Joint use libraries in Australia: practitioner perspectives.
CHANGE, AND THE CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTOR IN SCHOOL COMMUNITY LIBRARIES IN SA
Glenys Aird Eudunda School Community Library South Australia
In the beginning, 1977, there was the vision and the vision was splendid. Free public library services were to be offered to small, remote, rural communities in South Australia.
Books were to be chosen by unseen selectors, catalogued by unseen cataloguers, delivered mysteriously each week, unpacked, displayed or shelved by conscientious community library aides and loaned to members of the community who hitherto had had to make do with dusty volumes from an institute subscription library.
Local government would match state government financial contributions, a qualified (teacher) librarian would oversee the operation housed conveniently in the local school library. This made more efficient use of the facilities, which would be open out of school hours, and resources, as the school library collection would be available to members of the community.
The impetus for establishment would come from the community itself, and would be ratified by a signed agreement between all parties. The introduction of school community libraries to South Australia would be thoroughly planned and implemented. To ensure its success, special advisers would be appointed. Their particular brief would be to develop in the teacher librarians a strong understanding of the dual nature of the library service they would provide, and the diplomatic balancing act that would be needed to succeed.
And as it was written, so it came to pass.
By 1991 there were 46 rural school community libraries in operation. Over 100,000 South Australians living outside the greater metropolitan area were, and still are, served by a network of joint use libraries as part of the statewide network of public libraries.
School community teacher librarians have been encouraged by repeated statements that school community libraries have succeeded in South Australia where they have failed elsewhere; that, in fact, they are world leaders in the field!
The criteria for judging success seems to be that, after twenty years, all are still operating and none have closed, but as Alan Bundy points out in Widened horizons (Adelaide, Auslib Press 1997) this was also true of the inadequate institute libraries that school community libraries replaced. I propose that the reason for the continuing success of school community libraries lies in the ability of the teacher librarians to respond to the ongoing and pervasive pressures of change, both in the library and education worlds, and the wider community.
Though the vision splendid may remain and inspire, in practice much has changed in the past twenty or so years.
The mid to late eighties saw the introduction of budgetary constraints by the state government in both the Public Libraries Division and the Education Department. Early casualties were advisory staff. Teacher librarians were cast adrift upon the troubled waters of bureaucratic change. In the Education Department (now the Department of Education, Training and Employment--Dete) responsibility for matters such as deployment of staff and budget decisions was increasingly devolved to school management.
In many cases teacher librarians felt powerless in the face of school pressures, especially in relation to staffing. Principals, with the final say over the deployment of staff in their schools, found it convenient to reduce school library assistant time. Community library assistants, with their hours guaranteed by a formula in the agreement, found themselves being required to take over more and more `school' work. Teacher librarians were timetabled to teach subjects or noncontact lessons. Teacher librarians who had come to rely on outside intermediaries missed the advisers, who had effectively undertaken the role of advocate on their behalf. Because school community libraries were different, officers in Dete were often unable to provide advice or support simply because they did not know.
A direct result of this withdrawal of departmental support was the formation of the Association of Community Librarians and Library Assistants (Aclla) in 1987. Its role was seen to be one of professional support and development, and to lobby the department on issues particular to school community libraries.
The problems inherent in running an association with members spread over vast distances are considerable, and it is to its credit that the association has continued and grown in strength for over ten years. The association now has a regular presence on what was called the School Community Libraries Committee (a Dete committee now called the Joint Use Libraries Committee) and Clasa (Confederation of Library Administrators of SA). It organises annual conferences for teacher librarians and community library assistants, and provides a strong, informal network of advice and support. Nevertheless, problems with staffing remain one of the most common sources of frustration and concern in South Australian school community libraries.
Budgetary constraints and State Library reorganisation also saw the demise of the Public Libraries Division which had provided centralised selection and cataloguing of resources, managed a central pool of items and organised the interlibrary loans system for the public libraries of SA. Its place was taken by Plain (Public Libraries Automated Information Network). Plain revolutionised the way school community libraries operated. The task of selection became the responsibility of the teacher librarian, interlibrary loan traffic became faster and increased in volume; links were made to the Bray Reference Library of the State Library; community information was provided; video loans became part of the service offered. For many teacher librarians, the `Plain computer' was their first introduction to information technology. The learning curve was steep indeed. Technological change was, and is, also the dominant theme on the school front. Many school community libraries installed automated cataloguing and circulation systems during the late 80s to early 90s. Some were compatible with Plain, some were not. Having mastered this, teacher librarians moved on to providing information on cdrom and the intricacies of cd towers and stackers and networking.
And the pace continues. All school community libraries are now about to step onto the information super highway via the internet, if they have not already done so. As teacher librarians grapple with routers, hubs, ethernet cards and the like, they are also considering the implications of providing free, uncensored, public access to the internet in a school setting where they have a clearly defined, legal role of duty of care to all students.
The rate and scope of technological change affecting the school community library is another source of concern and stress to teacher librarians. Little thought appears to have been given to the space requirements of school community libraries at the beginning. However, collections have grown and new services been added, and the physical space taken up by computers, printers, scanners etc is causing crowding in most libraries.
A major population increase above the 3000 identified as optimum for the successful operation of a school community library is also a factor in at least two libraries. Overcrowded facilities raise an interesting issue regarding the ownership of the school community library. Dete owns the building and manages its maintenance and associated costs, but sees its responsibility purely in terms of providing a facility for school use. Local government, which presumably has the interests of its community at heart, is reluctant to spend any money on capital works to a building it does not own. The teacher librarian and the local board of management are neatly caught between a rock and a hard place.
Crowded facilities are a major concern of most teacher librarians in South Australian school community libraries.
The last ten years have also seen a redefinition of the role of the teacher librarian in schools. Changes in educational methodologies have moved the teacher librarian to a central position in the learning and teaching process. Strategies such as resource based learning and cooperative programming, planning and teaching have had a significant impact on their workload.
In addition to these pressures, the teacher librarian in a school community library is exhorted to apply benchmarking standards, to develop marketing plans, to run housebound services and holiday programmes, to promote the library in the local press and at community groups, to develop a focus on customer service, to plan for continuous improvement and possibly, in the future, to competitively tender to run the library service. A heavy workload, and high expectations contribute to feelings of stress among teacher librarians in school community libraries
The theme of change continues in the wider world. The rural recession has had a real impact on small isolated communities. Government services, banks, small businesses have disappeared from country towns. Community characteristics have also changed as people have arrived looking for cheaper housing and alternative lifestyles. Employment possibilities are shrinking and young people must leave the district to find jobs. The total populations are slowly reducing in many SA communities.
Against this picture of decline, many local government councils have been expected to amalgamate in the hope of rationalising expenditure and services. With a reducing rate base, many authorities are reluctant to commit themselves to extra expenditure on a public library service. And yet it is the service provided by the local school community library, with its focus on new technology and opportunities provided by access to the internet, that offers rural communities the chance to grow and reach out past the boundaries of isolation.
Teacher librarians in school community libraries, almost without exception, are convinced of the importance and value of the service they provide to their communities. They have a strong sense of social justice and believe that their communities deserve a public library service comparable to that available to their city counterparts. This belief and commitment on the part of teacher librarians is the single most important factor in the continuing success of school community libraries in South Australia.
SEAFORD LIBRARY, CITY OF ONKAPARINGA SA: A NEW MODEL
Albert Bergoc, Seaford Library South Australia
Seaford Library is a joint venture between the City of Onkaparinga and the Department of Education Training and Employment (Dete) with initial establishment support from Seaford Joint Venture (developers). This relatively new library service has operated only since 1997, but the planning, negotiations and establishment are the result of seven years work. Over this time there were many concept changes, change in players and obstacles overcome. The result is a modern, purpose built facility that embraces both current and future needs of the Seaford 6-12 School and the community.
Seaford Library is a one level, 1500 sq metre building situated in the centre of the western side of the Seaford 6-12 School grounds, overlooking large, open, landscaped public recreation grounds. It is within walking distance of a large shopping centre, ecumenical centre, health service, private school, childcare centre and recreation centre in a extensive new housing development area.
The establishment, management and operation of the library, its resources and its services in relation to the school is governed by a joint agreement between the City of Onkaparinga and Dete called the Joint Use Deed. What this document makes immediately obvious is that the school is outsourcing its library service and that the local authority is providing this service on a contractual basis. This is a unique model and could be considered a somewhat radical approach by those used to a more conservative school library service view. It does, however, deliver many benefits to both parties.
First, let us examine the agreement in terms of the physical structure of the library and its assets (excluding bookstock and other loanable materials). The library was constructed on property belonging to Dete and total construction costs were funded equally by both parties. This has resulted in the realistic view that both parties `own' the library. The initial term of operation is twenty years with a renewal option for a further twenty years, or such other period that both parties may agree. The length of the initial term indicates the strength of commitment of both parties to this new model and enhances the perception that `we are in this together for the long haul'.
All equipment in the library was purchased through funding that reflected the relative proportional use of the equipment. Initially it was necessary to estimate the proportional use of equipment but future contribution to be made by each party would be made relative to measured use. All assets are recorded in an up to date and accurate inventory which clearly shows the respective equipment share's of the parties. All equipment is depreciated in accordance with council's usual accounting practices and standards and the total of each party's relative share of the depreciated amount is paid into a replacement fund. The replacement fund is used for the accumulation of funds for the purpose of repair and replacement of all library equipment. This agreement ensures that both parties contribute their proportion to the replacement fund, annually securing funds to enable equipment to be repaired or replaced when required.
In regard to operation and maintenance costs, both parties have agreed that the relative contribution to be made is calculated with regard to the proportional use of the library for school and community purposes. For the first year both parties agreed that the proportional shares be equal.
Bookstocks and other information materials and resources are purchased by the individual parties and ownership easily identifiable. All collections are managed by the library staff although there is collaboration with school staff in some areas with regard to school material, predominantly in the area of selection. The joint agreement dictates the proportion of the school's total budget that will be allocated annually for the purchase of information materials and resources.
All staff of the library are employed by the local council. The council has complete discretion and control at all times and determines the number, qualifications, duties and functions and the terms and conditions of employment. The council has, however, agreed that a registered teacher/s be employed to meet any specific teaching needs of the school. Staff costs are determined by the parties through the consideration of fair proportions calculated with regard to conditions agreed to in the joint agreement.
This is one particular area where the model of service varies from more traditional models and advantages have already been identified.
First, having all library staff employed by one body means that everyone works under the same conditions for the same employer. This avoids potential conflicts and disruptions in situations where a group of workers, employed by different bodies, work to agendas that they perceive to be different.
Secondly, the registered teacher employed by the library is a council employee whose duties and functions are determined by the library manager. They have no formal contact teaching time in the classroom and are not answerable to the school's principal. This certainly eliminates the dilemma faced by many, if not all, teacher librarians, of successfully balancing work in the library with teaching commitments.
Thirdly, teaching staff are very receptive to utilising any resource where teaching outcomes are more effective and/or easier to achieve. With Seaford Library, teachers see a model where professional library staff, with resources far greater than a traditional school library, are committed to supporting the diverse needs of the full range of the school staff. The challenge for the library staff is to exploit every conceivable opportunity that presents itself to answer those needs.
Finally, all senior staff in the library are employed on a contract basis where renewal of contract is dependent on performance, achieving set objectives and the future direction of the library service.
The definition and scope of the library service to be provided to the Seaford 6-12 School is defined by the document entitled school services specification (an appendix to the joint use deed). This document clearly defines what activities and services the library will provide to the school and specifies the performance indicators that will measure the success of the library in meeting its objectives. The school services specification is reported on annually and reviewed collaboratively by both parties for necessary modification. This document presents library staff with clear objectives for meeting the needs of the school with an agreed process of measuring performance and outcomes.
The result of a comprehensive planning process is the joint agreement which guides and directs the actions of both parties with regard to the library. However the critical component to the success of the implementation of the agreement and the library service at large, is the commitment of both parties. To this end, both parties have nominated a representative who is responsible for regular liaison and communication between parties in relation to all matters concerning the management and operation of the library.
Further to this, the representative of each party has the vested authority of the party they represent with regard to all areas of responsibility as documented in the joint agreement.
Representatives for the parties are the library coordinator and the Seaford 6-12 School principal. This is an ideal situation as both are onsite, have established communication channels, are in every day contact with the needs of all players and, most importantly, are committed to cooperating to make the Seaford model a success.
This model of joint use library service has great merit because it goes beyond the advantages, both real and potential, offered by more traditional models. The joint agreement was carefully compiled and agreed to by both parties who wanted to maximise advantages for themselves in a collaborative venture where both could claim a `win'.
Both parties are also working in an environment where economic rationalists have the loudest voice and where terms such as `increased productivity' and `service efficiency' proliferate. The joint use model as established at Seaford Library has the potential to deliver all the advantages sought by both parties. To the library staff now falls the task of proving the potential.
COOPERATION, COMPROMISE, COMMITMENT: A JOINT USE LIBRARY IN AN ISOLATED AREA OF TASMANIA
Helen Dunford The Robert Sticht Memorial Library Queenstown Tasmania
Given the rapidly escalating costs of both library services and education is it still possible to supply adequate services in remote areas of Australia? Or will the information poor of the online society turn out to be not the financially disadvantaged, but those who live in the `outback' in a rapidly changing world?
The solution which immediately appeals is that of a joint use library. But in the rush to save money it is often introduced without sufficient planning, only to have a high rate of failure and consequent negative publicity and resistance from within and without the library profession.
In 1978 a Schools Commission report entitled Cooperation or compromise: school/community libraries in Australia investigated the factors which affect the establishment of joint libraries. Twenty years on, the Robert Sticht Memorial Library in Queenstown, one of those included in this study, remains as a thriving community resource.
Indeed it has added a third user to its partnership in 1998 with the opening of the online access centre within the building. Its operation emphasises that cooperation and compromise as well as a passionate commitment at a local level result in an effective community library.
A community resource
Queenstown, an isolated mining town on the rugged west coast of Tasmania, is particularly suited to the development of a joint use library. Geographically isolated by the harsh terrain, the mining pioneers, drawn together by the uncompromising conditions, developed a socially united and self reliant community which valued education highly. A ten year campaign began in 1903 to establish a school of mines (now Tafe) and a public library in the town. A pamphlet advertising a public meeting to discuss the issue in 1909 made much of the fact that a public library and a technical institute were `necessary complements, one of the other'.
By 1913 Queenstown had its school of mines and its public library, thanks in part to the efforts of mine manager and metallurgist Robert Sticht, who owned an extensive private library and art collection. So highly was Sticht regarded that the town's library was named the Robert Sticht Memorial Library in his honour only four years after his death. Despite changes in location, the Queenstown library continues to bear his name.
When the original school of mines building was replaced by the new technical college in 1977, the community was supportive of the proposed plans for a combined library in the new building. A large pentagonal library was included in the plans, not designed specifically to save money, but rather to spend funds more effectively and provide residents with a more equitable service.
The choice of site was a critical part of the library's success. The school of mines was located on a main street close to the centre of town and easily accessible. The library itself was then placed at the front of the complex with the main entrance directly onto the street and additional access from teaching areas. In this way, members of the public do not feel as if they are `trespassing' on Tafe premises to get to the library.
While the two entrances pose some minor problems in terms of security, the main concern is for maximum use to be made of the resources, even if this does result in some losses.
Community support rallied particularly strongly in 1992, when budget cuts threatened to curtail the opening hours of the library. A Friends of the Robert Sticht Memorial Library group was formed, with the current mine manager as its patron and an intensive publicity and lobbying campaign successfully averted the threats--for the time being. The Friends group continues to function, sponsoring guest speakers, information days and booksales. The library is also a member of the local tourism association and was the first library in Australia to be registered as an Aussie Host Gold Business signifying excellence in customer service. The Friends would rapidly respond with action again in the event of further threats to `their' library.
And again in 1995, with the announcement of funds for `Networking the nation', the Queenstown community was among the first in Tasmania to take up the concept of community controlled online access centres located in libraries and providing computers, printers, scanners, internet access and training at no cost in isolated areas. A steering committee was formed and within a matter of weeks Queenstown was officially online!
Brown claims to be naive enough to believe that
... any management structure, no matter how poor, can be made to work provided there is sufficient goodwill on both sides, and conversely that any management structure, no matter how technically perfect, will fail if one of the parties, consciously or unconsciously wants it to do so.
This is probably right. No matter how much planning, community consultation and legislative backing go into the establishment of a joint use library, its ultimate success or failure must depend on the calibre of the staff, on cooperation compromise and commitment.
Even so, it is essential that the responsibilities of each party are precisely defined prior to commencement of the service. A formal agreement covering every eventuality from `who pays for the stamps?' to `what happens if the librarian breaks a leg?' was drawn up by the initial resources management committee and remains in place with only minor alterations. This committee worked for four years prior to the intended opening to ensure that lurking gremlins were kept to a minimum.
The combined library at Queenstown has been able to take advantage of the synergy effect in that the total service is more than the sum of the parts, particularly with the addition of the online centre. Much duplication is avoided while the total stock is larger and has greater depth and variety than either library alone would be able to afford. As well, we have online access to the statewide resources of both the public library and Tafe together with the additional computer facilities and internet access of the online centre.
It is not possible to segregate tasks and allocate them to staff members paid by the relevant authority. The library is a single entity in which staff need to understand the complete system, thereby becoming multiskilled and making the job more interesting. However there is a temptation to overload staff with even more `interesting' jobs.
Although it may be difficult to find the right person and convince them to come to an isolated community, the librarian in charge is the lynchpin of the combined library. This person needs commitment, a sense of humour, flexibility and the adaptability to withstand constant surprises and gremlins. Ability in public speaking or acting is also helpful, as it may be necessary to deliver class orientation lessons for Tafe students in front of critical members of the public or read stories to groups of tiny tots in the middle of a gaggle of grinning teenage students. The resilience to bounce back from mishaps and boundless energy to cope with the demands of two library systems complete the specifications. It has been to the credit of the selection panels that the four librarians who have guided the library since 1977 have scored highly on these qualities.
A joint use library is most appropriate in small, isolated rural centres where, with community support, the combined library can play a very active role in linking people to the world regardless of geographic location. With the Tasmanian government's current emphasis on one stop shop service delivery it is likely that combined facilities will find increased favour with the it in future.
And, as with the Robert Sticht Memorial Library at Queenstown, real success will come only from freely sharing resources in a cooperative way, from accepting that there will be differences of opinion, compromising, and from believing wholeheartedly that the system will work and committing to the challenge of making it do so.
More than any other library, the joint use library is a community library and its strength lies in the value placed on it by the community.
 Dywer, J Cooperation or compromise; school/community libraries in Australia Adelaide, Schools Commission 1978
 Bundy, A Widened horizons: the rural school community libraries of South Australia Adelaide, Auslib Press 1997
 O'Leary, J Worthy of a place like Queenstown: the establishment and development of technical education in Queenstown 1905--1921 Unpublished thesis submitted in fulfilment of requirements for History 6C, Bachelor of Arts, University of Tasmania 1987 p35
 Brown A Joint use libraries in colleges: new directions in Tafe in Joint use libraries in the Australian community, Proceedings of a national workshop Melbourne 13-15 August 1980 Canberra, National Library of Australia 1981
METHOD AND MADNESS: THE DEVELOPMENT OF A TRIPARTITE LIBRARY IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Deb Hamblin Rockingham Regional Campus Community Library WA
Rockingham Regional Campus Community Library, situated 60 kms south of Perth, opened its doors to the public on 9 February 1998. An innovative project, it combines the resources of three primary stakeholders, Murdoch University, South Metropolitan College (SMC) of Tafe and the City of Rockingham.
Murdoch University had been given approval to develop a campus in the area because of a shift in federal government policy which favoured development of regional campuses where population growth was high, participation in tertiary education was low and where universities would work closely with Tafe. After years of planning, it has been cooperation and collaboration by the three parties that has ensured the success of the project. However the project has not been without its sceptics.
This paper outlines the planning procedures and the resultant practical applications that have made the joint venture such a challenging opportunity. Finally it outlines the benefits that the stakeholders, the community and the library staff have finally seen come to fruition.
In late 1994 the first library discussions took place between the parties involved. Tafe and the City of Rockingham already had a joint facility running out of the Tafe college. Murdoch University had just been given approval to develop the regional campus and the Tafe college was in need of extra administrative space on its campus. So the possibility of meeting the combined needs of Tafe and the university was present from the beginning. A number of planning committees were put in place to oversee the development. These involved library staff from the three stakeholders as well as input from the Library and Information Service of WA (Liswa) which administers public library collections within the state. Much of the discussion revolved around the planning of the purpose built library building that had to service the needs of three quite diverse client groups. The diversity of the public, Tafe and Murdoch University mix has, in fact, turned out to be quite compatible. For example, the public patrons have not been threatened by large groups of students descending on the library, which is the situation in some school based joint libraries.
The working party also put considerable emphasis on the location of the library within the campus. Traditionally academic libraries are placed in the middle of the campus. To ensure that the public and Tafe patrons would not feel intimidated by having to walk through the campus, the library building was strategically located next to a major road and surrounded by ample parking. The planning phase was critical to the success of the venture. All eventualities needed to be discussed and a heads of agreement document was signed which stipulated not only how the joint venture would operate but also what strategies could be put in place if the marriage ended--a new prenuptial agreement!
I took a secondment from Murdoch University to SMC Tafe in December 1996 to manage its joint library with the City of Rockingham. During this time I realised the only way the joint venture would work was if all staff were employed under the one award. The situation, as it existed then, was that each partner employed and paid its own staff. Some staff worked 35 hours a week and others worked 37.5. Some had public holidays, some did not. More importantly, staff members were demoralised and Tafe staff would only do Tafe work, and City of Rockingham staff would only do public library work--so much for a seamless service. The working party looked at the three awards on offer and it was decided that all staff would fall under the Murdoch University award. Permanent staff members were offered positions in the university and the three unions were involved to ensure that no one was disadvantaged by the move. All but one member of staff chose to accept the offer and she was found a position in another city branch. We needed to ensure that all staff employed in the new facility were client focused and committed to offering a seamless service to all our patrons. This meant a reeducation on some fronts, which was achieved by running planning days and professional development programs focusing on seamless service.
To ensure that some accountability was to be recognised, a policy advisory committee was set up to ensure the interests of all parties were looked after and to assist the campus librarian to develop policies for the joint library. The committee, which meets quarterly, consists of the librarians from the three stakeholders, a user representative from each party, the campus librarian and the pro vice chancellor responsible for the Rockingham campus. In the first year of operation it has been agreed that the three parties would each pay one third of the operating budget. Tafe and Murdoch University provide funds for the book budget and the city materials are provided through the State Library exchange collection. Division of the operating budget has yet to be decided and is still part of the madness that needs to be worked through.
Politically it is very difficult to keep three different sections of the library community happy when they are sharing the same house. Also, each of the three partners has other branches. In the early days it was assumed that miraculously the joint library could somehow fall into line with each and every policy of each and every partner simultaneously. For example the issue of which automated library system to adopt was an extremely sensitive one.
Murdoch University uses Innopac, the Tafe collection is on the Dynix system and the City of Rockingham had never automated the joint library collection. This collection was loaned using the Browne card system. The rest of the City of Rockingham uses Dynix. It has taken much negotiation, but we are finally making progress. The City of Rockingham records are now loaded onto Innopac. To date, the Tafe records are still on Dynix but work is underway to transfer holdings to Innopac. I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of having one system for searching and circulation. It was suggested early on that we could use Dynix on the first floor and Innopac on the second floor, with no thought for the staffing implications. The library is open for 61 hours a week and staffing two circulation desks for that period of time would have a profound effect on the budget. Even now, we need to run from one terminal to another if a patron has a number of public, Tafe and university books.
The collections are interfiled and available to every user. The only restrictions are on reserve items. There are similar loan rules for all the materials. However, journals have proven to be another interesting point of debate. Commonly, university libraries do not lend journal issues. Tafe, on the other hand, does not have the same research requirement, and lends individual issues and volumes of journals. The compromise was to have the majority of journal issues for loan, and only nominated journals marked `not for loan'. A list of criteria is yet to be developed regarding which items will not be available for loan.
Even agreeing on the name of the library required numerous meetings. People argued over every word. Eventually we settled on Rockingham Regional Campus Community Library, hoping to incorporate both its location and its usage with this name.
It is proving difficult to find any meaningful way of dividing up the operating costs, which is presently organised via a three way split. We originally thought that the division could be based on occupancy but the usage patterns of the three parties are quite distinctive, making occupancy not a particularly accurate gauge of the impact on the library.
Members of the public are by far the greater number of users but their usage pattern is such that generally they come in, choose their books and leave. University students, on the other hand, will use the library for hours on end and have far more in-depth reference queries. Tafe use the library for many of their flexible delivery classes and also require a more extensive orientation program and reference service than public patrons. We will need to think creatively about how we will charge fairly for our services.
The benefits of this joint venture to the three stakeholder groups and the community at large are many
* the City of Rockingham now has a major library for significantly reduced capital outlay
* the City of Rockingham saved money by being able to close two of its libraries while still being able to offer a better service
* Tafe has a vastly improved library facility that is being utilised far more that it ever was at the old site
* Tafe administration gained more space when the library moved to new premises
* Murdoch University achieved a university library for half the normal cost
* the newly established Murdoch University School of Engineering has a modern engineering collection which is supported by the classics from the already existing Tafe collection
* all three user groups have greatly improved bookstocks and costs of duplication have been minimised
* being a new modern facility the library has attracted over 1500 new members since opening in February. These are not patrons that have used other libraries but people who had never joined any library in the City of Rockingham before
While the challenges involved in establishing our joint venture library have been many, they have definitely been worth the effort. The staff are a committed, dedicated team of people who believe wholeheartedly in the seamless service that they deliver. This is one of the most important elements to success which, because of the collaborative nature of the exercise and the cooperation invested by each party has led to a more successful joint venture than any of us imagined. We have established even closer ties between the partners and our patrons have access to information resources that each stakeholder group would never have achieved individually.
THE HUB LIBRARY, CITY OF ONKAPARINGA SA
Sue Perkins The Hub Library City of Onkaparinga SA
The recently amalgamated City of Onkaparinga Library Service has three joint use libraries, developed under three very different agreements. Two of these, The Hub and Seaford are school community libraries. The third, Noarlunga, is a joint use Tafe library.
The Hub Library building is about to be extended and its agreement is being reviewed after nearly fifteen years of operating. The Hub Library operates under a cooperative agreement between its parent bodies with a manager who is jointly employed by and responsible to both partners for separate budgets and staff employed by each agency.
The Hub Library was planned as a joint venture between the then Education Department of South Australia and the District Council of Meadows in 1982/83. By the time it was opened in July 1984 and as a result of a council boundary change, the partnership was between the Education Department of South Australia and the City of Happy Valley, a new outer urban/semi rural community with a proliferation of young families and a population of around 23,000. Fourteen years down the track it services a district population of 38,000 residents and the 1300 students and 100 staff of Aberfoyle Park High School. Since council amalgamations in July 1997 it is now part of City of Onkaparinga Libraries.
I was appointed to the position of manager, and as a senior teacher of the school, when the high school opened in January 1984 and siteworks for the new library had just commenced. A prerequisite for the job was that I should have qualifications and experience both as a teacher librarian and a public librarian. I have held the position since that time under a series of renewable contracts. Under the terms of our agreement the Education Department and City Council contribute equally to my salary. Until recently I reported directly to the city manager and high school principal for day to day management issues and was part of the senior management team of both organisations.
The council amalgamation in 1997 has resulted in a rather more complex reporting structure within that organisation.
In 1984 Aberfoyle Park High School opened as a new secondary school in a young community, built as part of a district centre combining a shopping centre, council offices, YMCA, professional services, sports grounds and clubs, primary schools, kindergarten and child care centre. It was established with a brief to interact and share facilities with the community. These shared facilities include a community theatre, YMCA gymnasium, oval and the community library.
The library is sited on the boundary of the school adjacent to the Hub shopping centre, former Civic Centre and YMCA, with the current single entrance being off a rather steep mall which runs through the centre of the school. The area is 880 sq metres on one level with use of a further 70 sq metres on a lower level by courtesy of the school since the space shortage has become acute.
By industry standards a space nearer to 1600 sq metres would have been more appropriate for this size operation. Within two years both shelf space for resources and work space for library users and staff had exceeded comfortable limits. The early 1990s witnessed a drawn out struggle to persuade the participating funding parties to cooperate in bringing about a larger facility.
The extension to become available in 1999 will increase the area to 1400 sq metres, still barely the minimum requirement to meet basic service standards. In addition to adequate space provision, issues which have been addressed in the lengthy consultation and planning process include provision of a separate and more convenient entrance for community patrons, a degree of separation of areas used mostly by class groups from those areas used mostly by community patrons during the school day, and provision of a meeting facility which can be accessed independently from the library foyer while the library is closed.
However at the time of writing this paper the project is temporarily on hold while the City of Onkaparinga explores the feasibility of including additional space to incorporate a council customer service centre within the building. If all parties agree to proceed with this new initiative the date for the commencement of siteworks will be delayed until early December 1998.
The joint use agreement is a relatively simple document, adequate for the times in 1984 but now under review to reflect changing structures and needs resulting from the council amalgamation, the funding equation for the building extension project, the more stringent economic times, and particularly lessons learnt over the years.
The agreement is a statement of intent in simple language establishing general principles about who is responsible for what, then relying on negotiation and good management to work out the details. In the general give and take which has ensued, use of resources has been maximised. Council has provided the computer system for the library catalogue and circulation. The school has provided public and student access computers in the library for internet and word processing and other applications linked to the school's Novell network. The Friends of the Library use the school's computing centre as well as the library to run after hours computer courses for the community, with volunteer tutors. The school and the council have both provided items of audiovisual equipment which are available from the library.
Under the agreement, matters of policy are determined by the library management committee which is comprised of three nominees of the school council and three nominees of the city council. The committee elects its chairperson from within the group and any unresolved issues must be referred to the Minister for Education and the Minister for Local Government for resolution--this has never been necessary.
While the agreement excludes quantification or direction about how its principles are to be implemented, it has served adequately in most respects over the years, relying on goodwill and good communication between parties who have a fair level of awareness of each other's operation. However shortcomings have become evident in recent years, particularly in relation to staffing of the library and funding of facility upgrades.
Since the amalgamation, it is also out of kilter with the other libraries in the network for whom operating policy relating to such issues as hours of opening, fees and charges and code of conduct for users is largely determined by a library management team for the network, consisting of branch managers and network wide team leaders. Where appropriate such policies are then ratified by the city council. In our case, theoretically, such policies should instead be approved by the library's management committee before implementation.
Staffing and budgets
With respect to resourcing, the agreement stipulates that each party shall provide both staffing and resources as it would for its own single user group. It dictates that the library shall be open to all users during all of its opening hours and simply states that the `council and the Minister (for Education) shall provide sufficient staff to enable the library to operate efficiently'. Nothing is included about how staff are selected nor who determines what is `sufficient'. Therefore the normal staffing procedures of both the education department and council have been adhered to.
In the case of council employed staff, this has meant that selection on open advertisement and merit has been the norm. However, on the education department side, apart from the first three years of the new school when intending staff had to apply for appointment to Aberfoyle, positions have been filled under the normal transfer process, in some cases with the transferee not wanting to work in a joint use situation and having no idea of what would be involved. I believe that any new agreement must therefore specify that all staff are to be selected on merit after open advertisement.
Staff are currently employed by two different authorities. This has not mattered as much as people have expected. There is a clear recognition of the specialised role of the teacher librarians within the team and of the need for them to be a part of the school staff and culture. It has been school policy from the beginning at Aberfoyle that everyone, even the principal, shall have a classroom teaching role. We currently have three teacher librarians whose classroom teaching component reduces their full time equivalent teacher librarian time to 2.3 ties. The benefit from this in general terms is the enhanced profile which the teacher librarians gain in terms of their credibility with their teaching colleagues, their first hand knowledge of at least some curriculum areas, and their closer contact with student learning needs.
There is acceptance by council employed staff that teacher librarians need to be at work during the school day rather than on evening or weekend shifts, and recognition of their specialised roles in resource based learning, student behaviour management and duty of care. Teacher librarians also need to be part of the life of the school, involved in extra curricula activities and participating in committees and policy formulation. This happens more easily if they remain employed directly as teachers and are clearly part of both the school and library staff. However there is merit in employing all other staff under the one authority.
By negotiation, the separate budgets for equipment and resources, which are both under the library manager's control, have been maximised and have generally managed to achieve the desired outcomes. Both school and community have access to scanners, laser printing (including colour), fax service, black and white and colour photocopiers, multiple computers with internet, cdroms and network access with a range of the latest applications. This has been achieved by careful juggling of the two budgets and making all technology available to all user groups rather than having resources which are locked up after hours or reserved for one user group only.
Looking back after nearly fifteen years in the job, the fact that I have stayed so long is partly a measure of the support I have received from both the cooperating parties and from the community and partly because we have all been working determinedly for the last six years towards the building extensions which always seemed to be `just around the corner'. It has also been a great community with which to work. We have had tremendous support from the Friends of the Library and their volunteers. An indication of this is that community fundraising for the building upgrade has reached over $200,000. Their involvement, however, has gone far beyond just fundraising.
The toy library was established early on from community funding and with a volunteer committee and workforce. Happy Valley Council's community arts programs were coordinated through the library with a high level of community involvement and in liaison with local music, theatre and craft groups. The Friends' community computer courses have been very popular, while regular volunteers make home service deliveries, maintain community information displays, process and repair library materials and run regular booksales. The school council and administration has also welcomed this involvement and willingly made school facilities and resources available to the community.
Looking forward, 1999 will be challenging and exciting. We will be working on a building site requiring us to pack up and move three times before we are finally set up in the expanded facility. A review of all services will feed into the negotiations for the new joint use agreement which should be complete at about the time the building is handed over. The challenge for the negotiators will be to retain the essential elements of flexibility and goodwill and to acknowledge the strengths of the local culture and community whilst providing a firm base from which the library can move forward as part of the wider network in the next decade.
MINTO COMMUNITY LIBRARY: ALIVE, AND HERE TO STAY
Cathey Shepherd Minto Community Library NSW
Minto Community Library was the first joint use library in New South Wales to be planned and built as such. This planning was the result of wider cooperation between the Campbelltown City Council and the Department of Education. During the 1960s the Macarthur Development Board laid the foundation for the rapid development of the Campbelltown region. As a response to this imminent growth, in the early 1970s the Campbelltown City Council approached the NSW Department of Education with a view to determining which areas of activity suggested potential for cooperation. Initially the areas identified were playing fields, community halls and libraries. The largest joint venture adopted was the building of the community facilities at Minto.
Now, eighteen years on, the library is still operating, but the road has not been smooth. There are still a number of factors that need to be addressed before it can be judged a resounding success.
Located in the Campbelltown area, Minto is an outer suburb to the southwest of Sydney.
The centre is situated adjacent to a large NSW Housing Commission development and serves both this area and surrounding areas of new private housing, as well as the older established village. The present population of Minto is 11,752 (1996) with a further radius population of 31,316 (1996) which includes the suburbs of Eschol Park (3405), Minto Heights (409), Leumeah (9733), Raby (6710), Eaglevale (3405), St. Andrews (6222) and Bow Bowing (1452).
Enrolments at the three schools served by the community library are Sarah Redfern High School 652 Sarah Redfern Primary 425 Passfield Park 40 Total population of schools 1117
The community library opened in 1981 after extensive planning by representatives of the Campbelltown City Council, the State Library of NSW and the then Department of Education. The operation of the community library is governed by a formal deed which was agreed in 1985 between the Minister for Education and the City of Campbelltown. In 1995 this deed was renegotiated to take account of the matters raised in the evaluation of 1991.
This deed sets out the framework for the whole complex. Some of the provisions for the complex as a whole are specific to the library. The main aspects covered include
* management committee--objects, membership, officers, frequency of meetings
* building--contributions, cleaning, insurance, maintenance, recurrent expenditure for gas, water, electricity
* finance--income, payment of accounts, contributions for staffing, initial contributions for resources
* staffing--selection, qualifications and role of head librarian, provision of community and teacher librarians and library support staff
* other matters, including provision for notice of termination of agreement
It was recognised in the early planning for the joint use facility that Minto Community Library represented a new form of service and would require evaluation after a suitable period. In 1989 representatives from Campbelltown City Council, the Department of School Education and the State Library of NSW agreed to conduct a joint evaluation of the community library and formed a steering committee to oversee this evaluation. The steering committee appointed a review team and approved the terms of reference for the evaluation.
The issues identified by the evaluation relate to management, staffing, library resources and finance and illustrated some of the difficulties inherent in divided responsibility. By 1998 most of these issues have been addressed.
The library operates on a philosophy of equal access to all users. When open, its resources are available to all who may choose to use them. The only exception to this in 1998 seems to be the schools' video collection and the upstairs computer room which has been only available to school children and teachers. The collection observes a fairly traditional public library split into adult and junior, and all the material becomes part of the Campbelltown City Library.
Since evaluation in 1991 the Minto management committee contributes some funds towards the cost of library resources. This was done to provide more print and nonprint resources directly related to the current curriculum. The library functions as a branch of the Campbelltown City Library. Funding for the establishment and first year of operation was shared equally between the council and the department.
In an effort to achieve as workable a staffing structure as possible the nonprofessional staff positions and the position of head librarian are all positions on the Campbelltown City Council staff, salary costs being shared by the council and the department. In addition there are 1.6 teacher librarian positions, the incumbents of which are employed and paid for by the department, and one public librarian employed and paid for by the council.
Teacher librarians observe school hours and conditions, while the remainder of the staff work under a local government award.
Responsibility for the library is vested in the management committee of the centre. The diagram below illustrates the management structure of the library.
The management committee comprises equal numbers of representatives appointed by the council and the department, with the Campbelltown city librarian and the head librarian from Minto attending as observers.
The library opened on 9 June 1981 and is open for 49 hours each week including two evenings until 8pm and Saturday 9am-12 noon. The chief aim of the library staff during this time has been to make the library a place where all users feel welcome and to make the services of the library as widely known as possible.
There are a number of advantages in providing a joint use service. Minto Community Library
* provides access to all resources held by the Campbelltown City Library
* provides an opportunity for all sectors of the community to see displays, especially displays by school students
* provides multiskilling for staff
* ensures building and equipment are utilised throughout the year
* ensures community members who are studying have access to educational resources
* provides more avenues for promotion of the service
* promotes lifelong learning through the educational role of the joint use library
* provides greater access to information on community services
* allows more flexibility in providing and obtaining resources and making innovations
* allows extended opening hours
* provides access to more staff than in a separate service
* provides a greater quantity and higher quality of collection, services and facilities than is possible with separate services and smaller budgets
* represents efficient use of public money
Specific to Minto Community Library, disadvantages are
* the general public is uneasy about mixing with students
* the lack of understanding of the role of library staff in a joint use facility
* the management committee has been ineffective over many of the years of operation
* the two funding bodies have separate computer systems
* trying to ensure students behave to provide a good atmosphere for the public
* teachers concerned about community members borrowing `school' resources
* being accountable to both school and local council
* each partner thinks its needs are more important
* inability to select staff on merit
* building maintenance not up to council standard. The Department of Education has a lower standard
* lack of appreciation of needs and requirements in running a joint use facility by both the schools and the council
Minto Community Library has the potential to become a unique and special library service. There are a number of factors to be addressed, such as staffing issues, effective budgeting, an effective management committee, more community and teacher involvement, and improvement of the library design before it can be determined if full potential is reached. The greatest problems facing Minto Community Library are not operational factors, but `people problems' which have been detected at Minto since its inception. These `problem' people have appeared at all levels, from representatives of the funding authorities down to teaching and library staff. The elements of cooperation and goodwill need to be adopted by everyone or there will always be problems.
Minto Community Library, since inception, should have always been treated as a new form of library service, a unique and special situation where effective services were offered to different types of users. It is not unreasonable to suggest that Minto Community Library can become such a library in the future.
In 1996 the existing library staff at Minto participated in a team building session. The workshop also included the principals of the primary school and the high schools as well as the manager of Campbelltown City Library. The team building workshop provided the opportunity for all parties to face the issues, produced a common goal to work towards and a greater understanding of the concerns of other members of the team.
From this session developed a mission statement which says
By the year 2003 Minto Community Library will be the model of excellence for joint use library services in Australia.
We are now two years into working towards this mission. There are still conditions that exist and need to be addressed before we can be in the position of achieving the vision. With the commitment and cooperation of all the players, Minto Community Library will be closer to achieving this goal.
Bundy, A Widening client horizons: joint use public libraries in the 1990s Aplis 11 (1) March 1998 pp4-16
The Deed between the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs of the State of NSW and the Council of the City Of Campbelltown 9 May 1995
Evaluation of Minto Community Library March 1991
Juchau, M School community libraries 1982: alive and well and here to stay Proceedings of the LAA Conference Adelaide 1982
Sinclair-Kydd, R Management processes and issues at Minto Community Complex with special focus on the joint use library Joint use of community and recreation facilities: report of a seminar at O'Connell Education Centre, Griffith ACT 3 June 1993
Glenys Aird, after ten years as a classroom teacher went to Leigh Creek Area School (SA) as teacher librarian. She arrived two months before the library was opened as the state's eighth school community library in 1980, and left fourteen years later. She is now teacher librarian at Eudunda School Community Library and in 1999 will be moving to a position at Alice Springs Public Library Address: PO Box 1071 Alice Springs NT 0871 tel(08)89500555 fax(08)89522402
Albert Bergoc is the foundation library manager of the Seaford Library, City of Onkaparinga, South Australia. His previous experience includes the Parks Community Library in South Australia. Address: Grand Boulevarde Seaford SA 5169 tel(08)83272565
Helen Dunford has been librarian at the Robert Sticht Memorial Library in Queenstown Tasmania since 1992. Address: PO Box 357 Queenstown Tas 7467 tel(03)64711202 fax(03)64712414
Deborah Hamblin commenced her library career in public libraries in Sydney, joined Murdoch University in 1978, and was appointed campus librarian for the Rockingham Regional Campus Community Library in 1998. Address: Simpson Avenue Rockingham WA 6168 tel(08)93607060 fax(08)93607036
Sue Perkins was appointed foundation library manager of The Hub Library in 1984. Address: The Hub Aberfoyle Park SA 5159 tel(08)83746222 fax(08)83705611
Cathey Shepherd has worked in public and Tafe libraries in New South Wales and has been head librarian of Minto Community Library since 1996. Address: PO Box 57 Campbelltown NSW 2560 tel(02)96033639