Author Archives: richards

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.


Public Libraries working with the Community to Assist Flood Victims in Iran

Many of you will have read about the extensive flooding that has occurred in the Islamic Republic of Iran over the past few weeks. The weather event that began in March has affected 28 of 31 provinces across the country. According to authorities 78 people have been killed and 1,076 injured.  It is estimated that 10 million people have been affected and that as many as 2 million may be in need of some form of assistance. At least 296,000 people reportedly remain displaced. The widespread damages to the road and transportation network are making villages and small towns inaccessible.


Against the background of this national disaster the Iran Public Library Foundation and the public library sector are working with the community to support the citizens of Iran, and in particular children and young people. Under the banner ‘Spring Kindness’  a program has been launched to distribute books, games and toys to children in flood ravaged areas with libraries acting as deposit stations and the library infrastructure being used to deliver these items  – don’t you love the the convoy of Bookmobiles below?


Libraries are also supporting relief efforts through use of their spaces to store goods and cook food.


There are some wonderful images on the Foundation’s Instagram feed @iranpl. Futher information on the floods is available on the reliefweb site

A big ‘hats off’ to our colleagues in Iran!

Meet the candidates: Vahe Khumaryan

Vahe Khumaryan
National Children’s Library of Armenia

My name is Vahe and by now I have only had 1 year experience at the National Children’s Library of Armenia, as well as around 2 years experience at the Armenian National Section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). I have been also coordinating projects of the Armenian Library Association and by now I am still taking part in its activities. Recently, I have taken up a position of an assistant to MP at the National Assembly of Armenia and I am also involved in educational and IT sectors of Armenia, with my second employment at the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies. With a previous backgound in academia in a capacity of research fellow, I have always tried to bring several important principles to the areas of activities I have been involved in. This is what I also expect to advocate for in the library sphere in Armenia and globally:

  • Development strategies of libraries must be based on quantitiative data and advanced methodologies.
  • The introduction and imposition  of modern approaches and technologies for customer service and counselling at the libraries (by state).
  • Introduction of a thorough Armenian, as well as regional, online library catalogue, supported from several centralized IT departments in the regional cooperating states.
  • Automation of library services, with a respectful approach to the social responsibilities of larger librarian institutions.
  • Training and support for the development of modern communication departments at the libraries worldwide, which will ensure the library activity and services online through E-Book databases and cooperation with recognized online book sellers (Amazon, Kobo, Google Play Market, etc.)
  • Ensuring the accessibility of scientific databases and indexation catalogues to more people worldwide.


I believe my participation in IFLA Standing Committee will be a voice of younger generation from a the CIS/South Caucasus region and I will be happy to share my professional backgound and contribute to the exchange of cultural values library inthusiasts from around the world.

For more information about voting for members of the Public Libraries Standing Committee take the time to read our post

Meet the candidates: Kyung- Cheol Kim

Kyung- Cheol Kim
National Library of Korea

I’m glad to have a chance to introduce myself. My name is Kyung- Cheol Kim  (Please call me Kim). I have working for National Library of Korea Since March 2014. Before, I had have an various experiences of library fields as librarian,  educator, comittee member, especially special library fields, for more than 14 years.

Last 5 years, as Staff of National Library, major works are Digital Library Planning Division (Open Access Policy & Project, Web Archiving Project, Policy Information Library Association Management)  and Collection Management & Reading and Reference Service.

As you Know, National Library of Korea is leader of  public libraries as a legal and real role.   I think that public libraries are main facilities of country for education and knowledge sharing to people.  So, Improvement on policy of public libraries are still main issue of most of countries. My experience support a enough motivation to be a committee member.

I hope to contribute a my effort to develop, apply and exchange with other countries on successful policy and useful information during committee activities.

For more information about voting for members of the Public Libraries Standing Committee take the time to read our post

Meet the candidates: Jakob Guillois Lærkes

Jakob Guillois Lærkes
Director of Gladsaxe Libraries

I am Director of Gladsaxe Libraries, Denmark, and former Director of Orestad Library and Blågården Library. My main interests are design of library spaces and service, change management and, in general, development of future libraries.

My main goal is to raise awareness of the important role and task of the public libraries in making a difference in people’s lives. With the working group and as part of the jury of the IFLA/Systematic Public Library of the Year Award, I have dedicated time and energy in revitalising this important award. A work of advocacy that contributes to creating the political and strategic platform required to make change.

I am vice-chair of the Danish National Library Association and a regular speaker at international conferences, including several IFLA WLIC and pre-conferences. I will also continue working for making WLIC the central most interesting conference for library professionals by implementing IFLAs new global vision.

As Director of Orestad Library, I was in charge of designing a modern library which offers self service and caters for both the nearby school, high school and the local community. As Director of Blågården Library, I took the lead in developing a library targeted at young people and their specific needs. In Gladsaxe, I am now dedicated to the task of converting a main library, four branch libraries and a commercial movietheater into cultural hubs for the local community.

From 2011-2013 I joined the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI) – a network of library professionals formed by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, with focus on public libraries in the 21st century.

International cooperation and the mutual exchange of ideas and knowledge is a key component of the work in IFLA. I firmly believe that the greatest changes are made by professionals working together and having a stronger voice.

For more information about voting for members of the Public Libraries Standing Committee take the time to read our post