The thing about being on holiday is that inbetween bouts of reading historical fiction, swimming at the beach and general carousing I actually get time to catch up on professional reading. More importantly, I get time to think about what I've read.
I have spent 2 days - on and off - reading, digesting and discussing "The Bookends Scenarios : alternative futures for the public library in NSW 2030". This a really interesting and challenging piece of work which is very, very timely. I heartily recommend it as a good read - and excellent after dinner discussion!
My response to the Bookends Scenarios follow.
1. ROI on investment in Libraries.
The library profession must define what the social needs of our society are and how we can add value thus demonstrating the social return on investment in libraries. This needs to be done nationally and the provision of free public libraries by local authorities must become a legislated social necessity like potable drinking water, sewerage disposal and roads.
I am more convinced than ever that open standards and open source is the way of the future. The LSynCNZ work on a nationwide library management system for NZ is hugely timely and important work. I urge District Librarians not to rush off forming adhoc local consortia of 3 or 4 territorial authories which greatly weakens the viability of LSynCNZ and just delays the inevitable. Lets not be afraid to think of the big picture. Huge open source consortias operate all over the world and NZ really is small fry in terms of geographic spread, population, items and loans.
3. Staffing of Libraries.
As librarians we must reskill - constantly - in order to stay relevant to the society we serve. Professional registration is a great initiative. An aging population will compound the current problem of finding suitably skilled library professionals - which we must do if we are to remain relevant to the society we serve. We need to 'audit' the skill-set of our staff, identifying gaps and move immediately to an ongoing training development plan to move staff to where we need them to be.
4. Service Models.
We need to completely redesign our service model for the future. Issuing books has not been our primary purpose for many years, and will become proportionately less significant over the years to come. We need to define the roles and programmes and services we will offer, and redefine these every few years to ensure we keep relevant in changing times.
We have 2 new buildings in the pipeline in Horowhenua and this is an excellent opportunity to ensure we design community spaces as "The Third Place", as hearts of the communities we serve.
Libraries must embrace the changes demanded in changing times - this is non negotiable. 'Servant leadership' of an exemplary standard will be required to lead Councils, communities and staffr forward. Library managers will need to skillfully push, pull and drag 'old school' librarians into the 21st century librarianship and bravely know when to call it quits and let go those unable to change.