Monthly Archives: April 2015

Transforming Public Libraries in India: Envisioning the Future

Participants at the Building Stronger Library Associations workshop.

Participants at the Building Stronger Library Associations workshop.

New Delhi was the setting for the inaugural India Public Libraries Conference 2015  which was held
on 17-19 March. The Conference was attended by more than 400 participants comprising of international and national speakers, delegates from national, state, district public library domains and other public library professionals.

The program focussed on discussions around how public libraries can be recognised as public places for seeking information and knowledge. The three day event comprised a two day conference on the theme Transforming Public Libraries in India: Envisioning the Future and a  day of  parallel  workshops and tours for library officials and professionals.

The meet was a part of a comprehensive initiative launched by non-profit Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and Developing Library Network (DELNET) with support from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen and upgrade public libraries in India along with a host of public library stakeholders and partners. The IPLC 2015 was inaugurated by Dr. Jitendra Singh, Hon’ble Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office, Government of India.

The draft recommendations of the IPLC 2015 have been finalised and are now open to public library stakeholders for comments and suggestions for wider representation of views and innovative ideas to make the public library ecosystem better in India. Already, a lot many suggestions and recommendations have been received during the IPLC 2015 conference.

The final set of recommendations shall be submitted to the national and state library authorities including the Ministry of Culture, State Education Departments in charge of public libraries, grant making agencies and other key policy and implementation agencies.

Are you coming to the Public Libraries satellite in Cape Town?


Public library services around the world have reached the cross-roads. Collection formats and community needs continue to evolve at a rapid pace. Technology plays a major role providing people with access to information; bringing library staff out from behind the desk to engage with users and delivering programs and activities, to suit the local community.

  • How do Public Libraries cope with these changes?
  • How do we plan and adapt our spaces to incorporate these changes?
  • How do we reorganise our service models?

These are the questions we will explore through our exciting and very practical program at the Public Library Satellite 13-14 August as part of the IFLA Congress in Cape Town.

We will be adopting  a multi-pronged approach with a combination of keynote speakers, targeted papers and workshop sessions.

Our dynamic speakers bring perspectives and experiences from around the world including Australia, Denmark, Japan, South Africa, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.

The conference will be hosted by the City of Cape Town Library Service and the Western Cape Provincial Library Service in partnership with IFLA’s Public Libraries Section.

Delegates will have the opportunity to workshop solutions for service delivery options with their professional colleagues and to share and learn from others’ experiences.  Public library colleagues from around the world have already indicated their intention of attending and will bring with them a wealth of experience that will lead to stimulating discussions.

If you’re thinking of attending you’ll need to be quick, places are limited and registrations close on 30 June.

We look forward to meeting you in South Africa.

Does your library deserve six stars?


Helsingor Library,  Denmark

Helsingor Library, Denmark

Is yours a six star library? To find out we’d like to introduce you to a new public library evaluation tool, LRE Library Ranking Europe.

This project is being undertaken by retired Librarians Maija  and Mats Berndston who argue that ‘in order to measure the quality and the standard of a public library from a citizen and customer perspective a common tool that could be used as a guideline for future improvement and development is needed. This should be based on the concrete services that the measured library offers.’

The areas considered are:

  • Information About The Library
  • Site, Visibility And Access
  • Service And Supply
  • Premises
  • Choice Of Collection
  • Freedom Of Expression And Of Choice

Already 27 libraries have been assessed using mystery shopping principles. The project instigators welcome feedback so do check out their site.


Is Yours the World’s Best Public Library?


The hunt is once again on to discover the world’s best public library.  In 2015, the Danish Agency for Culture will again have the honour of presenting the Systematic Public Library of the Year Award sponsored by Systematic with prize$US 5,000. Applications close on 15 June 2015.

The prize will be awarded to a library that has been newly constructed or designed for a building that has not previously been used as a library during the period 1 January 2013 through 15 June 2015, and which meets the criteria for the Model Programme for Public Libraries.

The library must take into consideration digital developments and local culture. It must welcome a diversity of population groups with an open and functional architectural expression in balance with its surroundings and a creative use of IT to improve user experiences.

The Award will be presented at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Cape Town,  South Africa on 16 August in cooperation with the IFLA´s Public Libraries Section.

The winner of the 2014 Public Library of the Year

The winner of the 2014 Public Library of the Year

The prize was first awarded in 2014 by the Danish Agency for Culture in partnership with architectural firm schmidt hammer lassen and won by Craigieburn Library, Hume City, Victoria, Australia.


Public Library Advocacy in the US and Australia


Often it takes everyday people to really bring issues home to local legislators. That’s the thinking behind the American Library Association’s initiative.

One of the features on the site is a library value calculator (What’s your library worth?) that visitors can use to determine how much they would pay for library materials and services if they actually had to buy them. Categories like the number of e-books downloaded, computer hours logged, and database searches conducted are included in the calculation.

The calculator, like most of the resources available on the site, is designed to help support ALA’s position that libraries remain relevant and much-needed information centres for local communities.

A key section of the site is dedicated to “real stories.” The site makes it easy FOR users to share their stories online by just clicking on the photo that asks, “Has the library made a difference in your life? Tell us your story.”

ALA believes the overall success of the initiative rests on its ability to continue to engage everyday advocates.



Meanwhile the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has launched FAIR which campaigns for a fair, open and democratic society where information belongs to everyone.

FAIR stands for Freedom of Access to Information and Resources.

It will lobby for a series of issues including well funded libraries, copyright law reform, the digitisation of our history, evidence-based policy making, lifelong learning and qualified library staff in schools.

ALIA created FAIR to give people a way to actively support all kinds of libraries including public, TAFE, university, health, law, business, government as well as our National and State Libraries.

FAIR enables people to show their support for the FAIR issues and will help secure the future for libraries.




New Uses of the Public Library – Seminar in Barcelona

Members of IFLA's Public Libraries Section at Esparreguera Library

Members of IFLA’s Public Libraries Section at Esparreguera Library

The Seminar ‘New uses of the public library’, held on 26 February 2015 in the functions room of the Design Museum of Barcelona and organised by the Barcelona Provincial Council Library Services Management Office with the cooperation of the Barcelona Libraries Consortium and the IFLA’s Public Libraries and Library Buildings and Equipment sections, provided a forum for debate on the changes that are taking place in the use of the public library and how they affect services, users, spaces and professionals.

One of the challenges currently facing library professionals is defining the library model in a global context marked by profound change and social and economic uncertainty. A constantly evolving society characterised by factors such as the increased use of technology, changes in cultural consumption, a trend towards immediate access to knowledge, a diversity of interests and multiculturalism.

These social factors are changing how citizens approach libraries and create new challenges in responding to needs and expectations in the design of library services and amenities. To address this, three round tables were organised on Users, Services and Professionals and composed, in all cases, of a local moderator, a professional from the Barcelona Municipal Libraries Network (MLN), a member of the Public Libraries section and a member of the Buildings section. The programme concluded with a presentation of good practices applied in the province of Barcelona.

Our colleagues in Barcelona have now provided a summary of discussions. I know that everyone who was in attendance will agree that it was an outstanding program that set the stage for ongoing debate and conversations.