Standards and Guidelines for Australian Public Libraries

ALIA have released their Standards and Guidelines for Australian Public Libraries

Written by Libraries Alive! it’s very good.

I like that it has been maintained that there must be a qualified librarian in every library.


There is at present in Australia no widely-agreed and implemented national measure for usage of electronic resources or virtual visits to libraries therefore no consistent data set from which to derive target figures. When agreed measures are implemented, and national data is available, the information will be incorporated in a subsequent edition of these standards and guidelines.


I think that there still needs to be more work in the area of gathering online visitor statistics.  This is probably a missed opportunity, if this is a standard and guidelines document, why not set some new standards. Some figures are easily collected, and this was an opportunity missed to formulate standards across libraries for their collection. While libraries continue to offer online services, they need to be recording their usage.

Given that there are some libraries with, for example,  ebook collections and some with none, also a minumum percentage of a collection in digital form could have been set.

ALIA Library and Information week 2011

Get your headstart now for Library and Information Week 2011 (which runs 23-29 May) and check out the resources available for you to use on the ALIA website to  help promote your library. The theme this year: We find stuff!

We find stuff!

Library and Information Week 2011 logo from ALIA

What activities will you be planning to highlight the many and varied ways that library users can find stuff in your library? ALIA has a few helpful suggestions to highlight what it is that you do that helps users find stuff:

We catalogue stuff!
We look up stuff!
We research stuff!
We know stuff!

What other things will you be adding to your lists?

And what will you be doing to celebrate the events that are taking place over the course of the week? Events for this year include National Library Technicians Day (Tuesday 24 May), National Simultaneous Storytime (Wednesday 25 May- further resources are available for the National Simultaneous Storytime event via the website) and Libraries celebrate Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea (Thursday 26 May).

More on the Australian floods

ALIA has been keeping track of how the flooding in both Queensland and Victoria are affecting libraries in the regions and have a compiled comprehensive lists of the Queensland libraries and Victorian libraries which have been affected. They also have a range of useful fact sheets dealing with disaster recovery and disaster planning as well as a few case studies. If your library doesn’t have a disaster response plan, now is the time to get started!

The effects of the flooding that is currently affecting our Queensland and Victorian colleagues are going to take some time to recover from. We wish all of the libraries affected a speedy recovery.

ALIA call for comments

“The final draft National Vision and Framework for Public Libraries is available for comment until close of business on Friday 29 October. Download the summary of the project, strategic overview, workplan and executive summary. Feedback should be emailed to” – From the ALIA website


Is it only me who noticed that Answer 6 of the Labor Party policy response to ALIA released today, was actually first written by the Australian School Library Association at:

Below is the ALP response, see if you can see the similarities

6. Will your party provide funding for the purchase of quality digital content for all Australians through the Electronic Resources Australia project?

Electronic Resources Australia (ERA) is a service to all libraries in Australia so that all Australians may have access to more databases and electronic information resources.

ERA started in 2007 and by 2009 there were 646 schools across Australia participating, as well as public schools and special libraries, tertiary institutions and state libraries. The subscription amount for each electrical resource database is determined by the number of subscribers/libraries who participate each year.

Approximately 7,000,000 Australians are served by libraries that subscribe to resources through ERA.

In 2009 the ERA, product panel was expanded from 9 to 25 products. There were also changes to the subscription periods. Libraries now have the ability to subscribe for a calendar year, which allows schools to work more easily within their budget periods.

ERA is, and will continue to be, the best value for money subscription service to the selected databases and any further databases that may be included in the future. While the poll is the mechanism to determine the cost of each data bases for the following year, it is possible to subscribe through the ERA without having participated in the poll. The greater the participation in each polling period – which usually opens in March and closes in April of each year – the greater the possibility of reduction of subscriptions.

Mandatory Filter – some history

First, China. Next: the Great Firewall of… Australia?
– New article in Time magazine on the government’s proposed mandatory Internet filter.
If you are unsure what the filter is, read the ALIA policy.

Minister Senator Conroy has long had an issue with safety for children on the Internet, one could even say he had a mission. It has been suggested that this whole mandatory filtering argument has a genesis in a gathering of 20,646 signatures in Australian churches by the Australian Christian Lobby organised and delivered through the offices of Stephen Conroy.

From Senate estimates on 23/05/2006 and on other occasions in Parliament we can see that libraries and the Internet is an area about which Senator Conroy personally feels very strongly. Libraries on the other hand feel very strongly about providing access to information, opposing censorship, as well as educating the public and children on how to stay safe online.

Senator Kate Lundy is also working on the subject of filtering and has written numerous blog posts on the issue. Senator Lundy is proposing an amendment to the manadatory ISP policy that will make the filter opt-in.

However, a report in the SMH today, has the opinion that the whole policy will be shelved until after the next election.
It will be interesting to see whether filtering appears in any party manifesto’s for this election.

ALIA Access 2010

Look what’s new at the forthcoming ALIA Access 2010 conference in September.

•Multi-sector conference (including public, health, specials, TAFE, new generation professionals)

•Program streams include interlibrary lending, LIS education, acquisitions, library leadership, information literacy

•Live video streaming for some sessions

•No plenary speakers

•Conference dinner voucher for local restaurants

•Bring-your-own satchel

•Complimentary Wireless Broadband Internet for all attendees and exhibitors

See that above, bring your own satchel, which is a polite term I am sure for – No free bag. What is the library world coming to when you can’t get an ugly free conference bag, where the strap fails after 2 weeks. I’m so not going now.
To find out more here’s the blog.

And here’s some suggestions for them.
Or maybe I shall just go buy my own, which will totally show them. Except I need to buy a minumum of 30, does anyone else want to go in on this?

Librarians unite with Google, Yahoo on censorship

ALIA, on behalf of librarians in Australia, has produced a statement here on Internet censorship in conjunction with the big Internet players.
It is worth reading it all, it’s quite short.

Here are the recommendations:

According to a large body of peer-reviewed research on the matter the most effective way to protect our children on the internet is achieved by adopting a strategy containing the following three Core Principles:

* Education: Properly funding a national comprehensive cyber-safety education program for children and parents on how to avoid inappropriate material and stay safe online. If any element of online safety is to be mandatory, it should be education.
* Policing: Significantly increasing and funding the level of oversight by the government and federal police focused on the locations, such peer-to-peer, where child sexual abuse materials are disseminated.
* Technical Measures: If the government and the broader political system are determined to implement technical measures as part of online safety efforts, then we believe Australia can learn from the approaches adopted in peer countries, particularly in Europe. The strong consensus internationally is for ISPs, police and government to work together in partnership targeting a clearly defined and narrow band of child sexual abuse material.

Under this filtering regime:

* there would be little to no impact on the internet.s performance or greatly increased costs to users;
* there would be an environment in which adults are able to choose whether to have their service filtered or not.

Internet and Libraries

Cybersmart poster for libraries

The Internet censorship debate continues across library land. A very good post by the President of ALIA is available at:
Obviously librarians are opposed to censorship of items which are not actually illegal, as is being proposed, but while we believe in a free Internet, it is also especially important for librarians to remember their primary role as guides, teachers, facilitators in all things Internet for the public.

We have responsibilities on both sides of this issue. We oppose unnecessary censorship out of principle, but must on the other hand give the public and expressly our library patrons the tools and knowledge to make the Internet a safe place for them and their families.

Public libraries in general all have Internet use policies that prohibit illegal or nuisance Internet use, in tandem with that they should also give practical guidance, training and direction on how to avoid risk and potential harm. Our role in doing this has been recognised by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

Libraries play an important role in providing internet access and advice to children, their parents, and other library users. To help library staff in this role, ACMA has developed a range of resources about how to manage risks so that library users have safe and positive experiences online

You can see some of the resources that they have developed in conjunction with ALIA at:

For public librarians and for those who work in public access areas the Cybersmart Guide for Library Staff is also useful. Available at:

While we are here, ACMA also promotes the Safer Internet Day which is on 9 Feb. The slogan for the day is: Think Before You Post
Now that really is something everyone should keep in mind. What you post on the Internet today will probably outlive you given that there are numerous web archives, and that search engines routinely makes copies of the entire web, and individuals also portions of it, and many companies retain ownership of content which you have uploaded (such as Facebook). Of course this is no reason to panic and never post anything, it is just to be aware of what you are posting.

Think before you post online poster

ALIA seeks feedback on a national vision and framework for public libraries

We would  like  to  hear  your  views  about  this  approach  to  creating  a  shared
vision and national framework for Australian public libraries.  Please feel free to
circulate  this  document  to  your  members  and  to  anyone  outside  your  own
organisation whose opinions would be valuable.

See the paper at:

I like:

We have so much to contribute to government priorities – social inclusion, community partnerships,
fairness and equitable access, support for working families, health, safety, well-
being, life-long learning and the digital economy.

Social inclusion – it’s what Libraries do, and not just because they are cool in summer and warm in winter.

As Senator Stephens said in a speech, discussing “the crucial role of libraries as community hubs, neutral spaces, places of learning and for gaining access to the internet and other sources of e-learning.”

Neutral spaces are a vital community factor, misperceived for their vitalness to society, for where else does it exist, no other covered public space remains where people may legitimately congregate without direct purpose. The old venues where all could freely mingle (the church, the market place) are no longer the hubs they were. One is no longer the institution visited by all, the other is now a large sterile commercial hub, mediated to seperate people from their money and from each other, and with security staff on guard specifically to prevent people congregating for any purpose other than bargain hunting.

This feeds into the concept of  ‘Library as place’ a little understood idea in Australia, but one widely studied and recognised in the US.

Libraries your passport to discovery

This week (25-31 May) is Library and Information Week and this year’s theme is “Libraries your passport to discovery”. ALIA says that this year’s theme seeks to highlight “the self-directed discovery element of libraries and to celebrate libraries as the place to access, communicate, connect, educate, entertain and inform.”

Mosman Library in Sydney is currently getting into the swing of Library and Information Week by pitting their reference librarian against *that* search engine. Each day during Libray and Information, a typical reference query will be issued to the library’s reference librarian (who will use items from the library’s electronic reference resources) and to their Internet and IT service librarian (who will use *that* search engine – yes, you know the one!).

Mosman Library vs that search engine

Mosman Library vs that search engine

Each librarian has 45 minutes to research the question and an additional 45 minutes to answer the query, as well as outline the search strategy that they employed to find the answer. You can follow the action – and vote for the winning search strategy and answers to the queries – on the Mosman Library vs that search engine challenge blog. Questions are posted to the blog daily at 10 AM (AEST), with answers posted at 12 noon. The winner will be announced on Monday 1 June.

ALIA New Librarians Symposium


The 4th Symposium was held in Melbourne last week, the website is here and the photos are here

It is worth keeping a watch on the website for when the papers go online.