Monday, April 19, 2010

Keith Richards wanted to be a Librarian!

After decades partying in a haze of alcohol and drugs, Richards will tell in his coming autobiography, entitled Life, that he has been quietly nurturing his inner bookworm.

As a child growing up in the post-war austerity of 1950s London, he found refuge in books before he discovered the blues.

He has declared: "When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is a great equaliser."

Friday, April 16, 2010

'Future library' goes on display in Abu Dhabi

4 March 2010

The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage is modernising the emirate’s library service with the introduction of book vending machines.

ABU DHABI They will be places to borrow books and CDs, as well as catch up on the internet. But that is where the resemblance to the traditional library will end.

Abu Dhabi’s future libraries are likely to feature 24-hour, self-service facilities with vending machines stocked with books, CDs and DVDs, allowing people to take out and return them any time of the day or night.

There will also be Playstations and Xbox consoles for teenagers to play video games, as well as “lifestyle zones” where visitors can relax and listen to a CD or audio book.

The “future library” was on show at the 20th Abu Dhabi International Book Fair yesterday and is, according to Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach), a concept heralding “a new generation in libraries”.

Adach said the new libraries would use cutting-edge technologies and gadgets. Books, CDs and DVDs will be available in vending machines using radio frequency identification technology.

Juma’a al Qubaisi, the director of the National Library, said the new system “will spark the attention of all in Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates”.

A range of materials will be available to library users, including periodicals, computer games, eBooks and audio books.

The project will be on display all week at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Students Use Wikipedia Early and Often

By Mary Helen Miller, March 16, 2010, The Chronicle of Higher Education

More than half of college students frequently or always consult Wikipedia for course-related research, according to a report published in First Monday, an online, peer-reviewed journal. Only 22 percent of respondents to the survey said they rarely or never use Wikipedia. The study is based on responses from 2,318 students and qualitative data from 86 who participated in focus groups.

The most common reason that students reported using Wikipedia was to obtain background information or a summary about a topic and to get started with research. Only 16 percent of survey respondents said they used Wikipedia because of its wiki capabilities. Students were far more likely to use Wikipedia at the very beginning or near the beginning of research than at the end of the process.

The study also examined which students were most likely to use Wikipedia. Those majoring in architecture, engineering, or science were likelier than others to do so. The strongest predictor was the use of Google for course-related research. In addition, students at two-year colleges were less likely than those at four-year colleges to use Wikipedia.

And students who reported consulting with librarians were less likely to use Wikipedia than other students were.

Full report:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Boomers leading the e-book revolution

By Deborah Cornwall ABC news

Baby boomers are among the earliest and most fervent e-book enthusiasts. (AFP: Mario Tama)

Middle-aged women have astonised the publishing industry by leading the demand in the rapidly expanding e-book market.

Sydney theatre nurse Candace Gray, 48, was among the first to get an Amazon e-book reader, the Kindle, when it was released in Australia last year.

It was a gift from her husband in the hope it might drag her into the digital age.

"I have a phone with a camera - I never even use it," she said.

"I don't know how to Skype, I don't know how to blog ... but once I found out what I could do with this Kindle, I just couldn't put it down."

Ms Gray says the e-reader has changed the way she reads. She now dips into a book, in shorter bites, throughout the day.

"It's like having a bookstore in the palm of your hand," she said. "I don't watch television anymore."

According to Michael Tamblyn, VP of content and sales with the Canadian digital publisher Kobo, Mrs Gray is the typical of the new e-reader's demographic - the very group that was expected to fiercely resist giving up their hard copies.

"Who would have ever thought aging, squinting boomers would drive a new market for e-books?" he said.

Mr Tamblyn says this is just one of several surprising early trends in the e-book revolution.

"It's amazing where e-books are going. We are delivering bodice rippers in Iran ...we are delivering Pride and Prejudice into Afghanistan," he said.

Sales of e-book are expected to go vertical with the global release of Apple's much-hyped Ipad next month.

After years of stalled negotiations with digital book wholesalers like Amazon, publishers are now scrambling to go online because, like the music industry before them, they now have just two choices: go digital or dive.

While digital books currently make up between 6 to 7 per cent of the market in the United states and Britain, futurist and digital-content specialist, Mark Pesce, predicts that by the year 2020, about 50 per cent of all book sales will be digital.

More than half of e-book sales are made within the first 24 hours of the book's release - sales that are lost forever if publishers delay digital release to try and sell their hardbacks first at a premium price.

Stephen Page, the CEO of England's literary publishing house Faber and Faber, says while the paperback is not about to disappear any time soon, readers increasingly want a choice.

"To think that actually making digital books is about having three hairy people in a basement doing another thing called digital, while the rest of us carry on with the beautiful business of sewing and binding our books, that is an absolutely impossible universe," he said.

Long way to go

But for all the talk about the brave new world of the e-book, the CEO of Melbourne University Publishing, Louise Adler, says online book sellers still have a long way to go to meet the needs and wants of readers.

Ms Adler says books available in digital format are still largely limited to best sellers and pot boilers, with the market squarely aimed at an American audience.

"If you are a reader of romance or historical novels you might find it satisfactory but in the main, I find it rather disappointing that most contemporary fiction and non-fiction is not available," she said.

Ms Adler says the problem is partly due to publishers' resistance to the world's biggest digital-book seller, Amazon, and its attempts to cap the price of all e-books below $US10.

But she says online retailers have also failed to understand the complexity of the publishing business and meet the expectations of more sophisticated international readers.

"If I want to see a blurb for a book, if I want to see what I am buying, you are probably going to get a blurb of about two sentences," Ms Adler said.

"It's actually a very impoverished reading experience, when everything tells us readers are looking for a more enriched experience.

"It will be who has control of the content, not the reading device, that will determine the winners in this race."

Apple's Ipad is now poised to take on Amazon's Kindle, with internet giant Google snapping at their heels.

But Ms Adler says while publishing empires may rise and fall in this latest digital face off, there will always be a place for the humble paperback.

"I think that there are books you're going to want to love and to have and to hold and have in your library, and I think that feeling is never going to go away," she said.

Michael Tamblyn agrees.

"We've had books longer than we've had forks," he said.

"Books should not become more sterile or less engaging if we do this properly."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The e-book revolution is coming to a screen near you

CHARLOTTE HARPER web editor of The Canberra Times
March 24, 2010

The release of Apple's iPad and thousands of iPhone apps is forcing Australian publishers to quickly develop their publishing strategies to stay in the burgeoning market.
Beatrix Potter's bunnies must be hopping with excitement. Her classic illustrated children's books have been adapted for television, film and even ballet.

Now Australian developer LoL Software is creating iPhone apps for a dozen of the books for the British arm of Penguin Books.

e-books on the Apple iPad.

Peter Rabbit and friends will be available to Apple iPhone and iPod Touch users later this month.

Interactive digital applications, or apps, of Dr Seuss's The Cat in the Hat, Rachael Bermingham and Kim McCosker's 4 Ingredients (another LoL creation), The Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Guide, and Hilary Mantel's Booker Prize-winning novel Wolf Hall are already on sale.

There were more than 27,000 book apps in Apple's App Store at last count, some 2000 more than there are game apps, according to mobile advertisement business Mobclix. The app store generated more than $US250 million ($A272 million) in revenue last December alone.

It's no wonder software developers are busily tweaking iPhone apps or developing new, graphically rich purpose-built products for Apple's much-hyped iPad tablet device.

This uber-gadget is exercise book-sized, looks like a blown-up iPhone, and will land in Australia in late April.

Meanwhile, Amazon's Kindle, a handheld device for reading mainly text-based books and media, has been here since late last year. Its "e-ink" technology means the sensation of reading on a pixelated screen can become a thing of the past, and the range of novels available through has given the device mainstream appeal. "Disposable" genres like romance, crime and fantasy have proven particularly popular.

Forming a digital strategy
Despite all of this, many book publishers in this country have yet to formulate a digital strategy.
At a talkfest on the subject last month, Federal Innovation Minister Kim Carr announced a Book Industry Strategy Group to look at how retailers, publishers, agents and authors can make the most of new technologies.

The working group is due to report back within a year, but is that soon enough when technologies, rookie app developers and the big international operators such as Amazon, Apple and Google, with its Google Editions e-book retail plan, are moving at such a pace?

Australia Council for the Arts chief executive Kathy Keele made her feelings on the matter clear at the same event last month, saying sales of e-books now constitute an estimated 5 to 6 per cent of the book market in the United States.

"Like many Australian consumers I excitedly opened my Kindle recently, ready to embrace this brave new world of e-books," she said.

"My excitement dropped ... once I realised that there wasn't, yet, a great deal of Australian books out there."

So why are some book publishers still working out e-book strategies?

Surely the success of Apple's iTunes store in the music sphere gave some inkling of what was to come?

Those who had for some years invested in e-publishing programs for their academic titles, such as Allen & Unwin and Macmillan, were well positioned to jump when the general reader did. But they didn't know how or when they would need to.

The Kindle had been a huge success in the US, but Amazon had given no indication as to when the device would reach Australia.

Perhaps spurred into action by the growing buzz about the iPad and take-up of free e-reader apps for the iPhone such as Stanza, it announced a snap international launch last October.

Amazon had the delivery method (via 3G, the third generation wireless technology most new mobile phones use today), pricing structure (around $A2.18 for classics that are out of copyright and $A10.87 for new books) and billing system (though Apple's iTunes and App stores make it even easier for us to shop).

But territorial rights have prevented Australian Kindle users from purchasing much other than out-of-copyright titles or those for which no local publisher owns the rights.

A group of e-publishing pioneers had been planning last month's sold out Digital Revolution: Publishing in the 21st Century symposium for a year in a bid to address such issues.

Allen & Unwin academic and digital publishing director Elizabeth Weiss, Macmillan digital strategy manager Victoria Nash, co-founder and director of Spinifex Press Susan Hawthorne, digital publishing consultant Anna Maguire, Australian Publishers Association industry professional development manager Dee Read and program officer at the Literature Board of the Australia Council Nicola Evans formed the Australian Publishers Association's Digital Publishing Training Steering Group, a body to ensure our industry wasn't left behind.

Their colleagues and competitors were keen to hear what they, and their handpicked guests had to say. They wanted to know which books they should publish digitally, when and in what form, where they should sell them, how much they should charge, and what royalty they should pay their authors.

Weiss says the technology giants are each trying very hard to dominate in the e-book market in divergent and contradictory ways.

"It's challenging for the book publishing industry to establish sensible commercial relationships with them so that publishers can sustain their businesses and continue to pay authors enough to make it worth their while to write," she says.

Playing catch-up

During the symposium in Sydney, speakers alluded to another reason some major publishers here are playing catch-up many are local branches of multinationals and have to fit in with head office's plans and Australia is not always the highest priority for London or New York.

Multinationals HarperCollins, Random House, Simon & Schuster and Hachette either declined or were unavailable to comment on their e-book plans (they weren't the only ones Apple executives preferred not to comment, and Amazon ignored requests for an interview).

Penguin Australia chief executive Gabrielle Coyne was quick to respond, though.

"We certainly do plan to release our mono [black ink on white paper] books as e-books as a matter of course and will be doing so as we establish our supply chain and devices become readily available to Australian readers," she said.

"We're also working closely internally and with our colleagues elsewhere in the group to review our full-colour books both on our adult's and children's lists and the best and most creative ways to make this content available."

Penguin Australia last year worked with InyerPocket Software (which in turn partnered with LoL Software) to produce an app for Jungle Drums, by Animalia author Graeme Base.

Weiss says everyone has now realised it's time.

"It's a revolution. Even my 81-year-old father knows about the Apple iPad," she said.

Weiss doesn't believe the Australian industry is that far behind, saying most of the movement in the US has been over the past 12 months.

"This has developed very fast, and Australian publishers wanted to see how it developed before committing to e-book formats."

And while the Kindle is here, it was launched without marketing or publicity backup. "It's not in shops, and there is no dedicated Australian Amazon site," she says.

Apple has only just advertised for a manager for its iBooks program in the region, so the launch of its iBookstore, which is expected to sell primarily text-based mainstream fiction and non-fiction titles for the iPad, is likely to be some months away here. It will be operational in the US from early April.

Apple's iPhone Developer Program allows just about anyone with technical and creative nous to become a publisher. Pay $A108 and wade through the documentation, and you too could be creating "e-books" for the iPhone and iPad.

Fairfax Media's marketing and newspaper sales director Robert Whitehead warns that finding a market for your app may not be so easy, though. While sales of Fairfax's Good Food Guide apps are reportedly in the tens of thousands, this is partly as a result of cross-promotion in the group's newspapers.

"It's clear at this early stage that the people who succeed with apps will be those who can provide major exposure in other media outlets to generate awareness to generate the sales," Whitehead said. "With 150,000 apps on the App store, for example, they don't just sell themselves."

According to technology blog, there were more than 28,000 app developers out there in December. They waited an average of 4.78 days for Apple to approve their apps, and app store users downloaded an average of 4.8 apps each. A quarter of those were paid (most paid apps cost anywhere between 99c and $9.99, with an average price of $2.70).

"With over 58 million app store users, 280 million apps were downloaded in December, generating more than $US250 million in revenues, of which 30 per cent goes to Apple and 70 per cent to developers," reports.

Winning new business

LoL Software's Phil Bosua, who presented those figures at the symposium last month, says his company is winning new business by approaching publishers "that have great content". He has been in the publishing business for around a year. The Beatrix Potter project involves producing individual apps for a dozen of the titles, including Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin and Benjamin Bunny, as well as an app taking in all 12 titles.

Bosua says the apps will be "true to the original books" and focus on "replicating the reading a book or bedtime story experience but adding narration".

Where all of this leaves traditional book publishers remains to be seen.

Weiss has been epublishing for years through her involvement in academic publishing. "It's no coincidence that the two major publishers who have invested in e-books to date [Allen & Unwin and Macmillan] have education lists."

Allen & Unwin has around 1500 e-books "out in the world", and the majority are trade (general rather than educational). The publisher will now release e-books at about the same time as print titles as a matter of course.

Weiss says most trade publishers have already cleared e-book rights with their authors, but are still in the process of selecting and negotiating with e-book retailers, including Amazon and Apple.

Until last month, Amazon insisted on controlling pricing of e-books sold on its site, but the industry breathed a collective sigh of relief when Macmillan negotiated the right to set its own prices, and adjust them as it releases different print editions. For example, from hardback to large then small format paperbacks.

There are technical issues to contend with too, such as e-book file management and conversion, storage and digital rights management (access control technologies that can be embedded in an e-book to impose limitations on its usage). Another of the publishers' big concerns is piracy.

Weiss said, "We've found Allen & Unwin books on file-sharing sites".

Pirated books online are typically scanned from print titles, while the word is that others are hacked e-book files or files sourced from editorial and publicity departments.

Maguire says readers will be driven to piracy if they can't buy the book they want legally.

"In the United States, 28 per cent of e-book reader owners have pirated e-books," she said, adding that PC World magazine found that a third of Publishers Weekly's 2009 top-15 best-selling fiction works were available for illegal download through book-swapping and file-sharing networks.

Nash says Macmillan has more than 300 trade titles on the market as e-books already, and that number will rise to 500-plus this year.

Macmillan's Macquarie Australian Dictionary iPhone app "has sold extremely well despite being at high price point [$29.95] for an app, demonstrating demand for quality content", she says.

She too expects to sign a deal with Amazon within months, and notes that where a title is available in both a print and Kindle edition on Amazon already, 48 per cent of the retailer's sales are of the Kindle edition.

"Despite the hype, [digital publishing] is something that is moving," Nash told the publishers in Sydney. "We have a little bit of time, but we need to work together over the next year."

Monday, April 12, 2010

USA: Groundbreaking Study on Library Use Released Today

The following is a text-only press release from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). An HTML version of this release can be read on the agency's Web site at

First-ever National Study: Millions of People Rely on Library Computers for Employment, Health, and Education

77 million people used library computers and Internet access in past year

PORTLAND, Ore.- Nearly one-third of Americans age 14 or older - roughly 77 million people - used a public library computer or wireless network to access the Internet in the past year, according to a national report released today. In 2009, as the nation struggled through a recession, people relied on library technology to find work, apply for college, secure government benefits, learn about critical medical treatments, and connect with their communities.

The report, Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries, is based on the first, large-scale study of who uses public computers and Internet access in public libraries, the ways library patrons use this free technology service, why they use it, and how it affects their lives.

It was conducted by the University of Washington Information School and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Low-income adults are more likely to rely on the public library as their sole access to computers and the Internet than any other income group. Overall, 44 percent of people living below the federal poverty line used computers and the Internet at their public libraries.

Americans across all age groups reported they used library computers and Internet access. Teenagers are the most active users. Half of the nation's 14- to 18-year-olds reported that they used a library computer during the past year, typically to do school homework.

"People from all walks of life use library computers to perform routine and life-changing tasks, from emailing friends to finding jobs," said Michael Crandall, senior lecturer and chair of the Master of Science in Information Management at the University of Washington Information School. "More than three-quarters of those who used the library Internet connections had access at home, work, or elsewhere. Oftentimes, they needed a faster connection, assistance from a librarian, or temporary access in an emergency."

The use of library technology had significant impact in four critical areas: employment, education, health, and making community connections. In the last 12 months:
* 40 percent of library computer users (an estimated 30 million people) received help with career needs. Among these users, 75 percent reported they searched for a job online. Half of these users filled out an online application or submitted a resume.
* 37 percent focused on health issues. The vast majority of these users (82 percent) logged on to learn about a disease, illness, or medical condition. One-third of these users sought out doctors or health care providers. Of these, about half followed up by making appointments for care.
* 42 percent received help with educational needs. Among these users, 37 percent (an estimated 12 million students) used their local library computer to do homework for a class.
* Library computers linked patrons to their government, communities, and civic organizations. Sixty-percent of users - 43.3 million people - used a library's computer resources to connect with others.

"There is no ambiguity in these numbers. Millions of people see libraries as an essential tool to connect them to information, knowledge, and opportunities," said Marsha Semmel, acting director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. "Policy makers must fully recognize and support the role libraries are playing in workforce development, education, health and wellness, and the delivery of government services."

The library's role as a technology resource has exploded since 1996, when only 28 percent of libraries offered Internet access. Today, almost all public libraries offer visitors free access to computers and the Internet.

Unfortunately, up to a third of all libraries say they lack even minimally adequate Internet connections to meet demand. More report that they cannot provide the access their patrons truly need.

"Library technology services have created opportunity for millions of Americans, but public libraries struggle to replace aging computer workstations and increase the speed of their Internet connections," said Allan Golston, president of the United States Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "This study highlights what is at risk, particularly for low-income individuals who heavily rely on the public library for their technology, if future public and private investment in public libraries doesn't keep pace with demand."

The report's findings are based on nearly 50,000 surveys - including 3,176 from a national telephone survey and 44,881 web survey responses - from patrons of more than 400 public libraries across the country. The full report is available at

For broadcast-quality footage, high-resolution still photography, and information about the foundation's work, please visit:

About the University of Washington Information School
Media Contact: David Shepard;; 206-221-6182
The University of Washington Information School believes in the power of information to change lives. Through instruction, research and practice, the UW Information School, or "iSchool," is shaping the ways people create, store, find, manipulate and share information. Our work helps people address information challenges more ethically, effectively and with a heightened sense of possibility. The UW iSchool offers a Bachelor of Science in Informatics degree, and three graduate degrees: Master of Library and Information Science, Master of Science in Information Management, and Ph.D. in Information Science.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
Media Contact: Mamie Bittner;; 202-327-4201
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Media Contact:; 206-709-3400
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people-especially those with the fewest resources-have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Learn more at or join the conversation at Facebook ( and Twitter (

Friday, April 9, 2010

Impact of Local Government Restructuring on Queensland's Public Libraries

Recently, when several Queensland Public Library Managers were asked about the impact of Local Government Restructuring on Queensland's Public Libraries. This was asked in the following context:

The eventual possibility of Local Government restructuring within NSW (currently there are 152 LGAs; a NSW population of 7.1m and 66 LGAs with populations of under 15,000. The smallest LGA in NSW has a population of just over 1,000 residents).
A 2009 restructured NSW Public Service. 13 Super Agencies were created the NSW Department of Local Government is now part of the Department of Premier & Cabinet with the potential for an increase in shared services within the NSW Public Service. Two reviews are currently due for release on this subject. At present, there are two major shared services' providers within the NSW Public Service.

The questions asked were:

What have been the major impacts of Local Government restructuring for the Public Libraries...Financial? Staffing? Services? Other?
Has there been across several new LGAs, or the State as a whole, any shared services creation, or centralization and/or outsourcing of Public Library functions such as Technical Services? If yes, in what specifically?

A Queensland response:

The impacts for public libraries have been across all of the areas you have identified.

In terms of financial there have been several issues:

* the actual costs of amalgamation – need to integrate systems, rebranding, staff accommodation, ensuring parity in wages, conditions, EBA negotiation
* preparation of long term financial strategies clearly showing the rate rises that will be necessary to support desired levels of service and capital projects
desire to not have high rate increases – impact on community, and amalgamation was sold to community (by State Government) on basis of efficiencies and cost savings from economies of scale
* previous debt levels of some councils
* state of the infrastructure in some areas, and costs of trying to bring it up to standard.

These issues have generally forced all councils to look for savings with budget cuts not uncommon across all areas. In our case we had to find a 4% cut in operating costs for the 2009/10 financial year.


Quite unsettling for staff with changes to structures and obviously changes at management level – 1 instead of several library managers, and in many cases changing reporting structures where libraries may be lower down the food chain. Many previous library managers have been given responsibility for other functions as well
often a cap on staffing – in our council a business case is required for every position which becomes vacant, or any additional positions – very few approved, so in fact we have lost positions. The State government transition arrangements guaranteed positions of staff for three years until March 2011 so there could be no forced redundancies, meaning that vacancies have been used as opportunities to reduce overall staffing numbers
Impacts of providing services across larger regions – in our case our council now covers an area of 18,600 sq kilometres (McEntyre note - this is almost twice the geopraphical size of the greater Sydney region and PLM's 43 member Councils), with scattered service points. With change from CLS for some sites this has had implications for collection exchange and how to best handle this, resource requirements etc
Just the sheer logistics of being able to get staff together for training, meetings, team building etc
Changing systems as LIMS were integrated – need for project planning, training etc, staff acceptance of changes in systems, implementation time
Budget cuts impacting on opportunities for staff training and development, with flow-on effect to organizations such as the QPLA
Just the sheer volume of work required to bring policies, procedures, budgets, systems together.


With all of the financial and staffing considerations there has been a tendency in some cases to reduce the level of service previously provided in some areas – the lowest common denominator rather than lifting levels in areas where service wasn’t as good.
Services stretched to cover a broader area, with little/no additional resourcing
Changes to subsidy levels received from the State government with most amalgamated councils receiving less funding due to weighting factors based on population, so less money to spend on stock at a time when the service footprint has increased
Transition from the CLS model to an independent model for a number of smaller libraries, and in some cases the integration of previous CLS libraries into larger independent services – a totally different model for both staff and community.
Concern at loss of local identity and service, being ‘swallowed up’.

In our case we are undertaking service level reviews and process mapping across council to determine the levels of service we can afford to provide. Obviously, this is challenging given community expectations, and particularly in some of the areas which have had limited service previously. There is now an expectation that there will be improvement.

The other issue of concern is the question of equity of service across large areas. There was a high degree of community opposition to amalgamation, and after 2 years a number of people still want to de-amalgamate. This leads to complaints from the smaller areas that they are being ignored, or not receiving their fair share of service etc, and a lot of time needs to be invested in trying to change perceptions.

Councils are moving forward, but there is still a way to go for most.

In terms of shared services creation, some Councils are exploring options in some areas, but in the case of libraries, many Qld public libraries were already outsourcing things such as cataloguing and processing. Companies such as Peter Pal have been providing fully shelf ready stock for a number of years and many libraries have moved to a full service model including selection.

While I believe that amalgamation had to happen, it is a long process and the efficiencies are not going to be achieved in the short term.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Future of Western Australian Public Libraries?

Big cuts put local libraries at risk
BEATRICE THOMAS and KATE CAMPBELL, The West Australian March 29, 2010,

The future of the local library is in doubt after the State Government proposed slashing funding for books by up to 40 per cent, despite fears it could have a severe impact on literacy among WA children.

Under a long-running agreement, the State Government covers the cost of book stocks on a per capita basis, while local councils pay for the infrastructure, maintenance and running of libraries. After allocating $10.8 million to buy books in 2008-09, the Barnett Government reduced funding to $7.95 million this financial year.

WA Local Government Association president Bill Mitchell said that during negotiations with the Government, councils had been told the State planned to spend just $6.5 million on books next financial year, 2010-11.

This was a 40 per cent drop in three years and half what the State's 139 councils needed to provide books and other resources for library users, he said. Local communities would ultimately suffer.

University of WA Dean of Education Helen Wildy warned the State Government not to cut funding to community libraries, saying they were a "pivotal point in the educational landscape of all children".

Libraries were central to early childhood literacy and evidence showed children without a strong foundation in reading entered school "many steps behind", Professor Wildy said.

Desperately low levels of literacy existed in pockets of the community and in some households community libraries were the only educational resources available.

"It would be like pulling the rug from under the community's feet if you don't have those resources available," she said. "I would hate to see it in any way diminished." National literacy and numeracy tests conducted last year showed WA schoolchildren were among the worst performing in the country.

About nine million visits are made to local libraries each year, ranking them second behind cinemas as WA's most popular cultural activity.

"These things are hard to build up but easy to lose," Professor Wildy said.

Edith Cowan University associate professor of early childhood education Caroline Barratt-Pugh, who is involved in the Better Beginnings program which encourages parents to read to their children from infancy, said libraries were an important tool for parents to become more literate.

"It would be a huge loss in terms of access to resources and support for early literacy," she said.

City of Stirling mayor David Boothman said funding was back to 2001 levels despite a 16 per cent increase in population and a million visits to its six libraries each year. He said the State provided $452,000 a year to Stirling - equal to about 42¢ per resident - which was "not enough to buy a second-hand paperback from the op-shop".

Culture and the Arts Minister John Day said the State Budget forward estimates for 2010-11 allowed for $8.17 million a year for libraries.

The actual amount that would be allocated to buy books was subject to on-going negotiations with local governments, he said.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

UK Public Library Modernisation Review

CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals has welcomed proposals set out in the government’s Public Library Modernisation Review, published today. CILIP now calls on the government to show leadership by delivering their recommendations with appropriate funding to provide the “first-rate free service to everyone” they commit to.

CILIP has consistently called on the government to provide clear guidance to local authorities, so that Councils know what library services they are expected to deliver and local people receive the quality of service they have a right to expect. The government’s proposals for a ‘core’ and ‘local’ library offer linked to continued commitment to a statutory ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service begins to answer CILIP’s call.

“Over the last twelve months CILIP has been hard at work lobbying the government; at the Wirral Inquiry, by publishing Guidelines on What Makes a Good Library Service, through the Public Library Modernisation Consultation, and by publishing a Library and Information Manifesto.” said CILIP President, Biddy Fisher, “I’m glad to see that the government has paid attention to our evidence and recommendations. I welcome the government’s commitment to delivering a first-rate free service to everyone; they now need to deliver on their recommendations and provide appropriate investment in the public library service.”

Following Wirral Council’s announcement in 2009 that they were restructuring the library service, large demonstrations took place and a government-led inquiry followed, “Lessons from the Wirral Inquiry are being learnt,” commented CILIP Chief Executive, Bob McKee, “the government is recommending clear guidance on engagement and consultation with local communities. They are also committing to review the rules of intervention by the Secretary of State when local authorities are thought to be failing in their statutory duty. I await the details with interest, but this sounds like a step in the right direction.”

CILIP agrees with the Review’s affirmation that books must remain at the heart of library service but also welcomes the proposal to ensure free Internet access in all libraries and the free lending of eBooks. “Libraries have a major role to play in supporting digital inclusion,’ said Bob McKee, “and it is important for people to have free access to online resources as well as to books from their local library.”

Full review:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

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