What are libraries trying to achieve? What’s helping them, and what’s getting in their way? What should a big organisation like the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) be doing for its smaller siblings across the country?
These are some of the questions discussed in Advancing Queensland’s Public Libraries (PDF download), a research report prepared by SLQ and the PwC Chair in Digital Economy at Queensland University of Technology.
It tells us:
Results indicate that local governments, who own and manage libraries, do not always see the positive impact libraries have on the community, and this limited awareness keeps governments from investing more resources and giving the libraries free reign.
However, free reign and resources are the primary things libraries need to make an impact. Strategies that help overcome this challenge include proving impact through evidence, gaining freedom in communication, using innovative methods to circumvent red tape, and acquiring resources locally.
Pointing out that many non-library-users and even library staff are unaware how much libraries have changed and what they can now do, the report’s authors encourage librarians to connect with peer organisations, source skills and resources from their local community, and identify “low-cost yet high impact marketing techniques.”
The report recommends that Queensland’s State Library builds “an inspirational network of equals to stimulate mutual exchange…develop and realise visions together, and share success stories and mistakes”; it warns that “combining services should only be pursued if there really is insufficient funding to offer services separately […as] combining services primarily means that library services suffer”; and it tells us that in Queensland,
the community’s appreciation for their library seems to be highest when, on top of preserving and guiding access to collections, libraries also stimulate and guide
- Access to newly emerging technologies,
- Community exchange,
- Connection, and