Thursday, 3 January 2013

Holiday Reading

I'm not sure whether you're like me regarding professional reading; I often come across articles, reports and interesting information, but am usually too busy to absorb it all during the hurley-burly of the working year.  So I often make a pile of material in my office, and have a metaphorical pile of URLs and other online info that I've gleaned, and then use some of the quieter time when many are on leave over Christmas/New Year to dig into this pile.

My interests are eclectic, so there is always a diverse array of interesting material to read. But I thought I would just share a bit of the public library stuff that I have collected in case you have a quiet moment to look at some relevant professional information.

Some immediately relevant public library documents have come out of Queensland and Victoria over the last 3 months.

Queensland published The Library Dividend: a guide to the socio-economic value of Queensland's public libraries in September. The summary report can be found here. And there is an interesting online article from the local paper here with some public comment/debate.  I can't find the main report online, but have a hard copy that I've been wading through.

This report uses independent economists and a methodology which is often employed in the services area to attempt to identify the value of service provision.  Applying this approach in a library context makes sense and helps libraries to argue their value to people who need to be convinced by an economic argument.

The Queensland report is based on the methodology and approach that was employed in the Victorian public library network for their 2011 report Dollars, Sense and Public Libraries: The landmark study of the socio-economic value of Victorian public libraries, which can be found here.

The Victorians have continued to be prolific publishers of research into their library service, with a very recent report called Internet and PC usage in Victorian public libraries just being released.  The reports can be found here.

I really like the way that the Victorians publish differing versions of the same report, focusing on different audiences.  For example this Internet use report comes in 3 versions; a 2 page overview/flyer, a Summary Report and a Technical Report.  For those with a professional interest the technical report is comprehensive and has lots of data, while the other reports are useful to share with busy people who may have a passing interest in the information.

And the most ambitious work currently underway in Victoria is their Tomorrow's Library project.  This is being undertaken by their Ministerial Advisory Council on Public Libraries.  It is intended to run for 2 years, and include considerable research and consultation before settling on a range of new strategic directions for the sector.

Information about the process being used and the reports published to date can be found here. A 12 page, easy to read summary report can be found here.  I would strongly recommend that you take a look at this report.

Interestingly the Ministerial Advisory Council visited South Australia to look at what we're doing, and then ensured that the consultants that they engaged also returned to SA to take a more indepth look. The visitors were clearly impressed with what our network is doing here, as many of the recommendations for the future in Victoria on page 9 read strikingly like what we're doing here now. (Increased access to council owned collections, One Card, One LMS, Single discovery layer, Best value procurement options, single digital download platform, Common processing and cataloguing standards, State-wide Community Languages collection, Statewide marketing strategy and so on).  I think that this is a feather in the cap of the network, councils and the Libraries Board in SA which have collectively driven the vision and implementation of these features in our network over many years.

I would also note that they have other recommendations which we should examine to see whether some of these are also relevant to our future.  For example I had talked to the consultants about Statewide RFID & they recommend that this is adopted in Victoria. And there are other recommendations that do have considerable merit.

These recommendations will be subject to considerable local debate and consultation, so it will be interesting to see what the final directions will be.

So - happy reading & if you have any comments about what you read I'd be happy to host them on this post.