ETL 507 Study Visit – Reflection Day 4

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East Melbourne Library

In the introduction to East Melbourne Library I was surprised to learn that Melbourne Library Service (MLS) was a relatively new initiative of Melbourne City Council and that the MLS Strategic Plan (2008-2018) was established to meet the needs of a rapidly changing and growing city community. I learned that the aim of MLS is to provide state-of-the-art, public access, “community hubs” for City of Melbourne residents, students, workers and visitors. There are 6 libraries in the service and each branch is uniquely designed to meet the varied needs of its local and sometimes transient community. Of the 6 libraries, astonishingly, 3 have opened in the past 4 years due to community growth and development whereas East Melbourne Library opened due to the local Historical Society’s need for a community space. Our host discussed the challenges associated with the building and design of each new library and highlighted the importance of professional and community consultation. Library design can have an enormous impact on library services and it was useful to hear that some designs and ideas were successful and others not, particularly in the case of East Melbourne which is designed to be an ecologically sustainable space. I liked hearing that library teams were learning from taking risks as well as listening to and responding to client needs and feedback. This is relevant to school libraries where current pedagogy has prompted new ideas and thinking about library spaces and design. In many cases, school libraries are considered to be the learning hub of the school community. Like public libraries, school libraries must not remain static, they must continue to be innovative and responsive to the needs of users. For example, like City Library, school libraries may need to prioritise space over unused collections. As a teacher librarian it was important to make this connection. The discussion also developed my understanding of the necessity of effective strategic planning for library change and development, particularly with regard to collections and space.

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