Finding Value in Victoria Public Libraries, Australia

Thanks to John for hooking me up with this fantastic 2005 Libraries Building Communities report from Victorian Public Libraries in Australia. From their site…
Libraries Building Communities is the first comprehensive Australian study looking at the value public libraries bring to their communities. One of the most extensive research projects undertaken in this area, the study included every public library in Victoria (44 libraries with 238 branches), and sought the views and ideas of almost 10,000 people via online and telephone surveys, focus groups and interviews.

The research aims to increase community awareness of the range of public library services and show how public libraries can help achieve government policy goals. For library staff it:

  • presents clear new data on the contribution libraries make to their communities
  • provides case studies that show how Victorian public libraries lead in innovation
  • identifies groups that are not currently well served by their libraries, and offer solutions
  • builds awareness of the critical social capital and community role of public libraries

Report One: Setting the Scene ~ Covers the concept of community building, the Victorian Government’s policy agenda, the Victorian public library network, project methodology, and relevant research.

Report Two: Logging the Benefits ~ Outlines the community views on the role and benefits of public libraries.

Report Three: Bridging the Gaps ~ Provides socio-economic demographic profiles of library users and non-user, as well as strategies for bridging the perceived gaps in public library service delivery.

Report Four: Showcasing the Best ~ Gives over 30 examples of innovation and excellence in Victorian public libraries.

Know what? This collection is remarkably similar to the themes that Steven and I have been working on. The key components of community building that we’re focusing on are: Assessment, Communication, Service/Program Development, Evaluation, and Sustainability.

It’s nice to see some of our ideas mirrored in other works. On the other hand, it takes me back to the question I’ve been struggling with throughout this entire process: is there anything new? anything fresh? I have a few reasons why the answer is yes (pulling tech services, traditional services & physical spaces together, for one thing) but I think we need to pull it out of the work more explicitly.Writing books is hard. I wonder if, when it’s done, you forget that.