Monthly Archives: May 2019

And the nominees for the 2019 IFLA/Systematic Public Library of the Year Award are…

The jury has now agreed on the four shortlisted libraries for the 2019 IFLA/Systematic Public Library of the Year award.

All four will now be considered for selection as the world’s best new public library.

A total of 16 libraries from all over the world applied to be considered for this international award. The many applicants have now been reduced to four shortlisted libraries, one of which will be named the world’s best new public library for 2019.

The shortlisted libraries have been selected by an international jury consisting of members from relevant sections of International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), which supports the award in partnership with the sponsor, Systematic. Systematic is an international IT company that develops software for both the public and the private sector, including library solutions.

The Shortlist

Photograph Tom Roe

The Green Square Library and Plaza (Australia) caught the eye of the jury for being both a square and a public space. This is the only open space in a densely populated area and plays a double function in a most playful and original way. The Green Square Library shows that the structure itself may be challenged and reads like the future in a most welcome way.
The site feels cool and sleek under the hard sun, yet warm and playful on the cold evenings. An active field of library and plaza programming bridges the indoors and outdoors. Highly efficient air conditioning systems that employ CO2 sensors and underfloor heating allow the site to be 100% naturally ventilated.


Photograph Lieselotte Pennings

Bibliotheek LocHal (Netherlands) sets the T in transformation and the jury is delighted to include it on the short list. LocHal’s repurposed train hall-library serve as a locomotive in urban transformation – a livingroom of the city that also attract new businesses. Large tapestries serve as flexible walls inside the building and tracks are left in the floor for giant community tables made from old pulleys. “Work with what you have” is a motto that permeates the project and this adaptive strategy applies to both the architecture, structural systems, climate control and energy use. Even the programming and projects are composed like this. The six theme labs in the LocHal are all created and realized with local partners and citizens.

Soft and light yet rooted Oodi Helsinki Central Library (Finland) earns a solid place among the top 4 libraries. Directly aligned with Finland’s Parliament, this house of the people bridges concepts of equality, participation, citizenship and sustainability. Designed together with the city’s residents, with a focus on the needs of its future users, this project is one for the ages. Iconic exterior qualities and breathtaking interior spaces host qualities like an entire floor for learning activities and a top floor book heaven. With a massive success in visitor numbers in its first months of service, Oodi will lead the way for central libraries throughout the globe.


The final nominee Tūranga – Christchurch Central Library (New Zealand) stands out as a physical and social display of the resilience of both the people and civic life. After the great earthquake shook Christchurch in 2011 an outstanding user involvement process was undertaken for the new central library; and resulted in a place to be with people, for the people. The identity of the library is found in the staircases interconnecting the levels and world-leading structural design for withstanding future earthquakes. The open center invites visitors to move around and explore with beautiful use of materials and light. The library has a strong focus on both children and heritage.

What happens next?

The winner of the 2019 IFLA/Systematic Public Library of the Year will be selected from among these four nominees. The Award is an annual prize given to a public library that is either newly built or set up in premises not previously used for library purposes. The Public Library of the Year Award is accompanied by a USD 5,000 prize, sponsored by Systematic.

The winner of the 2019 IFLA/Systematic Public Library of the Year will be announced during the IFLA World Library and Information Congress, which will take place on 27 August in Athens Greece.

Alpacas with Maracas!

‘Let the Countdown begin: five, four, three, two, one ‘ !

This is the introduction that could be heard in libraries right across Australia and New Zealand just before 11 am on Wednesday 22 May 2019 as we launched in National Simultaneous Storytime.  


National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) is an annual campaign that aims to encourage more young Australians to read and enjoy books. Now in its 19th successful year, it is a colourful, vibrant, fun event that aims to promote the value of reading and literacy, using an Australian children’s book that explores age-appropriate themes, and addresses key learning areas of the National Curriculum for Foundation to Year 6.


NSS is held annually by the Australian Library and Information Association. Every year a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author and illustrator is read simultaneously in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the country. NSS2019’s book is Alpacas with Maracas written and illustrated by Matt Cosgrove.


Here at Orange City Library, where I am based, many excited children (and their equally excited parents and carers) listened to the story before dancing wildly with their maracas.



The surprise finale was an appearance by two beautiful Alpacas (father and son duo, Apollo and Pemberton) who stopped the show and drew gasps of ‘how beautiful’ from everyone in attendance.

Time now to re-group before NSS 2020!

Jan Richards

Reflections on La Biblioteca Che Cresce, Conference, Milan

This week we’re hearing from guest blogger, Sue Considine, a member of the IFLA Public Libraries Standing Committee



In March I had the pleasure to serve as keynote and on a panel at the La Biblioteca Che Cresce, Conference at Stelline in Milan Italy.  I was inspired by all of the innovative work and the unique physical spaces of the Libraries represented on the panel and thought I would share takeaways with you.

First up was Tuula Haavisto, Cultural Director, former Library Director, City of Helsinki.  Tuula shared the planning process that was undertaken for the new Helsinki Central Library Oodi.  She also shared successes and cautionary points, including how “popularity brings positive problems” when a successful new building and plan of service brings in usage and attendance beyond the capacity of the new library and staff.

Following Tuula, I shared, from a United States Library perspective, a talk entitled Beyond Content: Community Engagement through Community Led Participatory Learning and Knowledge Creation.  I encouraged attendees to analyze and assess their organizational cultures, commit resources to lifelong learning for staff members, to undertake rebranding for results as we strive to communicate value and impact, and for Librarians to embrace their role as Facilitators through a Community Led service model.

Next was Theo C.M Kepperman, Director of the Rotterdam Public Library.  Theo focused his presentation on unique, popular programming for “young people” specifically ages 14-26, a population notoriously difficult to capture with library programming.    Theo went on to describe the “three pillars” of successful programming for young people which include Physical- (interior design and incorporation of partners), Content- (sharing digital and physical content and components related to leisure, study, work, and personal development) and finally the Human component- (personnel, partners, community, co-creators).

Meike Jung, the Manager of the Library at Stuttgart, Germany shared inspiring stories of tech integration into library spaces and programming to introduce citizens to not only ythe digital world but to emerging technologies and coding languages that will shape the future of how we interact with technology and the digital world around us.

Emma Catiri and Daniela Cichetti, Librarians in Milan, Italy closed out this extraordinary panel by sharing the plans for their new modern, expanded library facility and how the planning process requires them to explore the territory between innovation and participation.  This was especially valuable as they are in the process currently and they had not only details and information to share but questions to ask as they grow library services on behalf of the community and the larger community they intend to serve in their new spaces when complete.

The panel session concluded with more Q&A than time allowed.  It was an incredible opportunity to share with colleagues and peers, the networking alone made the trip to Italy to speak invaluable.  The Stelline conference is an annual event, and is the largest Library and Information Science annual conference in Italy.  Please consider attending in the future.