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Central Western Queensland libraries are ready for the future!

By Administrator | 1 March 2017

What is the future of libraries? No one can know, of course, but that doesn’t stop us considering the question and related ideas. State Library’s Matt Finch and Tammy Joynson mulled over the topic with public library staff and community representatives on a recent visit to Central Western Queensland.

Our first stop on the road trip was Emerald for a day of professional development where 40 public library and Indigenous Knowledge Centre staff, along with representatives from various community groups, considered the development and delivery of public programs through community partnerships and held a roundtable discussion about finding and applying for grants, and, in doing all this, considered the importance of libraries heading into the future. After an energetic morning session where participants engaged in a creative role play activity to push the boundaries of libraries, ideas were many and free-flowing.

Diverse topics  including health and wellbeing, economic development, alternative learning, business support, collaboration, marketing and awareness, and youth development – were ultimately shaped into four key themes of community, technology, education and recreation through a process of group discussion and consensus. “We can make the impossible possible,” one attendee remarked.

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Library staff step into the shoes of others and experiment with library services and possibilities.

Library staff step into the shoes of others and experiment with library services and possibilities.

Our road trip continued to Barcaldine where the new library administrator Gay Gesch has already helped transition the library into a new building in her few months with Council. Next steps for her are sourcing updated user-friendly furniture and engaging community groups in the fresh space. Here, Council’s vision is community and the library’s mission is to be a “meeting place”, a place for all people to gather. The greatest need is to change the community’s old fashioned mindset of libraries is key to this goal, the library staff concur.

Further south in Blackall, we met with library and Council staff from both Blackall and Tambo libraries. Here, they say, technology is key to the future of libraries – and, ultimately, the region. Despite the difficulties that geography impacts upon access to the internet and other innovations, the libraries are well equipped with 26 computers per 10,000 people (the Queensland average is 5.46) as well as 12 iPads which are used both onsite and available for loan. Library staff say they are keen to get started with coding and robotics programs for all ages, and to assist seniors, in particular, to become more computer savvy.

Next stop is Longreach where the library administrator Carmen Brooke concurs that technology is crucial to a progressive library service. A recent addition to the library is an interactive table which, Carmen says, has been beneficial in bringing new users into the library. Coding and robotics classes using mBots and Edison robots are also regular features. And the future holds so much more – videography, virtual reality, drones – whatever’s new and on trend needs to be considered for upcoming projects.

The interactive table draws users in, and they leave much more aware of other library services.

The interactive table draws users in, and they leave much more aware of other library services.

In Winton, it’s all about places and spaces. The library is thriving with activity, and it stays that way all day long. The library has one of the highest issues per capita of the state, and is in urgent need of expansion.At the library’s request the Council is considering a potential expansion to provide a deck and messy area -pending the availability of funds. You, too, might like to consider your own library’s place in the Queensland public library landscape. This year, State Library will be consulting on a new vision for Queensland’s libraries. Have we e moved on since VISION 2017 for Queensland public libraries was developed in 2012?This vision focused on libraries as creative community spaces; connectors – physical and virtual; technology trendsetters; and incubators of ideas, learning and innovation. We will be asking you to think about our new vision ….. is anything missing?

In the meantime, you might like to share below your thoughts on the future of libraries in Queensland.


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