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.