What is the future of public libraries?
What should we be focussing on?
What should we be aiming for?
Published in 2013, VISION 2017 for Queensland Public Libraries was a strategic visioning statement co-developed by State Library of Queensland, Queensland Public Libraries Association and the Local Government Association of Queensland for the period 2013-2017. Now it is time to develop a renewed vision. The University Of Southern Queensland was successful in their tender for the review and Digital Life Lab researchers Dr Kate Davis and Dr Matt Finch are behind the next vision.
This past week I sat in a room full of my colleagues and participated in a workshop to help develop the next vision for Queensland public libraries. This was one of nine workshops held across the state engaging with library professionals from small and large library services. The goal? To find out what is important to those working in the industry now and in the near future.
Through guided activities we were asked to think broadly about our ideal public library of the future and then narrow these ideas down into themes. I would expect many similarities in ideas and discussions across the state but some major differences too. After all, a teeny tiny rural library has different needs to a large, powerful city service and how can one document reflect all?
In the workshop I attended on the Gold Coast everyone agreed that all public library services should be free but this is easier said than done. Some libraries charge for internet access, overdue fees and charges, meeting room hire and fast book loans to name a few. They need this money to stay open and would need to find alternate revenue sources to continue to offer their services. This is a longer term vision for some library services than others for sure.
Another discussion point was around collections. Should we be referring to them separately as the print collection and the digital collection or should it just be the collection? Should the medium matter?
I think I can safely say that we all agreed that welcoming and safe community spaces should be a focus for us all.
Kate and Matt will gather data from the nine workshops as well as interviews with rural and urban library managers and an online survey open to all. There is still time to complete the survey if you want to contribute your thoughts.
I can’t wait to read the renewed vision and see what comes out of all of the consultations and research. I’ll be sure to write about it when it is released!