Thursday, July 30, 2009

***Australian Public Libraries Summit Update****

The inaugural Australian Public Libraries Summit was held in Canberra on Thursday 16 July 2009 (10am to 4pm) at the National Library of Australia. The Summit was organised by ALIA (the Australian Libraries and Information Association). I represented PLM at the Summit.

Summary comments of the Summit are presented below. I will report fully on the Summit at the 31 July 2009 PLM Quarterly General Meeting.

The goals of the Summit:

* To develop a stronger relationship with the Federal Government in achieving its agendas in a range of portfolios. Ideally, the country's 1,522 public libraries will be regarded as 'national champions' advancing social, educational, cultural, broadband and digital programs and policies.
* To engage with all three levels of government to develop a framework that supports libraries across Australia to better deliver services to their communities especially in disadvantaged and remote areas advance COAG (Coalition of Australian Governments) and the Social Inclusion reform agendas.
* There were ~40 delegates at the Summit. Please refer to the PLM website PLM Websiteand "Submissions" page for PLM's Summit Submission, the Summit Program and Papers, and the Summit Delegates list.
* Senator Ursula Stephens (Federal Government) opened the Summit. Senator Stephens is the Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and Parliamentary Secretary for the Voluntary Sector.
* Jan Fullerton, Director General of the National Library of Australia welcomed delegates, and in her opening remarks, commented directly to Senator Stephens that "the only public library in Australia directly funded by the Federal Govt is the National library....this must change".
O* ther than the Summit Opening presence of Senator Ursula Stephens, there was no presence of any current Federal Government or State/Territory Government politicians.
* Other delegates present at the Summit included Australia's State Librarians (eg Regina Sutton, CEO SLNSW), Australian Government Department representatives eg Policy Advisers, socially oriented groups eg Philanthropy Australia and Adult Learning Australia, and major vendors eg OCLC and NEC Australia (NEC is involved with the Australian Internet Kiosk project).

In the morning session, there was a series of presentations (please refer to the Summit Program).

In the afternoon session, there were small group workshops that focussed on "continued or new, nationally focussed public library sector initiatives/projects/programs associated with the themes of":

* Children, early reading and a literate Australia
* Encouraging the digital economy and digital citizenship
* Social inclusion and community partnerships – safety, fairness, participation
* Health and ageing.
* There was also a small group working on ideas for the National Framework for Australia's Public Library Sector.

The critical next step following the Summit is the development and implementation of the Strategic National Framework for Australia's Public Library Sector:

* A vision, goals and outcomes for the sector
* Key stakeholders and stakeholder engagement and management strategies, including strategies to engage all three levels of government, and with the state and territory public library sectors
* Major nationally focussed public library sector projects/initiatives/programs
* Identification and pursuit of sustainable funding sources for the sector
* Relevant timelines to develop and implement the Framework and for all projects/initiatives/programs
* The Framework's governance and review processes.

Robert McEntyre
Executive Director
Public Libraries NSW Metropolitan Association (PLM)

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