After 25 years and 100 issues, a final editorial.
In its April 1988 first issue, the late Warren Horton, director general of the National Library of Australia, welcomed it with the words
We need an effective forum for communication on public library issues. Public libraries, notwithstanding present funding difficulties, face a potentially exciting future. Aplis can only be of benefit in encouraging widespread debate and a better flow of information.
Horton also noted that he had been a joint editor of an earlier attempt at an Australian public library journal, the then Library Association of Australia's Australian public library issues, which only lasted from 1971-73 due, he told me, largely to the lack of contributions from public library practitioners, too preoccupied to let others know of their achievements and challenges. Horton, as I, was also enthusiastic about greater public library awareness between Australia and New Zealand; recognised that New Zealand was then considerably ahead of Australia in the provision of public libraries for all of its citizens; and provided lessons from which Australia could learn.
My editorial in that first issue of Aplis complemented Horton's observations by noting that
Australia and New Zealand now have networks of over 600 public library services available to nearly 100 per cent of the population of both countries ... In addition to more than 30 million books they provide an ever increasing range of information, resources and services ... Despite economic constraints public libraries have made tremendous strides in just three decades. They now face an exciting and demanding future, providing information for economic, educational, cultural and recreational profit. Aplis seeks to assist you in responding to that future.
The extent to which Aplis has contributed to public library advocacy, awareness, information sharing, and development during its 25 years is for others to judge. However their continuing recognition and funding constraints notwithstanding, there can be no argument that in general public libraries in both Australia and New Zealand are now stronger, more innovative, more inclusive, more user and community focused, more highly valued, and much better able to demonstrate their outstanding return on investment.
The importance of finding the time to encourage Library Friends
Yet, 25 years on, a fundamental issue for the recognition and achievement of better public libraries for all in Australia and New Zealand remains to be addressed well.
In a contribution to that first issue of Aplis, Dr Christine Henderson, then manager of the Public Libraries Branch in South Australia observed that the greatest problem for public libraries was that 'councillors and aldermen, indeed politicians at all levels throughout Australia are often unaware of the facts'. This, in 2012, remains so.
She also argued that
We must work to activate the community. It is not enough to say 'I know my community well, ! know my users --if I am in trouble they will support me'. Friends groups must be established in every library. They must be aligned on a national and state basis. We must motivate our users to support us financially and politically. We must prioritise, reassess and begin to activate our skills in these directions.
It is perhaps no coincidence that as a result of Henderson's leadership, South Australia still has more Library Friends per capita, and its public libraries have arguably faced less extreme resourcing challenges than anywhere else in Australasia.
The importance of finding the time to tell the public library story
During most its 25 years, Aplis has been one of only five English language public library journals published worldwide. The contemporaneously established Public library journal, published by the UK's library association (Cilip) regrettably ceased, for financial reasons, about three years ago, and the Scandinavian public library quarterly has now dropped 'public' from its title, although it continues to provide generous space to public library issues. The US Public Library Association continues to publish Public libraries six times annually.
Also remaining is the US Public library quarterly (PLQ) edited by the indefatigable Dr Glen Holt, and I commend it to public librarians in Australia and New Zealand for submission of articles and for subscriptions. His email is email@example.com. Further information on PLQ is opposite
Please also consider your general library journals the Australian library journal (from 2013 to be published by Routledge's Taylor & Francis group for Alia) and the New Zealand library and information management journal (Lianza)--the more other sectors of the library profession become aware of the achievements and issues being addressed by public libraries in both countries, the more professionals and others in those other sectors will become aware of the importance and opportunities of public librarianship.
The initial aspiration was to publish Aplis for only ten years--that it has endured longer is due to
* its many contributors, and corporate and individual subscribers
* its New Zealand editorial advisers, most recently Geoff Chamberlain, who has fittingly contributed an article on the new Auckland public library service to this last issue
* the flexibility in meeting sometimes almost impossible deadlines, of its high quality printer for most of those 25 years, Openbook Howden Printing Pty Ltd--and in particular its outstanding prepress manager Robert van Gasteren and his colleagues
* Judith Bundy, for her skills, ideas and invariable patience with this editor, in preparing every one of those 100 issues of Aplis for printing.
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|Publication:||Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2012|
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