Tag Archives: Australia

Public Libraries Play an Essential role in Literacy and Reading outcomes

IFLA has recently published the IFLA Toolkit for Library Engagement in Literacy and Reading Strategies to help library associations, institutions and individual library and information workers to advocate for libraries’ role in literacy and reading in relevant government strategy documents.  In Victoria, Australia a collaboration between State Library of Victoria and Public Libraries Victoria also developed a strategic framework Reading and Literacy for all 2015-2018 that drove a substantial body of work across all Victorian Public Libraries to improve capability and deliver of early years literacy and adult literacy services. This first framework was a major collaborative effort that was a culmination of wide and deep conversation across the library sector and involved other stakeholders who deliver literacy services and included the Department of Education and Training.  This ensured that there was a strong sense of ownership and commitment from all libraries across Victoria to the body of work that came from that original framework.

Initiatives and outcomes from this original framework included:

  • Development of quality indicators for early years literacy programs
  • Multiple assessments of each library service against the early years literacy programs indicators
  • Training and a toolkit for staff delivering early years literacy programs to help lift the standard and make it consistent across the state Let’s Read!
  • Professional development to encourage and support public libraries to be more active in delivering adult literacy initiatives
  • A best practice guide for adult literacy services which can be used as an advocacy document setting out the roles and achievements of public libraries in this area.
  • The Adult Literacy Innovation Program, providing grants to individual library services over three years to deliver innovative partnership programs in the adult literacy space. Examples include Moreland’s Word Play family literacy initiative and Yarra Plenty Regional Library’s pilot of the Volunteer-led literacy program for new migrants and refugees.

The strategic outcome from this body of work across the State of Victoria was the building of real evidence establishing libraries as essential for delivering literacy and language outcomes for adults, families and children.  The report on this major body of work can be found here.

However, Victorian libraries’ work in literacy is not at an end.  High levels of literacy are required for many of the complex jobs that are developing in this new digital economy as significant change in people’s work continues at a fast pace.

State Library of Victoria and Public Libraries Victoria have continued their collaboration and developed a new revised Reading and Literacy for all: A strategic framework for Victorian Public Libraries 2019- 2023 to inform the next four years of collaborative endeavour for Public Libraries across the state of Victoria.

These strategic documents are important advocacy tools to ensure that literacy, reading and libraries remain on the government agenda and Victorian Libraries in Australia are a great example of how to use this strategic work to amplify this message.

The IFLA Public Libraries Section is also highlighting reading in the satellite conference to be held in Oxford, United Kingdom on 12th and 13th August 2020.  Partnering with the IFLA Literacy and Reading Section, IFLA Metropolitan Libraries Section and IFLA Libraries for Children and Young People we will be presenting Reading Journeys, exploring personal reading choices for adults and children, the learning to read journey, the research into influences that make a difference to our reading journeys and the creative journey from the perspective of authors.  So reading and literacy remains a major focus for IFLA in the coming year.  Keep watching this space for more information in the coming months and start planning to attend!

Jane Cowell, Chief Executive Officer, Yarra Plenty Regional Library, Australia




Australian Libraries and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030

Australian Libraries are ready to talk about the next steps to be seen as an active force in the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030 in Australia and the Asian-Pacific region.  Led by Vicki McDonald, Chair, ALIA International Relations Advisory Committee who is also who is also IFLA Professional Committee Chair and member of the IFLA Governing Board some 20 library leaders and other representatives from the Federal Government came together at Australian Library Information Association (ALIA) House in Canberra on 23rd September, 2019.  This roundtable came together to debate stretch targets for the library sector to define and measure our actions.

The draft targets fit with the 17 SDG goals and 169 SDG targets and are divided into three sections:

  1. Priorities for Australian library services
  2. Contribution to society
  3. Global citizenship

As with the global goals, the draft library targets that are currently out for consultation are ambitious, yet achievable. The targets developed are designed to be measurable, using qualitative and quantitative methods, and by assessing impact. Importantly they are not new and all build on the existing library agenda.

The draft library targets also define the library sector’s role for each of the SDG goals and targets identified for our sector’s action.  The roles are fourfold.

  1. Advocacy: Libraries of all types have a voice and this action plan defines how Australian Libraries, our Associations and industry partners can raise our voice and be heard. Key pieces of legislation, open access initiatives, and raising the profile of the debate in areas such as copyright and open access are key measures.
  2. Service Delivery: there are key aspects of the SDG targets where libraries can directly make a substantial impact with their actions, which can be amplified with further guaranteed funding. Areas such as digital inclusion, access to information, increased digital presence, and digital access to collections are just a few.  The measures identified for this type of role include case studies, existing quantitive measures and identifies where the sector needs to gather new data.
  3. Research and Advocacy: Our sector needs to make the case for the impact of libraries to deliver benefits in all aspects of society. A key area identified for this research is school libraries and teacher librarians.  Making a case for their important and essential inclusion in the educational experience of young Australians is a priority.
  4. Management: For those SDG targets and actions identified where libraries are in control and deliver, the core role is defined as management. Here libraries can lead the way.  Whether it be in environmental sustainable practices, green design for new library buildings, increased collaboration, or cultural diversity and gender equity these are areas where the sector can lead.  Measures include existing data, case studies and showcasing best practice.

Using the indicators and measures described within each target, the intent is to create a statement of the starting point in 2020-2021, an interim position in 2024-2025 and a final position in 2029-2030.

SDG 17 is ‘partnerships for the goals.’ Cross-sector collaboration and partnerships are threaded through this discussion paper and new alliances will be identified as part of the next steps. Our sector will want to work with all three levels of the Australian government, including Arts, Education, Health, Foreign Affairs and Trade; with LIS associations in the region and globally; with GLAM (gallery, library, archives and museum) colleagues; with library suppliers; with LIS researchers and with agencies such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australia Council for the Arts.

A discussion paper has been circulated to the library sector for comment until 3 January 2020.  All feedback will be analysed and an executive group of the ALIA International Relations Advisory Committee will produce confirmed stretch targets for the LIS sector with a report scheduled for publication by the end of March 2020.

Following this there will be an investigation into the current position in the LIS sector against the stretch targets, which is planned to be published in the third quarter of 2020 and will set the baseline for further measurement.   An action plan will also be developed and annual updates from 2021 onwards will be put in place.  It is expected that major reports will be published in 2025 and 2030 identifying where goals have been completed, where stretch targets are on track and where there is a need for increased focus. For more information and links to the reports and discussion paper see the ALIA website https://www.alia.org.au/advocacy-and-campaigns/think-global-act-local

So watch this space for more updates on how Australian Libraries are delivering on the SDGs.


Jane Cowell, Chief Executive Officer, Yarra Plenty Regional Library, Australia


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.

Meet the candidates: Jane Cowell

Jane Cowell
Chief Executive Officer
Yarra Plenty Regional Library

I can bring a broad career experience to the Standing Committee that encompasses 20 years working in Public Libraries, including over 10 years as a Public Library Manager, significant strategic planning skills honed through four years as a national Library Consultant working with Public Libraries, State Libraries and Archives in developing future directions, and 8 years working as an Executive Director State Library of Queensland which included responsibility for Public Libraries, Rural Libraries Queensland (a service for very small regional local government Councils) and the Indigenous Knowledge Centres in the remote corners of the State.

I have also played an integral part in the research and Public Library policy development delivered at the State Library of Queensland in collaboration with the public libraries in the State.  This included, The Library Dividend: A study of the socio-economic value of Queensland public libraries, The Impact of Libraries as Creative spaces, and The First Five Forever early literacy program and I bring an excellent understanding of current issues, future opportunities and advocacy skills for Public Libraries today.

I have also participated in the wider Australian library industry sector and have served as President of the Queensland Public Library Association, a Director on the Australian Library and Information Australia board, participated on a national conference committee and State based library industry programs and projects, such as mentoring new Librarians.

My passion and enthusiasm for the impact that public libraries can deliver for all their communities abounds and I will bring energy, commitment and future based thinking to the role.

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

Margaret Allen, candidate for PLS SC


Many of you will know Margaret Allen from the Governing Board. Margaret has decided to turn her attention to her great love, public libraries. Read her story here


Name: Margaret Allen
Institution: State Library of Western Australia
Country: Australia (Perth, Western Australia)

What experience I will bring to the role of Standing Committee
As a member of the IFLA Governing Board from 2017, I have been part of the GlobalVision project and its development. GlobalVision provides a unique opportunity for the close connection between public libraries and their communities worldwide to be recognised and strengthened within IFLA.

Public libraries are the first to recognise and respond to social, technological, cultural and economic changes in our worldwide community. From technology skills, literacy and learning and access to books and information public libraries are vital to the cohesion and health of their communities. As State Librarian of Western Australia I understand the challenges faced by public libraries in their communities from large well resourced libraries to those that are the heart of very small communities with access to limited resources. The Section provides a vital and valuable role in connecting librarians and sharing their stories of challenge and success.

As a Committee member I bring a passion and enthusiasm for public libraries, connection to the strategic leadership of IFLA, an understanding of how the public libraries and the section are at the heart of IFLA’s Global Vision and a commitment to advancing their cause on behalf of the Public Libraries Section.

Cathryn Ferencz


Cathryn Ferencz has nominated for the Public Libraries Standing Committee. Cathryn hails from Geelong in Victoria, Australia.




Name: Cathryn Ferencz
Institution: Geelong Regional Library Corporation
Country: Australia

What experience will you bring to the role of Standing Committee Member?
I have chosen to work in public libraries because I believe the freedom to access a public library is essential for participation in all aspects of life. I am very proud to play a part in enabling social inclusion and contributing to the economic well-being of our communities by working for the provision of equal and unfettered access to knowledge, information and works of the imagination.

I do this by leading extraordinary teams of people in the development of collections in all formats, information services that provide lifelong learning opportunities, heritage services that preserve and provide access to the stories and treasures of our region and access to technology that enriches lives.

Our most recent project was the creation of the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre, an award winning library and cultural facility designed to meet the expectations of 21st century public library users by providing contemporary and innovative library and information services. http://modelprogrammer.slks.dk/en/cases/inspirational-cases/geelong-library-heritage-centre/

My role in this project was to develop, sponsor and strategically guide the implementation of the project plans for the collections, technology and integration of the Geelong Heritage Centre into Geelong Regional Libraries.

My name is Cathryn Ferencz (Cathy) and I am the Executive Manager, Collection and Technologies for Geelong Regional Library Corporation.

Indigenous Spaces in Library Places

Monica Galassi and Kirsten Thorpe from the Indigenous Services Unit launch the Strategy

Monica Galassi and Kirsten Thorpe from the Indigenous Services Unit launch the Strategy

The State Library of New South Wales (NSW) in Sydney (Australia) recently launched Indigenous Spaces in Library Places a strategy to provide Indigenous services across the State’s public library network. The program’s goal is to create interest and awareness on the way libraries across the state can engage and support Indigenous peoples and communities.

The  main objectives revolve around the concepts of Welcome, Support, Share, Include, Build and Collaborate and the Strategy (which can be downloaded from the website) provides practical and thoughtful assistance in implementing these.

A cohort of public librarians from across NSW are currently participating in Aboriginal Cultural Competence Training as part of this initiative with feedback from participants demonstrating strong engagement with the content.