May 31 saw the close of another week of library advocacy in Australia hosted by the Australian Library & Information Association (ALIA). The theme for Library and Information Week 2009 was Libraries your passport to discovery!, which was a great opportunity for our information profession to promote the value of libraries in today’s society. I noticed Sue Hutley‘s (Executive Director, ALIA) statement that “libraries offer every Australian a chance to discover, access and connect to a much wider world – and in these tough economic times, it’s a lot cheaper too!”, was a message that resonated through a number of comments in the media this week, including those of Robert McEntyre (Public Libraries NSW Metropolitan Association Executive Director) in the Herald article Book now: libraries are top shelf in family attractions by Rachel Browne (on May 31).
It was also great to see the words of Roy Crotty (fellow studentslearn blogger, President of ASLANSW and Associate Lecturer with us at the School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University – love the concluding quote in the article Roy:
“If anything, the digital era has made a teacher librarian’s job even more relevant.”
The ALIA media release highlights the cultural, educational and economic benefits to society afforded by libraries and information agencies, noting that each year “Australia’s 1,500 public libraries lend over 178 million items to 12 million registered borrowers” which is over half of Australia’s population. Additional figures quoted by Sue Huntley provide the public with an idea of the breadth of library services across the nation including “approximately 9,000 school libraries, 42 university libraries, 387 TAFE campus libraries, and thousands of health libraries, law libraries and other special libraries.” In addition, the Herald article Students can borrow to boost chances outlining public libraries’ support of school children’s reading habits through the provision of multiple copies of books on the Premier’s Challenge reading list each year, demonstrates how public libraries are ‘switched on’ to the needs of kids and in supporting school libraries to resource public programs that can sometimes be beyond the capabilities of an individual school library’s budget.
Sherman Young’s article Is the book dead? published on ABC’s Unleashed on May 26 and National Simultaneous Storytime on May 27 capped off a busy week for libraries, authors, publishers and booksellers in promoting the value of libraries, books, reading and literacy for all Australians.
An interesting antidote to the good work presented in the media this past week about the value of libraries in Australia, can be found in ABC’s Unleashed article The vulgar modernisation of our libraries (published at the end of April) is you missed it. Love to hear your feedback on any or all of the above!