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.
State Library of Victoria
As a Melbournian, I have visited the State Library of Victoria (SLV) many times, as a student doing research, as a mum taking her son for a visit, as a book lover attending the Children’s Book Festival and as a student of Library and Information Services. I have always valued the library’s history and role in providing public access to its beautiful spaces and extraordinary collections. I knew about some of the programs and services the library offered, particularly with regard to education and online learning. However, I was completely unaware of the library’s role in supporting public libraries throughout Victoria. I was fascinated to learn about the library’s partnerships and contributions to the Victorian Public Library network and the library’s involvement in research projects like “Libraries Building Communities” and publication of reports like “Victorian Public Libraries 2030”. I loved listening to how the SLV is helping regional and metropolitan libraries deliver improved library services to Victorian communities and how, through cooperation, collaboration, training, joint projects and advocacy the SLV is building a powerful public library network. The discussion prompted me to think about the importance of partnerships and connection with other libraries. What sort of relationships could I encourage or foster as a teacher librarian working in schools? The term “joint use library” was new to me. Finding out that Carolyn Springs Public Library is utilised as the local secondary school’s library (and that the principal of the school resides there) was surprising yet it inspired me to think about more sharing space and resources, particularly when funding is limited. School libraries that have limited services and collections, particularly online resources could make connections with local library services to improve their service and facilitate access to resources. Teacher librarians could encourage students and staff to become members of their state and local library or mutual benefit, collaborate with local libraries on joint projects and events.
State Library of Victoria
The Age Library
Visiting The Age Library strengthened my understanding of the vitality and relevance of the public library service, particularly in marginalised communities. It was inspiring to see such a busy, well used library that catered for such a diverse and ever changing community. Working in private school education, it was powerful to be reminded of the core purpose of libraries – free & equitable access to information facilities, technology, resources and services. Hume Libraries are providing excellent services to their patrons. Like most government agencies, Hume Libraries develop, publish and follow a detailed strategic plan and have done so in the document “Learning Together 2030”. I was interested to learn that the library service is required by Hume City Council to continually evaluate its service and has recently published a review entitled “Being the Best We can”. This document outlines certain challenges and areas for development like community outreach, promotion of library services, and use of social media and how to best employ evidence based practice. School libraries are often required to align with their school’s mission and provide statements that document their role, vision and purpose. It is important to make these documents available to all stakeholders. As a teacher librarian it is necessary to rationalise and be accountable for many aspects of school library services, facilities, programs and budget, therefore it is important to develop policies and strategic plans that are forward thinking and purposeful; that will guide and outline their delivery of services to the school community. It was helpful to make these connections about justification, responsibility and accountability of services. In schools, we also aim to provide pertinent and excellent services and programs to our school community. I needed to be reminded that it is important for a library not to remain static but to constantly review its practises and services to best fulfil its purpose.