Public Library Services Coordination Committee Southern Region Session – 6 November 2006 Alice Springs Town Council – Andy McNeil Room Attendance: Jo McGill (NTL), David Rolfe (DCM – Facilitator), Fran Kilgariff (ASTC), Meredith Campbell (ASTC), Mark Blackburn (ASTC), Denise Senior (ASPL) Birgit Nielsen (ASPL), Wally Litvensky (Ltyentye Apurte CC), Bernice (Ltyentye Apurte CL), Louise Riddell (TCTC), Barb (TCPL), Jay Gibson (NTL), Glenys Aird (NTL) Introduction: Jo McGill opened the workshop and provided participants with an overview of: o Purpose of the workshop o Role of Northern Territory Library o Role of the Public Library Service Coordination Committee The workshop was facilitated by David Rolfe, Senior Consultant, Department of the Chief Minister. David Rolfe asked participants to consider ● the services provided by public libraries to the community and how they might change over the next 10 years ● the changing nature of the community the libraries serve ● what might impact on the services provided. Key Issues: Relevance Participants discussed the need for services to be relevant to the community being served. Services to youth and the aged were specifically mentioned, but it was noted that all age groups need to be catered for. Services to youth were seen as critical to the future of public libraries. Changing demographic patterns were acknowledged. Duplication of service ASTC was particularly concerned about the duplication of libraries in the town and the (perceived) inefficiencies this engenders. ASTC saw every $ spent on a small special library as being a $ that was not being spent on the public library (“Ratepayers are subsidising special libraries.”) Joint-use (public library and education library) was a suggested model, especially in remote communities. Public libraries complement school (and other educational) libraries. Better value for expenditure (ROI) might be achieved if special libraries were accessible to members of the general public. The collections held in the different libraries were not significantly duplicated. Library services to the Indigenous community The public library (in AS) is one of the few public spaces that is shared between all cultures – it is seen as neutral ground. Physical space in the library must be sufficient and suitably organised to allow the different user groups to make use of the library service without alienating each other. Bylaws are used to regulate behaviour and dress. Information Technology Concerns were raised about the cost of providing internet access, especially to non- ratepayers. The use of video teleconferencing was suggested as a means of delivering training to remote users. The possibility of connecting public libraries to the fibre optic link used by tertiary institutions was raised. Participants were unsure about future developments in ICT (eg nextG). The interactive nature of new technologies, especially for young people, was raised as an issue of relevance to future library services. User pays Concerns were raised about the cost of providing library services, especially to non- ratepayers. The implementation of wireless technology was seen by one library service as problematic from a user pays perspective, as well as having “user management” issues. It was suggested that the network needs to set user pays policy. Legislation There was general agreement that a legislative framework would clarify the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, the ownership of resources, the funding framework, and expectations and obligations of service providers and the NTG. Defining governance issues was also seen as a desirable outcome of legislation. Some concern was expressed about the inappropriateness of current By-laws. Local Government Reform implications This will impact on the current funding formula and the relationship between NTL and local government. The current funding formula is likely to be extended for a further 12 months to allow changes to bed down. This gives NTL a “window of opportunity” to develop relevant models of delivery in small communities (eg standard, virtual, mobile, joint use). It was felt that NTL should lobby to include CPI in future funding agreements. Staffing Participants believed that sufficient and appropriately trained staff is critical to the delivery of public library services. Professional isolation is an important issue. Half- yearly meetings and induction programs are important tools for developing library staff. Current average age of library workers in the NT is 47 years. Workforce / succession planning is critical to the continued success of public libraries. NTL and LGANT could develop a workforce management plan. Library staff skills of research and information broker are highly valued. Marketing and promotion Participants felt that library staff have a lack of skills in this area and a need for training and development was identified. Library staff need to be proactively promoting the library service in the community. Word of mouth promotion is the most effective means of promoting the library service to Indigenous users. Community development Participants did not focus on this role of public libraries. However it was noted that public libraries are places of recreation and information; that they must be safe and welcoming, that the physical infrastructure must cater for all users and the resources and services should be relevant to the community. “Any value-adding must be done by someone other than local government”. Accessibility Some deficiencies with public transport in Alice Springs were identified as a possible reason for lack of use of the library by young people.