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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Enterprising Librarian

Funding for libraries is not a given anymore. Support for School Libraries are not a given anymore. Just because the research proves that Teacher Librarians make a difference, doesn't mean that your school acknowledges this fact.In order for the School Library and Teacher Librarian to survive the digital revolution, they need to be enterprising.

What does this mean?

Identifying opportunities within the organisation to offer value and support the core beliefs or goals of the organisation. Resourcefulness is doing your homework and engaging with different areas within the organisation to achieve your goals. Being enterprising means to improvise, adapt and overcome the hurdles that are placed in front of us, while also offering value to the people who are using your service.

Throughout my study visit, I saw many different examples of how Libraries were being enterprising.

State Library taking the library to schools

Although the State Library provides a number of ongoing educational, archival and legal roles in NSW, the focus of its role has changed to compete with the demands of the digital world whist still remaining true to it’s rich heritage collections.

Enterprising librarians think outside the box and offer valued added services such as “library on site” that can take a range of artefacts and resources to a school region add value to their history curriculum. The Enterprising Librarian also looks for opportunities to dovetail into the needs or curiosity of the community. For example the the ongoing digitisation of rare World War 1 resources in time for the anniversary of ANZAC Day. This initiative is paired up with a social media communication plan to promote the collection. The need for a librarian with a marketing angle is clearly demonstrated here.

University of NSW changing the way the information desk works

University of NSW has turned their foyer into a Help Zone reminiscent of an Apple Store Genius Bar, with roving helpers, pods of computers to trouble shoot and an opportunity for a qualified librarian to provide just in time help to students. Abandoning the fixed circulation desk allows librarians that would normally be chained to the desk, the time to go out and support faculties in other areas.

Santa Sabina using Marketing techniques that work

The Teacher Librarian’s at Santa Sabina College have put in place a process to manage their Action Based Research Projects introducing innovative campaigns such as the Pee n’ Read initiative to encourage students to read the first page or two of a new book while they use the toilet. Rather than be locked into the one platform for their research projects, they use a range of tools and choose the best one for the task; be that Weebly, Libguides, Twigworld or Skwirk.


Overall my Sydney Study Visit has been a worthwhile visit with many an opportunity to follow-up on.  A good balance of both trail-blazer libraries and environments that were still stuck in the metaphorical dark ages.

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