22 December, 2009

Top 10 things for the year

NEAMI launch September at Watsonia

It is the time for lists - here are my top 10 things for Yarra Plenty over the past year:

1. The fantastic response by our staff and especially Jane and Carolyn to the Bushfire Relief effort and the Rebuilding your library collection project

2. Lalor opening 7 days a week, that library really rocks! It is packed with people everytime I go there - great work Felicity and the team

3. The Book Crossing project at Rosanna Station by Joyce and co - making commuters happy on their way to work

4. Storytimes at Epping Plaza, reaching out to kids who wouldn't otherwise have contact with the library

5. All the fantastic Local History events that have been organised by Liz and the branches - and the Local History Forum that brings together over 30 local history associations once a quarter

6. The NEAMI project at Watsonia that has delivered a beautiful underwater mosaic art work for the entrance to the library

7. The Job Exchange to Columbus Ohio by Felicity and Natasha - who learned lots and represented Yarra Plenty with great enthusiasm

8. The reading programs that are encouraging a love of reading in our community, especially the new Bedside Reads that was launched with author visits

9. Our technology gets more stable and better all the time - and now includes iMacs at all branches too - thanks to Les and the Online team

10. Being awarded 4 stars by our library peers in Being the Best We Can - a real tribute to all that the branches do and the direction we are taking the library

I hope that you enjoy the services and programs we offer and there are more exciting things happening in 2010, with the Eltham Library redevelopment and a new website.

Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year to all!

25 November, 2009

The Big Issues Seminar

Storytime at Epping Plaza - outreach to all

The Big Issues Seminar was held at the State Library last Monday and featured 3 keynote speakers.

Tom Bentley, Chief of Staff to the Deputy Prime Minister, has an interesting background in education policy in the UK. He has written a book called "Learning beyond the classroom" and he highlighted the role that libraries can play in lifelong learning. He spoke about the need to recluster education and learning in a broader community network and saw the potential of public libraries as third places for young people.

Patricia Faulkner is the Chair of the Social Inclusion Board. She described their focus so far as being on those with locational disadvantage, jobless families with children, children at greatest risk and measuring social inclusion. Patricia urged us to become involved in aggressive outreach to these people, they are unlikely to be library users and it is necessary for the library to go where they are.

Bill Thompson is a technology commentator for the BBC. He described this current period in human history as a time of profound change and transition, equivalent to the beginning of the agricultural revolution. He talked about the role of libraries in a pervasively networked world and the library's role in ensuring that people don't get left behind. It is not so much access to pcs they need now as the ability to be skilled in using online services and accessing online information.

The two common themes that emerged from the day were:

1. The library as hub or 3rd place to close the digital divide, for the learning agenda of Tom Bentley, the social inclusion of Patricia Faulkner, and the possibilities of easing across the transition for Bill Thompson. This is the connection point, the hub, where people can become empowered, the place where people can become literate in digital and print.

2. The ability to remain relevant to the over served as well as the under served. Every community needs a public knowledge space where all can contribute and have a common meeting ground. There is a need for libraries in affluent areas too as hubs for old and new literacies.

It was a very interesting day.

11 November, 2009

Books and reading

Jung called it synchronicity - when things came together, and that happened to me over the last couple of days.

On the excellent Bookshow on Radio National on Monday, Ramona Koval interviewed self styled bibliophile Rick Gekoski who has written a book called Outside of a dog. The book's title is inspired by the Groucho Marx quote: 'Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.' Rick Gekoski is a former Warwick University literature professor who became a rare-books dealer.

In an amusing and clever interview he described how he had a house full of books - thousands of them. When his first marriage ended acrimoniously, his wife claimed the books as part of the contents of the house, which she was entitled to. He said he was shattered for a long time and wondered how he would cope without these books around him, but came to the realisation that it was reading that was precious, not the act of owning books. ( Aside: a good plug for public libraries!)

Yesterday at the State Library we had a wrap up session on the Bushfire Relief Project - and especially the Rebuilding Book collection project. We were talking about how difficult it would be for book lovers, one lady showed a photo to one of our staff of her extensive collection that she lost in the Black Saturday fires. The program that has been offered to people, to replace particular items and also provide new books, has been very much appreciated by the 200 people who were part of the first program, and no doubt by the many people who will be able to choose their own books from the 28,000 items that will be shipped to affected communities - to libraries and relief centres. We have had some wonderful stories - one was a small boy who couldn't get to sleep because every night his dad had read the Hairy Maclary stories to him, and they had been destroyed. We were able to get a replacement set and sent them up to his school where they were presented to him.

Books are such an integral part of many people's lives, it is hard to imagine not having them around. How do you think you would cope if a vengeful wife or a natural disaster deprived you of your books?

15 October, 2009

Kindle readers

Maybe this time the ebook reader will take off. A report in Time Magazine says:

Amazon, the online retailing giant, did more than any other company to turn the sale of digital books into a real business with the 2007 launch of the Kindle electronic reader. The company has sold an estimated 1.7 million units of the handheld device in the U.S., and it's getting ready to ship millions more. On Oct. 6, Amazon announced that it would soon begin selling Kindles — complete with a key feature that allows users to wirelessly download e-books from Amazon — in more than 100 countries.

This was followed up by a report in The Age last week saying:

Australian Kindle users will have to pay at least 20 per cent more than Americans for books on the Amazon e-book readers and the local publishing industry has expressed serious reservations about supporting the gizmo.

International users already have to pay $US20 ($22) more for the device itself, which begins shipping on October 19 for $US279.

I can remember the first lot of ebook readers - they were launched around 9 years ago, and we purchased 20 for a new branch that was opening in Brisbane. They certainly got us lots of publicity and they weren't too bad to read from, but the business model collapsed and getting content became harder and harder and then impossible. It's taken all this time for the industry to try again, and if anyone can do it, it will be Amazon. The most obvious application is for students, though the use of print text books is surely going the way of print reference books, as more and more information is available online and students have their own laptops. Some US libraries have lent them out - but there is no real library business model yet. We'll see!

Have you read a digital fiction book? Let us know what you think.

17 September, 2009

Philadelphia libraries closing

Free Public Library of Philadelphia Central Library

This is the sort of news that no one expects to hear - as reported on the Free Library of Philadelphia's website

All Free Library of Philadelphia Branch, Regional and Central Libraries Closed Effective Close of Business October 2, 2009

We deeply regret to inform you that without the necessary budgetary legislation by the State Legislature in Harrisburg, the City of Philadelphia will not have the funds to operate our neighborhood branch libraries,regional libraries, or the Parkway Central Library after October 2,2009.

This is not some small rural library system, it is a major library with 54 branches and a collection of over 6 million items that has been established since 1892.

The Wikipedia article on the library says:

Among the Free Library's exemplary collections is the Print and Picture Collection. Spanning the graphic arts from 1493 to the present time, the Free Library's Fine Art Prints and Photographs collection includes thousands of images. Initially representing only Philadelphia artists, the collection has been extended to include early masters as well as renowned modern printmakers and photographers. You can view prints by such artists as Dürer, Rembrandt, Warhol and Dali. Some of the photographers include Ansel Adams, Bernice Abbott,Ray Metzker, Eadweard Muybridge and Aaron Siskind.

In May Siobhan Reardon, President and Director of the library addressed the City Council on the impact of budget cuts and said:

While some may think of the library as an institution that simply lends books, we are in fact a multi-disciplinary, cradle-to-grave institution that serves teens, entrepreneurs, older adults, new immigrants, job seekers, young children, and employers, among so many others. And, as the economy declines and unemployment rises, we are seeing increased demand for our services. Two areas – employment support and drop-out prevention – are of particular importance in these times.

Obviously, this testimony about the vital and highly valued services offered by the library did not have the required result. Having undergone already significant cuts in the past year, the Library Board and Director decided that there was no longer sufficient funding to keep their doors open. Let us hope that the various levels of government step in to stop this major library service closing.

07 September, 2009

The future of libraries

Games corner, Lalor library

CNN has reported that "The stereotypical library is dying -- and its taking its shushing ladies, dank smell and endless shelves of books with it."

Well, I don't think that Yarra Plenty was ever a stereotypical library by that definition, but even so, there is no doubt that our world is changing and as the world goes digital and libraries are undergoing complete transformations.

The article quotes Helene Blowers, from Columbus Metropolitan Library in Ohio (where two of our staff are heading on Wednesday for a job exchange.) She says that "The library building isn't a warehouse for books, it's a community gathering center."

Another person quoted is Rolf Hapel from Aarhus Library in Denmark who says "The library has never been just about books." In Aarhus they are have an exciting array of digital objects and discovery areas that illustrate how people can and will access information.

At Yarra Plenty we have introduced a number of initiatives to broaden the appeal of libraries as well as future proofing ourselves. Most branches now have video game consoles available and there has been a general decrease in the collection as the need for more technology means we need to make decisions about how we use our precious space. The Eltham Library redevelopment will take this a step further with its learning lounge, reading lounge and new children's library that will be more about space for programs and activities and reading space than about books. And the implementation of our RFID system and self service has freed up staff to deliver more programs and activities - we saw a 20% increase in attendance last year. We are just completing our Annual Report and the range and depth of the programs that are run shows what a modern library can do to promote informal learning and encourage a love of reading.

What we are doing is redefining the role of public libraries and ensuring that the traditional values that have ensured the importance of libraries are not lost in a digital age.

31 August, 2009

Parallel imporation of books

This week I'd like to talk about a controversial subject currently before the Australian parliament - the parallel importation of books into this country. The Productivity Commission has recommended that the restrictions on overseas book imports should be lifted. A special Labor Party working group will this week recommend the restrictions be kept, to protect local authors, publishers and printing works.

Federal cabinet is split on the issue, and so am I. On the one hand as a librarian I applaud any moves that will reduce the price of books, both for our purchasing for the library but also the greater good of the community. People buying more books has got to be a better thing from lots of points of view, leading to increases in literacy and knowledge and creativity.

However I am also aware of the grave fears that authors and publishers have; that removing the current arrangements will have a detrimental effect on their industry and on Australian writing. They argue that the current restrictions enable a fairer system for authors and that publishers cross subsidise their emerging authors with well established and profitable ones. And that would not be a good thing.

One example that is often quoted is that when the restrictions on CDs were lifted some years ago, similar dire predictions were made about the local music scene and that in fact the local industry has not suffered and is flourishing. Whether it is a fair thing to compare these two creative industries or not is a moot point.

I'd like to know what you think - as The Australian says, it is an emotional debate and both sides are cranking up their lobbying efforts.

10 August, 2009

Lalor opens on Mondays

Cr Sam Alessi with children from Lalor Park Primary School Choir

Last Monday there were great celebrations at Lalor Library to mark the 7 day opening of this branch. Lalor is the first library in the Yarra Plenty system to be open 7 days and it is a tribute to the staff at Lalor who have rearranged their rosters and taken advantage of the additional time that has been made available by the introduction of self service into our branches last year.

Chairperson of the Library Board, Cr Sam Alessi, spoke about the changes in libraries and how Lalor library reflects these changes, with its wide range of different media, the game stations and pcs and the attractive layout that makes the library so welcoming and a real community place. He noted that when Lalor first opened over 30 years ago the library lent just one book on its first day, now it regularly lends over 1,000 a day.

On the first Monday open, there were 830 visitors to the library - and many complimentary comments from people who are very pleased with the extended hours. Lalor library is a real star!

05 August, 2009

Yarra Plenty is a 4 star library!

Melanie McCarten, Michael Scholtes, Christine Mackenzie, Karyn Siegmann, Euan Lockie

Our Library service recently completed a Quality Audit as part of a Statewide project called "Being the Best We Can" which is being managed by the State Library of Victoria, the Victorian Public Library Network and consultants from Australian Continuous Improvement Group.

The process is based on a Scottish model developed by the Scottish Library Association and involved self rating on 5 Key Result Areas:
1. Providing gateways to information
2. Building individual skills, capability and well being
3. Developing social capital
4. Demonstrating leadership and values
5. Designing, managing and improving systems and processes.

We identified our key strengths as

  • Attractive well designd welcoming libraries staffed by friendly knowledgeable staff
  • Effective and efficient procurement of library collections
  • Use of technology to improve processes and free up staff (eg RFID)
  • Integrating Web 2.0 technologies into service offerings
  • 5 year strategic frameworks developed in consultation with key stakeholders and community
Part of the process is identifying opportunities for improvement and we will be working on promoting the library to non users, improving circulation and promotion of collections, increasing community engagement in planning processes and improved availability of new items for loan.

A 4 Star library means
Major strengths
High standard of provision
Any weaknesses do not impact on users’ experience.

We are very proud to be assessed as a 4 star library and we will be working hard to become a 5 star one - and that means a library that is international best practice!

And don't forget the Librarians tonight on ABC tv - our Mobile library is one of the stars!!

29 June, 2009

Everybody's doing it now

In last week's Fairfax community newspapers there was a feature article on technology use amongst older people. One of our colleagues at Bayside library was on the cover and was interviewed for the article. Karyn pointed out that librarians are sometimes seen as a bit old fashioned but as far as take up of new web 2.0 technologies they are right out there, and are also helping lots of people get online to widen their social networks and keep in touch with family and friends.

At Yarra Plenty we run lots of classes for people who want to learn more about online services, from the online program called Taste of Web which you can work your way through yourself (its on our homepage); to one off classes on particular topics such as planning your next holiday or shopping online; to the regular Techno playgroup run at Ivanhoe library; to an indepth 2 day program held at Mill Park library that was fully subscribed to in a couple of days. All these programs can be found on our events calendar.

And I have to tell you about my 82 year old mother who has just got on the internet and is now connecting with her daughters and granddaughters on Facebook - good on you mum! I think that this really demonstrates the great opportunities that the new technologies offer and enable people to keep in touch in different ways.

How have you found the social networking sites changing the way you keep in touch? I'd love to hear!

23 June, 2009

Bedside reads program

We are launching a new bookclub concept called Bedside Reads next month with the inaugural Bedside Reads Booklovers Festival that will be held from Monday 27 July - Thursday 30 July.

Bedside Reads is an "un" book club. It gives you the opportunity to share your ideas about what you are currently reading, and is not structured around a particular program of books. For more details check out our events calendar.

The Bedside Reads Booklovers Festival invites all readers to partake in a week of interesting author talks, bookchats and offers the opportunity to meet other booklovers. Authors include Jacinta Halloran, Greg De Moore, Bette Sheils, Kate Holden, Arnold Zable and James Phelan.

What have you got on your bedside table at the moment? I've just finished a delightful book called the The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer that tells the story of a group of people on Guernsey Island following the German occupation during World War 2. It is presented as a series of letters and I can really recommend it as a bedside read.

17 June, 2009

LibraryLink Victoria

Did you know you can access the collections of nearly all the public libraries in Victoria easily through one portal giving access to more than nine million books and resources?
LibraryLink Victoria connects to the State’s entire catalogue, including books, CDs, DVDs and other items available for loan. It saves you from going through individual catalogues or driving from one library to another in search of a chosen item.

Library Link can instantly tell you where an item can be found and have it sent to your local library for collection. Simply go to the LibraryLink page and start searching!
As well as searching for physical items you can also search all the online databases at once. To do that you need to SIGN IN (just use your library card number and PIN) and go to Advanced Search, and then choose "Databases" in the Profile section. We will be working on making this easier to find and use over the next few weeks.
Happy searching!

09 June, 2009

Library does away with Dewey

The Library Journal (US) reports that

"The six-branch (plus bookmobile) Rangeview Library District, Adams County, Colorado, will be the first library system in the country to fully drop the Dewey Decimal Classification in favor of a system adapted from that used in the book industry. While Dewey has been dropped in some smaller branches, Rangeview’s biggest building will have 85,000 items." They are using a retail system that bookshops use to categorise their collection and this is being mapped to their library management system.

This is a very interesting development and is probably the start of a popular movement. There are branch libraries in Melbourne (eg Hampton, part of Bayside Library Service) that have done away with the Dewey system and shelved their non fiction by subject. It makes it much easier for patrons to find all the items when they are grouped like this, as the Dewey system can separate titles that would make sense to be together.

When I was in Brisbane they tried this in some of the small libraries, but interestingly the patrons didn't like it and we moved back to the straight Dewey system. One of our branches, Thomastown, is going to experiment with shelving items by subject rather than Dewey, we will see how that goes.

What do you think? Should libraries stick with Dewey or explore other ways of shelving their books?

02 June, 2009

BookCrossing at Rosanna Railway Station

Rosanna Railway Station

Andrea, the Branch Manager at Rosanna sent me this email on Friday:

"We have just finished a very successful Library Week activity at Rosanna railway station.

We set up a table at the station for four mornings this week between 8am and 10am. Joyce handed out library publicity and offered commuters a free withdrawn book - adult fiction or paperback - each one with a BookCrossing tag and a registration number.

The idea is that readers register their title on the BookCrossing website then read it and pass it on to a friend or leave it somewhere to be picked up by the next reader, who also registers on the website. The website tracks the book's progress around Melbourne or Australia or even overseas and we can also check out the readers' comments about the books (and the "friendly librarian at Rosanna station").

The feedback from both commuters and Connex staff has been extremely positive - Connex have asked if we can do this again during the next school holidays but some commuters have already asked if we could do this once a week.

Commuters were happy - not just to get something for free but they were intrigued by the BookCrossing idea and pleasantly surprised to see friendly library staff out and about early on a cold morning at the station. Perhaps having a book to read on the train and switch off was also a more inviting prospect than reading the daily news. We have been checking the website and it appears that many commuters have logged on to BookCrossing as soon as they got to work and registered."

If you were one of the people who got a book at Rosanna Station last week, we'd love to hear from you!

25 May, 2009

Australian Library and Information Week

Today is the start of Australian Library and Information Week - a week that celebrates libraries and the role that they play in discovering new things. This year's theme is Libraries...Your Passport to Discovery.

I can remember when people worked hard to have this week recognised. I used to work at Dandenong Valley Regional Library, and the Regional Librarian, Colin Watson, was a staunch advocate for library promotion. Back in the 80s he was a member of the Australian Library Promotion Committee; and one of the main aims was to have a week that celebrated libraries. He and his fellow committee members fought long and hard for the profession to recognise that this was an important way to advocate for libraries. Once they were convinced, the word could spread to the rest of the world!

ALIA took up the cause and has promoted this week for many years now and librarians around the country celebrate their profession in various ways. We are celebrating at Yarra Plenty:

Monday, 25 May
Start your LIW celebrations with Bedside Reads at Ivanhoe; Early Bird opening hours at Rosanna all week - the library opens at 8am; Coffee for a cause and new book morning tea at Watsonia; Blind Date with a library book at Mill Park and New books at morning tea at Thomastown.

Tuesday, 26 May
It's National Library Technicians Day today - and also a Just4Kids treasure hunt at Ivanhoe; and new books and morning tea at Lalor as well as Bedside Reads.

Wednesday, 27 May
National Simultaneous Storytime - join approximately 850 locations around Australia at 11:00am for the simultaneous read of Pete the Sheep written by Jackie French . Rosanna, Mill Park, Diamond Valley and Eltham are all part of this great event.

Thursday, 28 May
The LIW Biggest Morning Tea @ Eltham Library will be done in real style as Barista Mark Stewart will show you how to make a good coffee on a home machine - to support the Cancer Council.

For all events during LIW check out our Events Calendar

28 April, 2009

Annual Library Budget

At the Board meeting last week our budget for 09/10 was approved to be advertised. A copy is available at all branches if you would like to look at it as well as an online copy. There are 28 days for the public to comment on it.

The main new initiatives for the coming year are a new position to work with young people in our region, a Youth Services Co ordinator. We are doing some wonderful things with young people, in particular the Finding MY Place program (based on the Western Australian program) with 6 secondary schools and a Living and Learning Centre. The program involves a series of 8 - 10 workshops aimed at Year 9 - 11 secondary students at risk of disengaging from secondary school. We have successfully run this program in partnership with Hume/Whittlesea Local learning and Employment Network for the last 2 years. We also run Youth Week programs, and I talked about the very lively program a couple of blogs ago. We are putting wiis into our branches and Lalor library is doing great things with video games. The new position will work with branch staff to engage young people and encourage them to use the library as well as build partnerships with community organisations to offer activities and programs.

The purpose of the role is:

to form high level partnerships with the Youth Departments of member Councils, community organisations and agencies, government departments and local schools;
train and support library staff in relating to and working with young people;
facilitate and identify programs eg literacy, zines, reading, intergenerational computer skills, that will be run in branches;
advocate for young people in the library service;
encourage young people to use the library, ensuring we identify and meet their needs.

The other main initiative is to update our website, which has not been done for a long time and is well needed. We are exploring some very exciting options for that - stay tuned!

Please let us know if you have any comments on the budget document.

23 April, 2009

The death of newspapers?

I was listening to a very interesting program this morning on Radio National, Future Tense, about the future of newspapers. Already in the US there are many cities that no longer have a daily newspaper and even such august publications as the New York Times are said to be under threat. We are lucky in Melbourne where we still have 2 metropolitan dailies and a national paper.

The commentator on the radio was saying that the production of newspapers is a very odd thing to do in the 21st century. First, you find your tree - then it gets pulped. The pulp is sent off to make paper (probably over the sea) and then the paper is shipped to the printers where millions of pages are produced and then the finished item is delivered all over the country, to small businesses and individuals. They are seen as very disposable too, and long gone are the days when they ended their life wrapped around fish and chips or even meat (yes, I'm that old!!)

I admit to being a very dedicated newspaper reader. I get quite anxious if my paper is not on the driveway by 6.30am. During the day I will check the online papers, but nothing to my mind beats reading the paper over breakfast and sitting down in the evening finishing off what I missed in the morning.

Online papers are obviously much greener and less wasteful of resources, but the question is what will happen to the journalists if the papers no longer exist. People are unlikely to pay for online content, so revenue has to be raised by advertising. So how do we still get the investigative journalism and the expert opinion on matters of importance to the community? Will we no longer have professional journalists, but see the rise of the citizen journalist?
The library subscribes to many newspapers, and there is always a queue in the morning to be the first in to claim today's edition. What do you think? Do newspapers have a future? We'd love to know what you think.

15 April, 2009

Games valuable learning tool

Queuing for the wii at Lalor library

Computer games can be a valuable learning tool according to education experts quoted in an article in The Age on Thursday 9 April. The article quotes Patricia and Don Edgar, authorities on children's media, education and social trends, who wrote a paper for the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority in which they argue that there is growing evidence that games are effective and valuable learning tools.

Lalor library was highlighted in the article and Felicity Macchion, the Branch Manager, has spoken at a symposium on computer games held at the State Library of Victoria recently. Lalor library is doing a great job encouraging young people into the library who may not otherwise come. The monthly games night featuring wii games and computer games is further enhanced by the provision of pizza and coke and is proving very popular. The library service is introducing wiis into more branches and the latest is Watsonia.

06 April, 2009

Youth Week

Youth Week was celebrated with enthusiasm at Thomastown and Watsonia libraries on the weekend. The library partnered with youth workers from Whittlesea and Banyule Councils and local Freeza groups to present bands, singers, comedians and even a poet at events at the library.

Watsonia library was humming especially when headline group Frankie wants out played, a 9 piece band who play contemporary swing - they are fabulous! We will be posting a video onto our Myspace page soon.

Watsonia library have had a mini makeover and we have installed a wii in the new teenage area and Foxtel cable tv in the new lounge area that will be available for news stations, music and video and sports. We hope our users like it!

Thomastown library has had ethnic cable tv for some time now and is proving popular with different groups.

Lalor is proving particularly popular with young people since we introduced wiis there and regular games evenings on Friday night with pizza and coke have encouraged more interest.
Installing screens, games and tvs is our way of showing that education, learning, recreation and culture can come in all different kinds of media and are all equally appropriate in a public library. We hope you agree!

Youth Week at Yarra Plenty

Youth Week was celebrated with enthusiasm at Thomastown and Watsonia libraries on the weekend. The library partnered with youth workers from Whittlesea and Banyule Councils and local Freeza groups to present bands, singers, comedians and even a poet at events at the library.

Watsonia library was humming especially when headline group Frankie wants out played, a 9 piece band who play contemporary swing - they are fabulous! We will be posting a video onto our Myspace page soon.
Watsonia library have had a mini makeover and we have installed a wii in the new teenage area and Foxtel cable tv in the new lounge area that will be available for news stations, music and video and sports. We hope our users like it!
Thomastown library has had ethnic cable tv for some time now and is proving popular with different groups.
Lalor is proving particularly popular with young people since we introduced wiis there and regular games evenings on Friday night with pizza and coke have encouraged more interest.
Installing screens, games and tvs is our way of showing that education, learning, recreation and culture can come in all different kinds of media and are all equally appropriate in a public library. We hope you agree!

30 March, 2009

Disability Access Plan

NEAMI created a beautiful mosaic for the Lalor Library last year and are now working on another project for Watsonia library.

The Library Service recently commissioned Access Audits Australia (AAA) to undertake the development of a Disability Action Plan for the organisation and the Library Board adopted the Plan at its last meeting. The DAP responds to the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and provide a framework for ensuring equitable access to library buildings, services, communication systems and employment for all library users and staff. Community Consultative forums have been facilitated, one in each municipality. AAA conducted a staff forum to raise awareness of access issues and responsibilities and to identify issues to be addressed in the Action Plan. The Plan is available on the library's website.

The Action Plan focuses on achievable outcomes for the library service and concentrates on access outcomes rather than disability issues. It provides a framework for moving forward in addressing access issues relevant to each area of the library.

The DAP provides the framework for the Library to address disability access issues across all areas of library responsibility and operations and to support it in meeting its requirements under the DDA. The DAP will assist YPRL in removing access barriers and providing equity of access to services, facilities and employment for all people, and is designed to ensure that the Library’s practices are proactive in relation to meeting the needs of people with disabilities, their carers and associates, and that services and facilities will be accessible to all.

The DAP document:

  • Identifies access barriers to YPRL
  • Outlines actions to remove barriers
  • Includes priorities for actions
  • Identifies who has responsibility for ensuring actions are completed
  • Outlines how monitoring, reviewing and evaluating of the DAP will occur
If you have any access issues we would like to hear from you, either commenting on the blog or emailing ceo@yprl.vic.gov.au

23 March, 2009

Pay your library fees online

Last week we implemented a new service for borrowers, you can now pay your library fees online. On our first day we had over 20 people who did just this. We are pleased to be able to offer this option, as sometimes a card can be blocked because of a fee that is owed, and this way it can be cleared straight away, allowing holds to be placed and items renewed (as long as they aren't required by someone else or haven't been renewed already.)

Fees and charges are necessary for the library - for two reasons. First, to encourage people to bring items back on time so others may use them. Our materials go out on average 7 times a year (cds and dvds go out 15.4 times and some children's books over 12 times) and we want to keep them circulating. Second, it is a revenue stream for the library that assists us provide services. We charge for materials that are returned late and for lost cards and items. We don't charge for holds, though many libraries do. However we would much rather have the items back on time than the money. That is why if you have an email account, we remind you before the date due that your items should be returned or renewed. You can renew online, on the automated phone line 24/7 on 9401 0777 or by phone on 9401 0750.

Soon we will be implementing a new management system for printing in the library that will be more streamlined and will allow printing on the new multifuctional devices (fancy photocopiers) from the public pcs and will allow stored value on your library card. This will all be integrated with online payments and pc management. It will make printing very much easier for our customers.

Let us know what you think about our new systems - we'd love to hear from you.

18 March, 2009

Musings on 2 different themes

Samuel Dundas as Don Giovanni
(credit - http://onstagemelbourne.blogspot.com/2009/03/review-don-giovanni-victorian-opera.html)

Last Saturday night I went to the opera to see Don Giovanni - this is only the second opera I have ever been to, and I enjoyed it very much. The Victorian State Opera is four years old now and building a repetoire and growing young musicians - and this is not just words. The conductor was Nicholas Carter, who has was accepted into the Developing Artist Program with Victorian Opera in 2006, and the lead role of Don Giovanni was performed by Samuel Dundas, a 24 year old singer. The opera company is creating a new sort of company - one that encourages partnerships, takes operas out to the suburbs and regional Victoria and who is engaging a new audience for opera through such programs as sing your own opera community events, Discover Opera programs hosted by Richard Gill, of Operatunity fame, and programs designed for schools.

It got me thinking about how we continually need to reinvent ourselves, offer programs and services that will appeal to our audience and think of ways to grow that audience by doing new and different things. When organisations do this, there is energy and a sense of excitement.

The other quite unrelated musing was about Australia's Public Lending Right. We are one of only 25 countries in the world that compensates its authors for public and educational libraries holding their works - the scheme was introduced in the 1980s. I have recently joined the PLR Committee, which has responsibility under the PLR Act for determining the eligibility of claimants, the amount of payment to a claimant, approving payments under the scheme, and providing recommendations and advice to the Minister about the operation of the scheme and the Act. Lending Rights is a very important part of building our cultural heritage and supporting the enrichment of Australian culture by encouraging the growth and development of Australian writing and publishing.

So my musings were that we are fortunate to have organisations such as this to encourage our cultural life and that the Victorian Opera is really hitting the mark in building new audiences and ensuring their relevance to contemporary society.

10 March, 2009

libraries transform communities in the West

Beth Jefferson from Bibliocommons speaks at the conference

Last week I attended the LocLib 2009 Biennial Conference in Perth. The theme was libraries transform communities and there were over 200 participants. I presented 2 papers, one on integrating Web 2.0 and a keynote on the Great Public Library Tour.

The opening speaker was Beth Jefferson from Bibliocommons in Canada, who spoke about how we can build online communities in the same way we build real communities. She has developed an online public access catalogue where people can contribute reading lists, tag items and rate and review titles. For many people it can be the equivalent of browsing the shelves and return trolleys. One of Beth's main points was that its no good anymore libraries just being "free" as the cost of information becomes less and less - we are losing that point of difference. We need to add our special skills and build on the trusted brand we have to enhance people's online experience. She said that if all the public library catalogue hits in Nth America were added together this would put them in the top 10 of websites. But we need to work together and standardise the experience for people and give them the opportunity to interact and participate in the catalogue. It's about putting the public library at the centre of the online community, just as they are offline.

The other speaker that I was particularly impressed with was an architect, Josh Byrne, who described how the Peppermint Grove, Cottesloe and Mosman Park Councils have approached the development of a new library, community centre and council offices as an opportunity to create a building that is totally self sufficient using leading edge environmental and sustainable initiatives. As well as being beautiful and functional, the building will act as a educational and learning tool on sustainable architecture and building.

Perth was beautiful, hot and sunny - but I've had enough of hot and was pleased to get back to cool, dampish Melbourne!! I think most people who have endured our summer would say the same. Finally autumn is here and we hope lots and lots of rain.

03 March, 2009

Library industry unites for disaster recovery

The library industry has united to appoint a disaster recovery support officer to coordinate its response to disasters such as floods and bushfires.

Jane Grace, currently Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service outreach manager, will take up the position of acting ALIA disaster recovery project manager immediately to ensure that appropriate support is provided to bushfire families and wider communities as soon as possible.

Grace, who will also be working with Queensland colleagues on requirements for their flood affected areas said in an ALIA issued press release that ‘she was very pleased to be able to take up this interim position to coordinate immediate support and future models and information tools to support communities to get back on track.’

‘People are often well-meaning, but getting the needs and requirements right for
the people on the ground is our aim. Libraries really are providing an amazing service in these difficult times and making a difference in people’s lives,’ she added.

Representatives from the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), Public Libraries Victoria Network, the State Library of Victoria, school libraries and school library associations, public libraries in the bushfire region, the Victorian Government and the book industry met at the State Library of Victoria last Friday so they could create a united assistance to disaster-affected areas.

The meeting, attended by more than 25 people agreed to call on all Australian libraries and library organisations to support and contribute towards the position of ALIA Disaster Recovery Project manager.

Article from Australian Library News
26 February 2009 Issue 362
(ABN: 87 082 599 102)

23 February, 2009

Reliance on technology

As I write this, our server is down, its been playing up for a week now, and finally we are getting moved over to another one. And the reliance we have on technology is highlighted. I am composing this post with pen and paper, an increasingly unusual way for me to write. Once we are back up I will type it into the blog and all will feel right again.

It is hard to imagine that ithas only been in the last 10 - 12 years that electronic communication was introduced into Australian workplaces. I have been fortunate to work in progressive organisations where the uptake was timely. Without access to email many people feel quite isolated (I most definitely include myself in this group!) I have a Blackberry that keeps me online most of my waking hours - and I'm not sure this is a good thing, but it's the way it is.

Belonging to the baby boomer generation I still phone my mum - but increasingly my communication with the rest of the family is via sms or facebook. I like this short, more frequent contact. The same happens with professional colleagues - quick emails to stay in touch, or to swap information and the use of real time chat. And now contact with our users is easier too, as they can quickly send us an email letting us know of issues they may be having or to compliment us on something. This blog is another way of communicating with borrowers and we love to get your comments.

So now the system is back up again - and life gets back to normal!

17 February, 2009

A week of shock and sadness

It has been a sombre week as the stories of the devastating fires became known and there has been a great outpouring from all around the country with offers of assistance and aid. The Relief Centres have been overwhelmed with the generosity of the community.

The Library has had some of our staff working at the Diamond Creek centre and there is an ongoing commitment to do whatever we can. We have a book drive happening at our branches, where people can donate books which we will distribute to individuals and schools, and those that are not directly distributed will be sold to raise funds for the Red Cross bushfire appeal. We are also participating in a co ordinated response to distribute books donated by publishers and the book industry.

Our mobile libraries are attending where they can, although access is still restricted to some sites. We particularly feel for our Murrindindi colleagues, who are amongst the worst affected. Their libraries are still standing and are being used as community centres.

As the rebuilding starts, we will be providing whatever services and support we are able to.

09 February, 2009

Horrifying bushfires

Here at Yarra Plenty we are shocked and horrified by the devastating bushfires that have ripped through Victoria. Parts of our region, especially in the Shire of Nillumbik, have been badly affected, and our partners at Murrindindi have had terrible losses and are still facing danger.

Our hearts go out to all those who have lost family, friends, pets, stock, houses. Those of you who were not in Victoria on Saturday could not have any comprehension of the appalling heat and wind - the temperature reached 47 and a hot northerly wind was gusting at over 50 km in the morning. I drove down to Gippsland in the morning and although there was not much smoke around then, by early afternoon it was obvious there were very serious fires in many places. The cool change that came through around 5.30 in Melbourne merely exacebated the fires as they swung around in a completely different direction. The change reached Maffra around 10pm - outside there was ash and black debris blowing in. Driving back to Melbourne yesterday I was fortunate that the highway had been opened by the time I got to Warragul. There was a lot of smoke, though not so much sign of fires from the highway.

The news keeps coming of more loss - it is hard to comprehend.

For those who have been affected, please let us know if we can do anything to help you. We are very conscious that the last thing you will want to be worrying about is your library books. If you would like to email us at ypmail@yprl.vic.gov.au , or call us on 9401 0750, or let your local branch know, we will manage that for you. We are intending that the Mobile Library will go out to those townships that it can get to - and will post that information on our website each day until the mobile is back to normal.

02 February, 2009

ebooks gaining favour

A report in the Salt Lake City Tribune describes the growing popularity of ebook readers

The high-tech gadgets are still a novelty, but they appear to be taking hold. Already, reading newspapers on a smart phone isn't such a big deal anymore, so these book readers appear to be the next logical step in how new technology can change our reading experiences. Driven by sales of the Kindle, the most iconic of the devices, these hand-held book readers are larger than an iPhone and, with adjustable font sizes, can make reading text easier. Made by Amazon and touted by Oprah Winfrey, the Kindle showed up on several holiday shopping guides and is one of the few products this season that appeared to be recession-proof. Demand for the $359 device has been high, and it is sold out until February.
I brought back a Rocket eReader from the US in June 2000 - they were very new then and I had rather more problems buying one than I had imagined. However they grabbed our imagination at Brisbane City Council, and we purchased 20 of them for the opening of the Toowong Branch in March 2001. They were certainly a great novelty, and easy enough to use, but we had a lot of problems getting the content for them. Yarra Plenty also bought one to familiarise staff with. However, the end came when the website we were downloading the titles from just disappeared.

The Kindle reader, the Iliad and Sony’s reader are some of the new offerings on the market. It was a pleasant surprise to experience the quality of the screen and the ease of using an Iliad, compared with the first generation e-book readers. The higher quality screens and print resolution make it a much more viable proposition. It seems that the ebook may indeed be taking off.

However, before we get too excited, we need to be aware that the Kindle is not available in Australia and is unlikely to be in the near future - this is from the Amazon site:

"At this time, we are unable to offer the Amazon Kindle and associated digitalcontent from the Kindle Store to our international customers due to import/export laws and other restrictions. When you place your order for an Amazon Kindle, both the billing address for the payment method and the shipping address for the delivery must be recognized by our systems as valid U.S. addresses. To successfully purchase digital content from the Amazon Kindle Store, the 1-Click payment method listed on the Manage Your Kindle page must be a credit or debit card issued by a U.S. Bank with a U.S. billing address. We value our international customers and hope to make Kindle available internationally in the future."
The library service does have a growing collection of audio books, music and videos including best sellers and new releases are able to be downloaded from the library's customised website. Some of the authors available are Garrison Keillor, Ian McEwan and Dean Koontz. Classical music, feature films, movie classics, concert videos and other popular materials are also available. Check it out!

Have you had any experience with ebooks? What do you think the future of them is? Let me know!

28 January, 2009

Fiction Reading Increases for Adults

The "Oprah" effect is credited with an increase in fiction reading

A report in the New York Times recently gives the perhaps surprising news that fiction reading has increased for adults.

After years of bemoaning the decline of a literary culture in the United States, the National Endowment for the Arts says in a report that it now believes a quarter-century of precipitous decline in fiction reading has reversed.

The report, “Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy,” being released Monday, is based on data from “The Survey of Public Participation in the Arts” conducted by the the US Census Bureau in 2008. Among its chief findings is that for the first time since 1982, when the bureau began collecting such data, the proportion of adults 18 and older who said they had read at least one novel, short story, poem or play in the previous 12 months has risen.

The increase has been attributed to community reading programs, such as the One Book One City programs, to the Oprah Winfrey’s book club, the huge popularity of book series like “Harry Potter” and Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight,” as well as the individual efforts of teachers, librarians, parents and civic leaders to create “a buzz around literature that’s getting people to read more in whatever medium.”

We have experienced a similar growth in our fiction borrowings, between 2007 & 2008 there was a 5% increase at our libraries. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in tough economic times people use public libraries more and this will also translate to more fiction borrowing and reading.

Reading a novel is a wonderful way to experience someone else's life, to get insights into how others think and behave. My current bedside reading is a Henning Mankell book, a Swedish detective story that features Kurt Wallandar, who solves murders around Ystad. There's something cooling about reading a novel set in cold, foggy, wet Sweden on a hot Melbourne night!

If you would like to share your bedside reading we are launching a new program soon that will be running at all libraries. It is an ongoing bookchat program designed to encourage and create opportunities for people to share reading experiences. Unlike the traditional Bookgroup format, Bedside Reads is designed for people who wish to share what they are currently reading without having to read a set book. We will be putting all the details on our Yarra Plenty Reads when the program starts in February.

Are you reading more fiction? Let us know!

21 January, 2009

Welcome to our new Board members

Cr Jenny Mulholland at Rosanna Library last year

Last week it was my pleasure to show our new Board members around the region. We visited all the libraries as well as Library Support Services. The main comment was how different each branch is and how well each reflects its own community, through its architecture, collections and programs and services offered.

Cr Jenny Mulholland is the new representative for Banyule. Jenny has been a councillor for 9 years and has always had a keen interest in the library service. She has also been involved in library programs, and is quite a storyteller!

Cr Chris Chapple and Cr Lewis Brock are the two Nillumbik representatives. Both these councillors were first elected in November and will bring a fresh perspective to the Library Board.

Our new representatives join Cr Anthony Carbines from Banyule, the most recent Chairperson, and two Councillors from Whittlesea, who have not yet been appointed.

The first meeting of the new Board will be held on February 19.

12 January, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all, already things seem to be settling down after our Christmas and New Year break. Of course our libraries have been open and I was particularly impressed with how busy Lalor Branch was when I visited last week. There are plenty of activities on during the holidays for the children, as well as adult programs and various summer reading programs too for adults and children.

The Summer Read runs through to the end of February.

The summer read invites you to take a trip through the pages of 20 books either set in Victoria or written by authors who call Victoria home. This summer, remove yourself from your hectic life and relax between the covers of a book. Vote for your favourite to go into the draw to win some fabulous prizes.

For more details visit slv.vic.gov.au/goto/summer-read
As part of the Summer Read Yarra Plenty Reads are hosting author events with:
Peter Steele, Tuesday 17 February, Watsonia Library, 6.30pm
Alice Pung, Monday 23 February, Mill Park Library, 6.30pm

Summer Reading Club for kids is also in full swing, and there are over 1,100 kids signed up to read books and have the opportunity to win great prizes. And the activities are great! check them out.