough to have some privacy," Ms Dawes said.

The article doesn't mention the two wonderful libraries we have in Nillumbik - the award winning Eltham library and Diamond Valley library. Both libraries are full of great collections, have a wide program of events and activities and terrific staff. They are a real asset to the community, and a couple of years ago Elthamites voted their library as the heart of the community. We are looking forward to taking the library into the future with its planned expansion next year.

Well done Nillumbik!

11 August, 2008

Visitor from Stockholm

Asplund Library and Delphinium

Inga Lunden, the Director of the Stockholm Public Library is visiting Melbourne on her way to the Australian Library and Information Association's conference in Alice Springs. She is speaking at the State Library tomorrow and to Yarra Plenty staff on Wednesday morning.

Scandinavian libraries have always been considered leaders in public library provision and they enjoy strong community and political support in these countries. Stockholm has just undertaken a major architectural competition to select a design for a new central library that will complement the beautiful and famous Asplund building. The German architect Heike Hanada's proposal Delphinium won the architectural competition for the grand expansion of the library. The plan includes a glass building, which connects to Asplund's library by a low, podium-like structure enclosing a circular garden. A final political decision on the expansion of the renowned library has yet to be taken by the Stockholm City council.

We are looking forward to hearing what is happening in Swedish libraries and learning from Inga.

04 August, 2008

Taste of Web 2.0 is underway!

Cr Sam Alessi working on his blog

The online program that shows you how to use some of the very useful web 2.0 tools is now underway, and we already have nearly 200 people signed up! Participants will learn how to blog, set up an RSS feed, load their photos to share with family and friends on Flickr, set up a page on Facebook and ring their friends for free on Skype. All these technologies make it easier to stay in touch and share information.

Cr Sam Alessi, the deputy Chairperson of the Library Board, was the first person to sign up and is blogging at samalessi.blogspot.com. You might have seen his picture in the paper.

The program will remain available for some time yet, but to be in the draw for 1 of 9 iPods, you need to have finished all the modules and completed the feedback form by Friday September 5th - so you've got a month to get going!! It's up to you if you want to pace yourself or do it all in one concentrated hit. Branches are running programs to help people, so if you get stuck, just email connect@yprl.vic.gov.au or visit your local branch.

Good luck with the program - it's great fun to learn new things, and this program is available whenever you want to do it, wherever you want to do it. Get blogging!! And I'd love to hear what you think of it.

29 July, 2008

Plenty Reads

Author Kerry Cue will speak at Ivanhoe Library in August

At the beginning of the year we launched our Plenty Reads program at Ivanhoe Library. This reading campaign aims to promote reading in our region with a visiting author program, a reading wiki and other activities to encourage everyone to read.

August will see more action with the Books Alive - we have 14 authors visiting our branches! Books Alive is a federal government initiative that uses the money from the GST on books to promote reading and publishing in Australia. We are pleased to announce the following program:

Kim McKay will be at Watsonia on Thursday 7 August at 2.00pm

Toni Jordan in conversation with Alison Croggon at Diamond Valley on Monday 11 August at 6.30pm

Chrissie Perry in conversation with Meredith Badger at Rosanna on Saturday 23 August at 10.30am

Debra Adelaide at Mill Park on Monday 25 August at 6.30pm

Children's Adventure Day at Eltham on Sunday 31 August from 1pm - 5pm with Archimede Fusillo, Michael Pryor, Anna Walker, Holly Sievers (13 year old with 2 books!) Nick Place, Marion Roberts

Kerry Cue at Ivanhoe on Thursday 14 August at 6.30pm

Anne Manne at Watsonia on Monday 18 August at 7.00pm

For more information about the authors, dates and times check out YarraPlentyBooks

There has been some debate about the Books Alive program, in particular in the Australian on the weekend. Beth Driscoll says:

Books Alive is an admirable attempt to provide guidance in a world where thousands of new books are printed each year. The campaign uses government money to give literature new market power and provide a boost to overall literacy.
At the same time, Books Alive's popularity-oriented approach flattens culture, mixing literary fiction in with true crime and promoting them all like blockbuster films. It contributes to a publishing culture where a handful of bestselling books are flogged at every opportunity, while the rest sink without a trace.

Do you have a view on Books Alive? we'd love to hear if you do.

21 July, 2008

Local media

Marketing & Media Co ordinator Chris Dennis at the briefing

Last week the library service held a media briefing for local journalists. We are very appreciative of the positive and cooperative relationship we have with our local newspapers, which are the most widely read by the community and we wanted to let them know that.

We also talked about how libraries are changing and highlighted some of our new projects, particularly the Taste of Web online learning program. We know that if we get good coverage for our events and activities that many more people participate because of the wide reach of local papers.

Journalists too are grappling with the changes in their world, as blogging unleashes the "citizen journalist" who is not responsible to an editor or an organisation, but is free to independently comment and publish online. Newspapers are also incorporating blogging in their online editions, encouraging people to offer their views on different stories. Web 2.0, the interactive, participative web is really changing the world we live in.

How is it changing your environment? Please feel free to leave a comment.

15 July, 2008

Eltham Branch

Heading up the stairs to Eltham library

This is the second in the series of highlighting our branch libraries.

Eltham Library is a beautiful place, voted by Eltham people as the heart of their community. It is a mud brick building with a wonderful timber ceiling that was designed by award winning architect, Greg Burgess. The library is the busiest in our system, with the most loans and visits and the programs and activities are very popular.

Nillumbik Shire Council is currently planning an extension and repurposing of the library to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of Eltham people. Greg Burgess has been requested to submit plans to update the library and provide more space, especially for children. With the introduction of RFID we can reduce the space needed for a circulation desk and create a reading lounge complete with gas log fire. We will put more pcs in and the learning lounge will be available for individual or group online learning.

The plans will be on display in the library from next week and staff from Council and the library will be there to answer your questions. The times are:
11am - 12 noon Tuesday 22 July
7 pm - 8 pm Wed 23 July
10.30 am Thursday 24 July

We hope that you are as excited as us about the possibilities!

Let me know what you think.

07 July, 2008

A taste of web 2.0

We are very excited about our newest program, a Taste of Web 2.0: connecting @ your local library.

Starting July 25, this selfpaced online course will introduce you to some popular Web 2.0 applications. Those who complete the program will go into the draw for one of 9 iPods. Registrations open July 11.

The program is divided into 6 modules and covers 14 different technologies including blogs, photosharing, podcasting, image generators, facebook, second life and skype. There are small podcasts to guide you through, and we will have help available online, as well as at your local branch.

During the program you are encouraged to write about what you have learned on your blog. After completing the program and filling in the evaluation form, you will be eligible to go into the draw for 1 of 9 iPod Nanos, one for each branch (including the Mobile Library.) You need to be a member of the library and live or work in Banyule, Nillumbik or Whittlesea local council areas.

We have a limit of 1,000 people participating in this program, so get yourselves organised to register on July 11!

This program was inspired by the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's 23 Things.

30 June, 2008

Lalor Library

Lalor Library

This is the first in an ongoing series that will highlight a particular branch of the library service. I am starting with Lalor library for no particular reason! Lalor was extended and refurbished just over 4 years ago. It is one of our busier branches, there always seems to be something happening there.

A new program called One2One offers people the opportunity to learn about technology in a friendly and supportive environment, one on one with a library staff member. If you would like to learn how to work your new iPod, download a podcast or set up a blog just go along to the library and have a chat with our friendly staff.

New additions to the Toy Library
The Toy Library is being relaunched this Friday at 11am. Cinder the clown will be there, providing face painting and balloon sculpting, and there are lots of new toys to borrow.

The new Wii is proving a big hit with younger borrowers, and we have a dance pad, a guitar and a fit pad as well as over 20 games. The launch party was a couple of weeks ago at the Just4Kids session. Just4Kids is an after school program for 5 - 12 year olds that encourages reading and games at the library.
Baby storytime is really taking off at Lalor too, after storytime mums are welcome to stay and chat over a cup of tea or coffee. There is now a parent's room with a microwave and change table and a couch for mums to feed their babies.
So if you are in the Lalor area - feel free to drop in, have a chat with the staff, pick up something to read and take home or maybe even have a go on the Wii! I know Felicity and all the staff at Lalor would love to see you.

23 June, 2008

Annual Budget and Strategic Plan

Finding My Place project to be expanded in 08/09

At the Board meeting on Thursday night the Annual Budget 08/09 and Strategic Plan 08/12 were adopted.

The aim of the 08/09 budget is to
  • increase collection funding to achieve a 6 year depreciation rate over the next 5 years

  • achieve the outcomes that have been identified in the Strategic Plan and the Service Frameworks
The overall budget increase for the library service is 4.9%. Some of the new projects that will be undertaken this year are:
  • Plenty Reads project, a program to promote reading and share reading experiences, including promotion of local authors
  • Finding My Place, an expansion of the program for at risk students in conjunction with local secondary schools

  • Marketplace of ideas, a new program to introduce speakers and discussion groups to increase community capacity

  • Children's library upgrades to make the spaces more attractive and vibrant
  • Additional pcs for branches, including advanced workstations
  • Digitising local history, especially local photographs.

  • As well as these projects, an additional $42,000 will be available to purchase library books and other resources.
This budget also sees overdue charges rising by 5c to 25c a day, the first increase in 12 years. We charge overdue fees to encourage people to return their library items in a timely manner and so allow everybody the best access possible to our collections. The cost for lost library cards will also increase, to $2.50.

The Annual Budget and Strategic Plan 08 - 12 are both available on the library's homepage.

Let us know what you would like in your local library, we'd love to hear from you.

Children's concept Mill Park Library

16 June, 2008

Libraries for everybody seeking to understand the world and themselves

This was the theme for the International Federation of Library Associations' (IFLA) Metlib conference in Prague which I have just attended. Metlib is a section of the association for large urban libraries and members include some of the largest libraries in the world, Toronto, Taipei, Shanghai, Queens, Seattle and Singapore as well as leading Scandinavian libraries, Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Strahov Monastery Library

The program included papers and visits to cultural institutions including some very beautiful libraries, in particular the National Library of the Czech Republic and the Library of the Strahov Monastery, both of which date back to medieval times.

One of the most interesting presentations was from Taipei , Chinese libraries are becoming world leaders in many areas and their new libraries are embracing green principles. There is a strong program of events and activities promoting reading, some of which we can try at Yarra Plenty, and some of their new libraries are being sponsored by private companies.

In Singapore they are attempting to raise the livability index through rejuvenation of libraries, and they are looking to have a Youth library in Orchard Rd and also a Sports library to complement the Performing Arts library at the new Arts Centre.

Stockholm too is using libraries to increase its profile, and its aim to be a world class city by 2030 encompasses the new Stockholm library that extends the famous Asplund library, that will be completed by 2014.

I have come back with many new ideas and a new energy for the vital role that libraries are playing in our changing world. Please feel free to share your experiences of overseas libraries on the blog.

02 June, 2008

Services for children and teens at PLCMC

An exchange program between the Yarra Plenty Library Service and the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in North Carolina gave two staff from Yarra Plenty the opportunity to explore ways that another public library encourages visits from children and youth.

It is always hard to encourage the younger generation into the physical library building, especially in a world where social networking tools such as Myspace and Facebook, mobile phones and chat are part of everyday multi-tasking.

The Public Library if Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) have worked very hard in this area and have created great programs which draw children and teens to the library. Here is a snapshot of some of the innovative ways they attract the younger generation.

ImaginOn is a collaborative venture of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and the Children's Theatre of Charlotte.
It provides cutting-edge services and library collections, award-winning professional theatre and innovative education programs to children and teens. Parents must be accompanied by a child or teen to enter this library.
Services at ImaginOn, with specially-designed spaces, technology, and programs for 12-18 year olds, include the following:

Tech central
A space just for teens where they can use computers, do homework or just simply play games and socialize in a safe environment.

Studio i
An animation, video, editing and music creation room.
Computers with specific programs for recording and editing music are available to use.
Specific workstations with camera, lighting, blue screen and whiteboard capability with the ability to provide animation programming are also available in this area.

The Loft
ImaginOn has a space just for teens called "The loft"
Cafe style booths provide wifi access as well as a place to talk and socialise.
The loft facilities includes books magazines, CDs, DVDs, games and computers and well as regular ongoing after-school programs and informal learning communities for 12 – 18 years olds.
The loft has it's own web site and also offers online services to teens via IM

The Library offers gaming events for all ages featuring next generation consoles and state-of the-art laptops. There are events at many different locations for many different age groups, including childrens, teens and family programs.

Childrens services
Preschoolers can enjoy storytimes where they can listen to stories, sing songs and join in craft activities. Special computers equipped with early literacy software are accessible to introduce this age group to computers and learning.

School aged children
Computers loaded with special software enable children to explore games and write stories in a safe online environment.
Interactive exhibitions in the library enable children to explore in a hands-on environment.

The children’s theatre in run independently but allows children to become involved in theatre or enjoy productions produced locally. The theatre opens its doors to school groups during the school term as well as running regular worshops and summer camps during the school holidays.
There are two theatres at ImaginOn; the McColl Family Theatre which seats 570, and the Wachovia Playhouse which seats 250.

26 May, 2008

PLA conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota

In March this year Jane Grace and Lynette Lewis from Yarra Plenty Regional Library had the opportunity to attend the annual Public Library Association Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is a brief account of their experience.

After a fifteen hour flight to Los Angeles, followed by domestic flights to Dallas and finally to Minneapolis, we arrived to see a blanket of snow covering the ground, certainly a contrast from the summer temperatures we had been experiencing in Melbourne.

Approximately 10,000 library attendees, exhibitors, authors and guests descended on the Minneapolis Convention Centre Minnesota for the 12th National PLA conference. The conference included workshops and discussions that focused on key issues such as technology; serving adults; gaming in libraries; library design and collection development; often drawing standing room only crowds in each conference room.

The conference opened with philanthropist John Wood, founder and CEO of Room to Read, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children in the developing world through education. Wood discussed the inspiration for his organization, this initial decision to leave his position at Microsoft, and his grand vision to provide educational access to 10 million children in the developing world through his organization.
John has written a book about his vision called “Leaving Microsoft to change the world: an entrepreneur's odyssey to educate the world's children” which is available in the Yarra Plenty Library catalogue.

Conferences such as these also allow library professionals to showcase cutting edge innovations in the library world... It is through these papers we can see what libraries are leading the way with technology, programs and their approach to the future of how libraries will be perceived.

We experienced wonderful papers which gave us insight into how libraries in America use cutting edge technology. Exceptional papers included:

“Changing Cultures: Experiences in Fostering Innovation from Within” and paper co-presented by Melanie Huggins from St Paul Library, Minnesota. We had the privilege of being invited to a brain storming session organized by Melanie to discuss the use of Web 2.0 technologies in libraries. During this session we were able to share some of the latest trends being offered at Yarra Plenty and in other Australian libraries. Trend which included the Wikinorthia collaborative wiki and the Learning 2.0 program being administered at a statewide level.

"What's the Big Idea? The Idea Store and the Future of Public Libraries" co-presented by Sergio Dogliani. The Idea Stores offer a new approach to public library services, offering a place to browse and borrow books, read a newspaper or magazine, learn new skills, surf the net or to relax and meet friends over a coffee in a fun and stimulating environment.

“Creating New Stories and Investigating New Literacies with Virtual Worlds, Interactive Media, and Games” presented by Kelly Czarnecki and Matt Gullett.
This paper focused on the innovative ways Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County use gaming programs, including interactive media creation, gaming tournaments, virtual worlds development, and adult gaming activities in their libraries.

In todays world library staff around the world learn and share experiences via the Web through blogs, emails and other virtual Web applications, rather than meeting people face-to-face.

The opportunity to attend the PLA conference and the chance to listen and contribute to discussions about innovation, technology and the future of libraries and the chance to meet in people we know by name but have never conversed with in person was an opportunity we will both regard as the experience of a lifetime.

19 May, 2008

It's Library & Information Week

Every year Australian libraries celebrate Library & Information Week with special programs and activities to highlight the important role libraries play in the community. The first Library Week was held 40 years ago, in 1968.

The theme this year is Libraries are for everyone, and Yarra Plenty has lots of activities on this week. Highlights are the Literary Speed dating at Watsonia tomorrow (Tuesday) night, digital photography at Mill Park on Thursday evening at 6.30 and a session on wikis at Eltham library on Friday morning at 10.30. Have a look at our calendar of events for a list of what's on.

Another event being held during Library Week is National Simultaneous Storytime, where the same story is read all around the country at the same time. This year the book is Arthur, and at Mill Park library we have the Mayor, Cr Elizabeth Nealy, reading it, along with a very special guest. I'll see you there.

I'm off for a couple of weeks from next week, so I've asked Jane and Lynette to fill in and write something about their exchange to the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County.

12 May, 2008

Education & virtual worlds

Last week I was invited to present at workshops to teacher librarians on web 2.0 technologies, how we have integrated them into our library service and how we have encouraged staff to explore and play with things like blogs, wikis and social tagging. Also presenting at the workshop were Will Richardson from the US, who talked about why the read/write web changes everything (and who blogs at http://weblogg-ed.com/) and 2 NSW educators, Westley Field and Judy O'Connell.

Will presented some compelling arguments about why the education system and the way we teach children needs to change. He challenged the audience to act as models in the online world and provide advice and guidance on the impact of social networking.

Westley Field from MLC School in Sydney is the Director of the "Skoolaborate" initiative. This uses virtual reality to engage students in new ways of learning about the world. This is an incredibly exciting global initiative.

We learned about some great new web tools and sites - ustreamtv is your own personal television station - for all you budding media moguls out there. Myfamily.com helps keep track of the doings of your nearest and dearest and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has all its courses online for free.

Life is certainly changing for schools and teachers, and it was very interesting to hear some of the future directions it is likely to take. Yarra Plenty is currently administering the Learning 2.0 program for a number of school librarians in Victoria, and they are very engaged with that.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about how learning will change because of new technologies.

05 May, 2008

Medieval imagination

I had a spare hour between meetings last week at the State Library, providing the opportunity to visit the absolutely wonderful Medieval Imagination exhibition, which is on until 15 June. The beauty of these manuscripts, their freshness, their colour and the story they tell about life and beliefs from the 8th to the 16th centuries is just magic. This is the first time that such a display has been shown in Australia, and it has material from Cambridge, New Zealand and Australia. A real sense of humanity shines through, as well as the labour of love that the manuscripts convey.

My favourite is the one that highlights a miscommunication between the scribe and the illustrator, they both thought the other one was doing the capital "E" to start the sentence...so of course, neither of them incorporated it, and it has been included afterwards as a small E in a box. We all mess up sometimes!

On a similar theme, I was listening to the radio over the weekend and there was a program about the Nelson Moore Richardson and Helen Morewood Richardson collection. The Collection of 289 volumes consists mainly of texts of the English Bible and related material, together with some early printed books, herbals and medieval manuscripts. The radio program described how this collection was bequeathed to the Library, mainly due it seems to the agreeable Australians Mr Richardson met on his visit to NSW in the early 1920s. He was so taken with the people he met, he wanted to leave his collection for their benefit. The Chief Librarian of the Public Library of NSW steered the political process and ensured that the collection did indeed end up at the Library, organising for Mr Richardson to meet with the Premier of NSW who was visiting "the old country." One of the most significant manuscripts isthe score of a Gregorian chant which has now been performed for the first time at the State Library of NSW. The whole story can be read on the ABC website, on the Religion Report. Its fascinating!

So, all this is very different from the daily work of the public library, but it highlights how important libraries are in preserving material and making it accessible to people.

28 April, 2008

Welcome to winter!

The weather has certainly changed, from our balmy autumnal temperatures last week to a distinct nip in the air today! There's snow in the mountains - the ski operators are pleased. In direct contrast with that, I was driving along the Princes Highway on Saturday, through the smoke from the fires in Garfield and Tonimbuk, which was very thick.

I like winter - soup, stews, red wine, fires - and books! There's nothing better than a cold wet Melbourne Sunday afternoon, when you can't do anything else but curl up with a good book and perhaps a chocolate or two beside the fire.

I'm reading a book by Jonathan Raban at the moment - Passage to Juneau, where he writes about his experiences sailing up the northwest passage from Seattle to Juneau in Alaska. He follows the steps of earlier explorers and weaves their adventures in to the narrative, his recounting of Captain Vancouver's expedition provides a fascinating backdrop to his own story. And its cold and wet there too!

So why not pop into your local branch, pick up a good book and head home to relax and enjoy yourself. And let us know what you like doing on cold wet weekends in Melbourne....

21 April, 2008

We've updated our homepage!

The library's homepage has been updated to better reflect how people are now using the internet. There are easy links to blogs, the reading wiki and other social networking sites and the front page now looks much cleaner. There's a search bar for you to find out if we have a particular item quickly, and other quick links to LibraryLink Victoria for interlibrary loans, and to databases. And there's a link to the downloadable media, through Overdrive. I hope you like it - please let me know.

We are also on FaceBook, we'd love you to become a fan! You can search the catalogue from there too. We've got a MySpace account too, featuring the Get Loud at the Library program that has just been held. There are audio clips and photos to enjoy.

Remember you can do lots of things online - renew your items, change your email address, and place holds on items. Soon you will be able to pay your charges too, we are introducing an online payment system in a couple of months.

If you have any ideas about what services you would like online or what you would like to find on the library's homepage, please post a comment.

15 April, 2008

Library statistics

Yesterday I attended a workshop on Data Collection and Analysis for Victorian library managers in at the State Library. Libraries are good at collecting statistics, we know how many people borrow how many books, how many people come into the library and attend activities and programs. We count our new members, how many holds people place and how many searches are done on the catalogue. All these statistics are in our Annual Report.

The purpose of the workshop was to explore how and why we collect all this data. There is a wealth of demographic data freely available on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website. This could be most useful for small business people as well, as it gives in fine detail all sorts of information, for example, how many mothers with children between 0 - 4 years are working, by postcode. The information is provided in maps or tables. For libraries, some of the relevant areas are the breakdown by age of the community, ethnic background and internet connectivity. This sort of information is very useful for designing services and programs.

Another very interesting speaker was Mary Dalmau from Readers Feast Bookstore in the City. She talked about the sorts of statistics and information she needs to run a successful bookshop, and how it is very different managing a bookshop where people are looking for an experience when they visit, compared say to a chemist shop. She is particularly proud of her staff who are all avid readers and are able to convey their enthusiasm and love of books to customers.

This ties in with a conference that has just been held, also at the State Library, on Reading Development, which was about how librarians can promote reading for pleasure. Again there were some wonderful presenters and some great ideas to bring back, and our staff who attended are getting together to develop ideas that they got from speakers from the UK and NZ as well as Australia. One of the most popular was Tom Palmer, a young man who is employed as a reading consultant for a group of libraries in the UK. He explained that when he was in primary school he was a very poor reader, but his mother encouraged him by using books and magazines about soccer to engage his interest. Now he is using similar techniques with boys as part of an ongoing program in libraries and schools in the north of England, with great success - and he writes books for children using football as the main theme.

Let us know if you have ideas on how you would like the library to encourage a love of reading or even if you'd like to know some statistics!

07 April, 2008

Library governance

Library Board members and senior staff

I thought people might be interested in how the Library Service is governed and something of its history. Yarra Plenty Regional Library has been in existence in some form since the mid 60s when the then City of Heidelberg began providing library services to the former Shire of Eltham. Later the former Shire of Diamond Valley and the Shire of Whittlesea joined, and in 1989 it became incorporated under Section 196 of the Victorian Local Government Act.

The Library is governed by a Board, comprising 2 councillors from each of the 3 municipalities, Banyule, Nillumbik and Whittlesea. Board meetings are held bi monthly and rotate between Banyule and Whittlesea. The Board develops the strategic direction for the Library Service and is responsible for ensuring that it is effective and efficient. Board members recommend the library budget to their respective councils for approval, and also appoint the CEO. I am responsible for the operational aspects of the service.

The advantages of a regional library are that the costs of specialist staff are amortised across 3 councils and members have access to a much larger and more comprehensive collection than they would as single municipal library services. We have an Outreach Section that comprises a Manager, a Reading Co ordinator, a Local History Librarian, a Seniors Librarian and a Marketing and Media Co ordinator. These staff work across all 3 municipalities.

The Regional Library manages the staff, the IT provision and finances, including payroll. We are like a small Council, and we are audited by the Victorian Auditor General and are required to submit our Strategic Plan and Budget to the Minister for Local Government each year. The member Councils provide the buildings and maintain them.

There are many advantages to belonging to a regional library and we look forward to continuing a high level of service to our communities.

Please feel free to comment on our services or anything else.

31 March, 2008

Successful grant applications

Jacob uses a Daisy reader (from Vision Australia Website)

We were pleased to be awarded 2 important grants in the last couple of weeks.

In partnership with Vision Australia Information Library Service, Eastern Regional Libraries Corporation, Goldfields Library Corporation, and Whitehorse Manningham Regional Library, Yarra Plenty was awarded $73,100 for a Service Enhancement through Partnership project.

The Service Enhancement through Partnership project will deliver digital information to Victorians who are blind, have low vision or have a print disability through public libraries. It will also provide people with print disabilities greater access to reading materials by using DAISY devices and hopefully to encourage and facilitate people joining existing public library book clubs.

I mentioned DAISY books in one of my earlier blogs, they are digital books loaded onto special playback devices that provide easier access than ordinary CD talking books and also have some smart features, like remembering where you stopped listening to a book, even if you've listened to others subsequently. The long term goal of Vision Australia is to distribute the devices to everyone who is eligible. If you know anyone who has a print disability, please contact Marie McMahon for more details.

The other grant we were pleased to recieve is from the Victorian State Government is for $69,000 towards a new prime mover for the Mobile Library through the Living Libraries Project. The new mobile library is just over 2 years old now, and provides a much valued service especially for outlying communities. This grant will allow us to upgrade the prime mover which is now due for replacement.

25 March, 2008

Yarra Plenty staff on study exchange to the USA

Imaginon, PLCMC

Yesterday morning two Yarra Plenty staff boarded a plane for the US - they are off to do a 5 week exchange at the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County in North Carolina.

Lynette Lewis and Jane Grace were chosen to represent our library in a new program instituted last year between our 2 libraries, which will also see 2 staff from PLCMC visit Yarra Plenty in the next few months.

Jane and Lynette are also attending the Public Library Association Conference in Minneapolis on the way to Charlotte.

PLCMC is one of the most innovative and inspiring library systems in the United States. An online learning program for library staff called the 23 Things program was developed there and it is also home to the fabulous Imaginon, a children’s library and theatre complex. Yarra Plenty implemented the 23 Things program for our staff and we have built up a relationship with PLCMC over the past 18 months.

The learning opportunities will focus on any of the following areas:

• Work experience within the children’s and teen library at ImaginOn, a unique partnership of the Library and the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte

. Work experience within self selected divisions and departments of Main Library, or any of the 23 other locations. Focus areas for PLCMC include community engagement, organisational excellence, research, innovation and strategy, library experience, branch planning, collection management, development and building strategies

• An orientation to PLCMC and an overview of the library’s culture, management and strategic planning processes

• An opportunity to participate in Library Board and senior management meetings

• Branch visits and visits to neighbouring library systems.

We are very excited about this special opportunity to learn and share with a leading US public library. I'll keep you posted on their adventures!

17 March, 2008

Young readers program launched

On the 5th March the Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development, Maxine Morand, launched the Young Readers Program.

The key objectives of this State Government initiative are the delivery of children's books and reading support materials to improve early childhood literacy. The program has 3 components:

  1. A picture book for every 2 year old child through the Maternal & Child Health service

  2. A free "Rhyme Time" booklet and DVD, book bags and information on local libraries for families with 4 month old babies through the Maternal & Child Health Service and

  3. Professional development offered to early childhood professionals, librarians and maternal and child health nurses.

This project is being managed by the State Library of Victoria and is funded by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

It will work in conjunction with the long running Bookaroo program that our library service has provided for a number of years. This too is promoted through Maternal & Child Health services and provides an opportunity for new parents to learn how to read to their babies and prepare them for literacy. On joining the library the baby is presented with a book. There are regular programs in the branches for babies and toddlers.

Let us know if you use these services and attend programs with your baby or toddler - we'd love to have your feedback.

12 March, 2008

Home Library Services

Marie McMahon, Aged services officer
This Friday Yarra Plenty is hosting a workshop for library managers and outreach library staff to discuss future directions for home library services. As our population ages, there is a greater need for libraries to deliver books and other materials, especially talking books, to people who can no longer visit the library. The aim of the workshop is to share information and ideas and discover new technologies, such as Vision Australia's Daisy reader and Overdrive, the downloadable media now available from Yarra Plenty.

Home library service is the library version of Meals on Wheels for library materials. We have a wide range of books in large print and talking books for those whose eyesight might be failing. We also hold current magazines, a huge range of dvds and music cds. Materials are delivered to people in their homes by volunteers who select the material and deliver it on a regular basis.

As well as home delivery, the library also has an outreach vehicle that was commissioned at the end of 05. It is a state of the art purpose built mobile library for ambulatory older people who cannot access their branch library. With its wheelchair lifter, it is accessible for people in wheelchairs and on walking frames. It visits assisted living accommodation in the region on a regular roster.

If you know of anyone who loves to read but has difficulty getting to the library because of sickness or disability please phone Marie McMahon, our Aged Services Officer, on 9401 0725 or email mmcmahon@yprl.vic.gov.au. Referral forms are available at all our libraries and can be downloaded here.

Also, if you know of a facility that would be interested in having the Outreach Vehicle visit, or you are interested in volunteering we would love to hear from you.

Have you used these outreach services? What do you think of them? Please let us know.

03 March, 2008

Wikinorthia Launched

WikiNorthia, a joint project between Darebin, Moreland and Yarra Plenty libraries, was launched last Thursday at Coburg Library by the President of the Library Board of Victoria, Mr John Cain. This initiative aims to collect and preserve the stories and images of this region’s colourful history and rich cultural foundations.

WikiNorthia uses social networking technology to publish people's stories in Melbourne’s north onto the world wide web. This is the first such project in Victoria and Australia, engaging people from communities across the five local council areas of Moreland, Darebin, Banyule, Nillumbik and Whittlesea. The aim is to engage and encourage people across the five municipalities to share their stories and by compiling people’s stories, photographs, even moving images, a profile will be built of life in Melbourne’s north.

The project was funded by the Library Board of Victoria , through a $50,000 Libraries Building Communities demonstration grant.

Ongoing training sessions will be offered to people who are interested in contributing their stories, memories and insights to the project through their local library. A reminiscence session will be held at Watsonia Library on Wednesday April 16 from 10.30 - 11.30 where library staff will help you record your memories of growing up in the northern suburbs.

I encourage you to have a look at the site, and please - feel very welcome to add your stories. We are looking forward to watching WikiNorthia grow!

25 February, 2008

Accessing books across Australia

Sometimes people want to borrow books that their local library does not have in stock. One of the services that Yarra Plenty offers is obtaining books from other libraries, or in library speak, inter library loans. This service has been available for a long time, but recently it got a lot easier for people to track down a title and place a request to borrow.

LibraryLink Victoria is a State Government initiative provided through Victorian public libraries that offers online access to various databases and library catalogues Australia wide. As well as being able to access library catalogues, you can also request material for pickup from your local branch. This service is free for materials borrowed from other Victorian public libraries. Some other libraries (eg University libraries, some State Libraries) charge for this service, and if they do, the cost is passed on to you - the usual fee is $13.50 per item.

So next time you are looking for a particular title, and your local library doesn't have it, try LibraryLink Victoria. It's another great service from your local library. And let me know if you've used this service and how you find it - we'd love to hear from you!

18 February, 2008

Butterflies and Lalor library

Our World Through Butterflies is a very special project undertaken by the library service in conjunction with NEAMI Whittlesea and the City of Whittlesea. NEAMI is a provider of community mental health rehabilitation and support services funded by the State Government's Health department.

The project has been funded through a Community Grant of $5,000 from the City of Whittlesea, as well as some additional funding from local MP Lily D'Ambrosio and NEAMI Whittlesea.

The Project Coordinator is Suzi Duncan, who has worked with another community artist, Siggy Pferfferle, and NEAMI consumers to create a beautiful mosaic art work made up of butterflies to "encompass, reflect and celebrate the indigenous heritage, cultural diversity, and inclusion of all people of all abilities in the City of Whittlesea." (Sarah Poole, City of Whittlesea's Public Art Officer)
The library wall near the children's area has been painted blue, and features 25 butterflies emerging from the pages of a book all made from mosaic tiles. Butterflies were chosen because they are a symbol of freedom and, for the artists involved with the project, renewal.

"We could have made all the butterflies the same shape but they would still have been so different" says Suzi. Suzi is eager to let other Melbourne communities know about the project saying "Art is an invaluable form of expression, a creative outlet for people who may not be confident to speak or write their feelings. The project is an example to local and neighbouring communities that people who have experienced mental illness are able achieve something significant".

For the library, the project has provided a start to continue a valuable partnership and the opportunity of further projects with NEAMI.

This artwork will be acquired into Council’s Cultural Collection. The project will be officially launched by the Mayor of Whittlesea, Cr Elizabeth Nealy and Cr. Kris Pavlidis on Thursday 28 February at 11 am at Lalor library.