Saturday, September 29, 2007

Read for your Life!

"Read for your Life" was the inspiration, and it just seems like the right time to do something for the "baby boomer" customers who it seems to me have the time and the inclination to read, but maybe because of constant work or study, have become disconnected from reading for personal pleasure (that happened to me when I was studying.) Here's my first attempt at defining the program:

Do you want to:

Get meaning and purpose from your reading?

Reconnect with reading?

Develop a reading plan?

Then join Livingstone Shire Librarian Debra Burn for a series of seminars that will inspire or re-ignite your love of reading. Three sessions will include:

1. How you will benefit from reading personally. By the end of this session you will be inspired to make reading a more rewarding part of your life!

2. How do you decide what to read? You’ll explore a number of tools and techniques for finding what to read, whether you like to read non-fiction, biographies, literature or in any other field of interest.

3. Putting it into practice. Tools and techniques for developing a reading plan, keeping track and enhancing the reading experience.

Debra is a qualified librarian with over 30 years experience of helping people find “a good read”.

When: TBA

Where: Yeppoon Library

Cost: Free!

...well, that's the first draft of the flyer. If anyone has done or knows of a similar program elsewhere, I'd appreciate any leads!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


It's that time of year again- annual statistical returns are due. While we are collecting and collating statistics all the time - for the quarterly reports to Council in particular but also just to collect stats about things we are just monitoring or curious about - it's quite an exercise to massage the figures for an outside third party (in my case, the State Library). (Actually that sounds a bit shifty, I'm not implying that I'm falsifying the stats in any way, it's just that the State Library wants stats in a slightly different format to how we collect them internally for our own information.) A lot hangs on how easy it is to extract the appropriate stats from your LMS - and from the emails I see on the Spydus list I think I can say that we all suffer the same anxieties - is our system really giving us reliable stats? Especially if your stats have fallen mysteriously, as many on the list have been noting. Or is it so mysterious? Are we actually (horrors) just lending fewer items? Well, that seems to be true for us. After what seems like decades of steady increases year to year (varying between 2-12% with a population increase of between 2 and 6%), I think the trend is definately establishing itself in the downward direction, despite steady population increases. It seems to be a state/national/international trend. So for instance, our total loans* for the last few years have looked like this:

03/04: 335,618; 04/05: 342,491; 05/06: 333,360; 06/07: 321,19

*Not including renewals. Although the State Library likes us to report on total loans INCLUDING renewals, for my own purposes I obstinately stick to "first loan" figures only. I just feel it's cheating to count renewals, since they are pretty much done automatically or increasingly by the borrowers themselves. And the figures with renewals will differ from library to library depending on loan period and how many renewals are allowed - this is just my little foible. No-one else cares.

Not so dramatic changes, and probably statistically insignificant at this stage, but still it was nice in the past to be able to point to consistently rising loan statistics (but of course now we point to rising Internet usage and attendances at library programs).

One of the interesting parts of the stats was collating the "Collection Performance" figures. Here's some interesting comparisons:

The top 7 collections ranked by absolute usage were:

1. Adult Fiction 33% of total loans
2.Adult non fiction 17%
3. Junior fiction 12%
4. Magazines 11%
5. Large print 9%
6. Music CDs 6%
7 DVDs 4%

That means that Adult Fiction and Adult Non-Fiction still accounted for 50% of total lending activity; print accounted for 86% of total loan activity, and av/audio/video accounted for 14% of total lending.

Here's some of the performance of our "minor" collections:

Adult Fiction Romance - 1.8% of total loans
Adult Sci Fi - 1.9%
Westerns - a whopping 2.4%! (Still lots of gentlemen who devour this genre, though logic tells us with the aging demographic this figure must surely be starting to drop!)
Graphic Novels - 1.7%
Young Adult - 1.6%
Junior Non-Fiction (a disappointing but not unexpected - hardly any kids need JNF for "assignments" any more, most JNF loans are for extracurricula interests) - 2.1%

The "hardest working" collection was the DVDs, with each item averaging 10.8 loans within the 12 months; closely followed by the Westerns (!?!!) (6.8); the music CDs (5.8); and a new entry from the fairly new graphic novel collection with 734 items being borrowed 4067 times averaging 5.5 loans each (and a lot more being read in house without being charged at verbYL).

So in summary, print is still a massively important part of our current business; with quality AV and electronic resources an important complement to our offering.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Libraries as 3rd Places- learn from China!

As we're hearing at various conferences lately, public libraries as third places (after work and home) is the new paradigm for service, but it seems someone has beaten us to it - with a for-profit library in China! "The Bookworm Chengdu comprises a library of 5000 (and growing) books in English, European Languages and Chinese, a full European restaurant , and a fully stocked bar with barmen trained in the arts of superlative coffee and cocktail making." Wow! AND a full program of poetry and book readings, scrabble competitions, free wireless Internet access, children's story times, as well as jazz and wine nights! How I wish I had one of THOSE libraries in MY neighbourhood! And I'm sure if I was a westerner working for any length of time in China, I wouldn't mind paying a small fee to borrow English language books, even if the collection was a little haphazard (I gather, mainly the result of Westerners donating stuff when they are leaving). How I came to hear about this is that my nephew, after several years of teaching English and working in hotels in various places in China, has just been offered a job there. I really encourage you to check out the web site - despite it being developed as a little cultural sanctuary for westerners working in China, I really think it has a lot of ideas to offer for our own (free) libraries, if we are serious about becoming this third space...third space as cultural sanctuary ...I'm rather jealous actually...

Monday, September 17, 2007

New libraries and other dreams

Here is a picture of the proposed new library for Yeppoon. This is the "concept" plan, basically the lovechild of myself and a wonderfully visionary architect Ian Brewster from Brewster Hjorth, based in Sydney, with some excellent NSW libraries under his belt, but more recently having won gigs in Queensland as well (including the new Cooroy Library I believe). This was all systems go until the big A - Amalgamation. So sadly (for me at least!) I may never see my "pet" project come to fruition - It's up to the new citizens (and their political representatives) of Rocktopia! - but the Mayor is doing his utmost to secure last ditch funding before our local authority disappears for good into the annals of history, to make it more attractive to the new administration, for which I am delighted and grateful. But in any case I shouldn't be sad - it's quite a career achievement to get it this far. The experience won't go astray. And the design does feature a never-been-done before library innovation that is wholly and solely my own idea - sorry. I'm not quite prepared to reveal it yet! I may yet get to incorporate it into this or another library, and I egotistically want to be the first!! Ever!! Que sera...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Gay teen fiction in libraries

Where to start when a young adult member requests gay YA fiction? Not that difficult. We already had copies of the series "Rainbow boys" which young people had discovered already. A quick Google search provided excellent lists: Great Gay Teen Books on the Alex Sanchez site; a very informative article in (where else?) Wikipedia; and for a foundation collection,'s Top 5 Gay Teen-Life Novels. We actually had a few of the titles already, and put them into our regular YA collection in the main library where they have enjoyed the popularity expected of any new YA novel. You have to look pretty hard to note that the book is a "teen gay novel" - take for example, "Geography Club" - absolutely nowhere on the cover or blurb are the words "gay" or similar used. But the blurb outlines the story subtly. Does it matter if a teenage reader is somehow "ambushed" into reading a gay novel because it isn't emblazened on the cover? The novels are sensitive, well written, not at all sexual, and are only going to offend those who have perhaps a religious objection. The themes of love, fitting in, coming of age and understanding will be valid for straight and gay readers alike. Are we "condoning" a particular lifestyle by providing these books to young people? Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is no longer legal, so regardless of our personal opinion, there is really no good reason to take this stance. It is again up to parents to guide their offspring's reading.

BTW the specific request actually came from the Youth Library via a support group supported by the Youth Worker which demonstrates again the utility of our unique partnership between Youth Services and Library Services.