Public Libraries and the Road to Recovery

Library Managers across the world have been leading their service through a crisis. For my library service, with various branches in a number of different locations, staff with varying levels of technical skills, and a situation that was changing fast — sometimes multiple times a day — there were some key leadership priorities that enabled our library service to remain viable.

Leadership priorities in a Pandemic:

Be clear about what you are trying to do and why: Communication needs to adjust to the audience. For my Library Service the communication with the Board was somewhat different to the communication to Library staff and the public…

Looking for a Friend - Image by Gerd Altman

Recently I attended the online symposium Loneliness in the Digital Age presented by the Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia. What I learnt from the experts discussing loneliness in today’s societies is that it affects all age groups. For young people the findings are that the more digitally connected they are the loneliest they are. And for older people, their health, their mental faculities and their lifespan decreases if they are not socially connected. For those experiencing loneliness there is shame, a loss of social skills and conversation skills and more isolation occurs.

In my library service’s communities we…

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

To survive the Mark II Melbourne lockdown I have been signing up to some evening sessions. The Information Knowledge Group from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have a Meetup group and their recent seminar Gritting Teeth and Raising Eyebrows with Johnnie Moore from Unhurried grabbed my attention. Yes, we have spent the months since March 2020 sitting at our computers trying to work together on Zoom or Microsoft Teams and this session was pitched at helping us all stay sane and human in the process.

For many of us in library land, the working from home transition has been…

Communication is key during any emergency and this is certainly been true during this pandemic. For my Library service we had three major stakeholders. Our Library Board, representing our three member Councils, who lead the Yarra Plenty Regional Library corporation and we called special meetings to discuss the situation virtually.

Our community and library members who rely on our services and our library staff, who have to remain informed so they can continue to deliver new library services in a variety of ways. …

Strong Girls Club at Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service

For one Library Service Reading Coordinator the Library Journal article highlighting mover and shaker Nancy Evans , then the Young Adult Librarian at the New York Levittown Public Library Service, sparked an idea. And in March 2019 the Strong Girls Club was born.

There was already a group of teenage girls using the library as a place to meet up and when introducing herself to the group there were a number of topics discussed. Body image, mental health, gender bias and discrimination to name a few. …

Get your daily dose of wellness by reading along as we explore different ways of staying well

The Library I lead has been incredibly busy reimagining library services in lockdown and you can read more about our customer facing services here. But we have also been very aware that our library staff need more support when they also are feeling and anxious about the COVID-19 virus in their lives as well as undergoing the challenging transition to working from home. We are also asking staff to support other teams, such as our Communications team and our People and Culture team, as some areas’ workloads increased at this time.

The staff Wellness Community Hub that our People and…

Yarra Plenty Regional Library #StayAtHome Film Festival

What happens when the library building is closed to the public due to a pandemic? Libraries deliver directly to your home is what happens! At my library service we have made it our mission to ensure we still deliver a library service to our communities — exploring new ways of connecting, delivering digitally and supporting our communities through the challenging lockdown conditions. This has meant all our staff continue to be meaningfully employed and involved in reimagining how we deliver our library service directly to the home. Staff are learning new skills, bringing previously unknown skills to their new roles…

How Libraries Are Responding to the Coronavirus Threat and How Your Library Can Prep for Any Crisis

Here are some key tips for libraries who are offering limited services in a pandemic. These tips have been developed by a team of dedicated public library staff. First are some Basics.

The MOST important thing is to NOT TOUCH YOUR FACES while working. This stops the virus ending up where it can gain access to your body.

Staff who wear glasses and put them on and off frequently need to be very conscious of this. Wherever possible try to keep your glasses in one position.

Do not use your mobile phone while working as you are bringing it to…

Unique Teaching Resources

The International Federation Library Associations (IFLA) has recently published the IFLA Toolkit for Library Engagement in Literacy and Reading Strategies to help library associations, institutions and individual library and information workers advocate for their libraries’ role in literacy and reading. In Victoria, Australia a collaboration between State Library of Victoria and Public Libraries Victoria also developed a strategic framework Reading and Literacy for all 2015–2018 that drove a substantial body of work across all Victorian Public Libraries to improve capability and deliver of early years literacy and adult literacy services. This first framework was a major collaborative effort that was…

Image Credit: Geoffrey Thierry Flickr Creative Commons

In October the Toronto Library was widely condemned by LGBQTI communities when they allowed the anti-trans feminist Meghan Murphy, to give a talk to a sell out crowd. The library as venue is a service that many public libraries offer for a fee and it brings much needed revenue to the service. According to the Canadian media, in this case the library venue was rented to a third-party group called Radical Feminists Unite.

Quoted in the BBC News Toronto Public Library Manager Vickery Bowles refused to cancel the booking, saying: “We are a democratic institution and we are standing up…

Jane Cowell

Librarian, interested in libraries, digital disruption, startups, Australian politics

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