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!!