FAIR's Great School Libraries campaign has closed for nominations. Just one nomination puts the school library in the running to be named one of Australia's great school libraries. There is be no first prize - the achievements of every school library that is nominated and endorsed by our panel of school library experts will be celebrated equally. The list of Great School Libraries will be published during first term 2016.
ALIA and early childhood experts called on the Federal Government to support the development of a National Early Language and Literacy Strategy. This followed the National Early Literacy Summit held in Canberra on 7 - 8 May. The strategy is needed because one in five Australian children are at risk of not developing the literacy skills they need to succeed as an adult. The summit highlighted the wide range of activities already targeting zero to five-year-olds. However, it identified the opportunity for greater co-ordination at a national level between organisations supporting families with young children. The delivery of early childhood education and care is in the hands of many different agencies, including kindergartens, playgroups, health, social services, schools, libraries, and all three levels of government. This results in competing priorities, duplication of effort and a lack of clarity in relation to the outcomes for children.
As a consequence of the 2015 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook Statement, Trove funding was cut back. This will result in many smaller institutions across Australia being unable to afford to add their digital collections to this national knowledge infrastructure. The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), Museums Australia (MA) and National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA) have written to Darren Chester, Minister for Infrastructure, asking him to extend the definition of national infrastructure to include Trove (trove.nla.gov.au), the nation’s gateway to books, photographs, newspapers, maps, historical documents and many more items. While it began as an initiative of the National Library, over the last five years Trove has achieved the position of a national asset representing collections right across the galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) sector. As a result, 10 GLAM peak bodies have signed a statement of support for Trove.
Great School Libraries
The results of the Great School Libraries campaign shows the school library is a valuable asset for the school, but for the library to perform at its peak, qualified library staff must be employed. From October to December in 2015, the Great School Libraries campaign sought nominations of school libraries that help children and young people find reliable information; use information effectively; think critically; make informed decisions; work productively with others; build knowledge and understanding of the world; safely navigate the internet; communicate and share their ideas; and find great reads to meet personal interests and abilities. Two hundred and thirteen libraries made the honours list.
The Productivity Commission released the Intellectual Property Arrangements Draft Report. ALIA agrees with the Productivity Commission's view that Australia's intellectual property arrangements have lost sight of users. ALIA was pleased the Commission agrees with the library and information sector’s view on three key issues - unpublished works, fair use and safe harbours.
2016 Federal Budget
There was little news in the Australian Government Budget 2016-2017 relating to library and information related issues but there was a few items of interest. Digital transformation was a thread that ran through every portfolio and was especially noticeable in the Health arena. Despite the announcement in the May 2014 Budget that the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner would be disbanded later that year, the OAIC limped on and this year’s Budget included $8.1 million over four years to fund its continued operation. The national cultural institutions’ funding levels all showed the depressing and cumulative effect of the Efficiency Dividend. Further increases in the Australian Public Service Efficiency Dividend were announced for the next three years: an additional 1.5 per cent in 2017-18, 1 per cent in 2018-19 and 0.5 per cent in 2019-20. In the Education and Training portfolio, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) was the one cultural institution with something to celebrate - an additional $40 million over four years from 2016-17 to support the preservation, restoration and management of the AIATSIS collection of cultural and heritage material, as well as investment in additional expertise and digitisation equipment. However, this funding commitment had already been partly announced (as $20 million over two years) by the Prime Minister in his Closing the Gap statement of 10 February 2016. As a professional body involved in higher education course accreditation, we were pleased to see the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency receive additional funding of $2.5 million per annum from 1 July 2016. We can hope that school libraries will benefit, at least indirectly, from the additional $1.2 billion promised for schools between 2018 and 2020. Public and school libraries have been partners in the Government’s Stay Smart Online campaign over a number of years. This will be replaced by a new cyber security awareness campaign with $10 million in funding and we hope to continue libraries’ involvement with the activity. The Australian Government announced it would continue the Financial Assistance Grant program, providing approximately $2.4 billion per year to local government for infrastructure, health, recreation, environment or employment projects. Public libraries may be able to benefit from this funding.
Cuts to cultural institutions
ALIA Chief Executive Officer, Sue McKerracher, criticised the impact of budget cuts on our national institutions, including the National Library of Australia. Media reported the 2016 Federal Budget showed the workforces of national cultural institutions will drop by about 63 full-time equivalent positions in 2016-17, with the National Library of Australia set to lose 28 positions from its headcount. ABC news reported that the GLAM sector has been impacted by budget cuts for the past 30 years, with both parties wielding the knife. Our CEO said the 'efficiency dividend' has resulted in job losses and could mean fewer blockbuster exhibitions, reduced opening hours and less innovation. In the Canberra Times, Mr Barr is reported to have said that some of the $160 million provisionally earmarked for a plebicite on same-sex marriage should be invested in Canberra's national institutions.
Budget cuts are forcing online online archive Trove to stop adding to its collection. In an interview with ABC News Online, ALIA CEO Sue McKerracher said some history collections may not be added to our national heritage database. Read more
Federal Election Agenda
Following confirmation of Saturday 2 July as the date the nation will go to the polls, ALIA issued its federal election agenda. ALIA's agenda seeks to tackle the nation’s literacy problem head on (nearly half of all adults in Australia struggle with everyday reading and writing); unlock millions of historic documents and images so they can be viewed on the web; make government-funded research data readily available as building blocks for academics, scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs, and contribute to the government’s National Strategy for International Education. The proposals in the ALIA document, The Library and Information Agenda 2016, include policies and investments which are essential for the success of Australia as an innovation-focused, knowledge-based economy. Library and information services enable Australians to be well-informed, literate and ready for future economic and technological challenges.
10 Things you never knew you could find in a library
There was a great response to this campaign with 131 submissions from libraries around Australia. The list of the top 10 things can be read in this media release issued during Library and Information Week and check out the gallery of all the submissions.
As part of the election campaign, the ALP promised, if elected, a Labor Government would commit $12 million of funding over four years for the National Library Trove platform. Funding for Trove was an important priority in ALIA's Library and Information Agenda and it has been the focus of discussion with the Government and the Opposition over recent months. Read the media release
ALIA’s VET Libraries Advisory Committee has completed three major projects – a new set of Guidelines for Australian VET Libraries to provide a base line for library services in TAFE and private colleges; a survey of TAFE libraries to assess the impact of funding cuts in the sector, and the collation of a current listing of all 246 TAFE libraries across Australia. Read the media release
Australians went to the polls on July 2 but the outcome of the Federal election is not yet known. Vote counting is continuing as neither the Coalition or Labor have yet secured the 76 seats needed to form government.
4 July is ALIES Day, celebrating the contribution of Australasian libraries supporting police, fire safety, ambulance, geoscience, environment, justice, security and other library and information services connected with natural, human, industrial and technlogical disasters. It is also the day that ALIES officially becomes an ALIA Group.
Nominate books that make you feel good about life
ALIA is seeking nominations of books which make us feel good about life. The top 10 nominated titles will be revealed on the ALIA website on World Mental Health Day, 10 October, during Australia’s Mental Health Week (9 to 15 October), and the list will be used to support the Books on Prescription program, which is being trialled in libraries in Central and Far Western New South Wales. To help with the project, all you have to do is fill in our survey nominating your books and tell us why those books lift your spirits, before COB Friday 23 September. Nominations can be from anyone, and can cover any genre – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays or other works. Share your book choices on social media and join in the conversation by using the hashtag: #uplift
Use of book covers
The Australian Publishers Association (APA) and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) came to a landmark agreement to allow libraries to use book covers to promote books and authors without seeking permission each time. The APA and ALIA have agreed on the value of an environment in which libraries can be confident, for promotional purposes, to reproduce images of book covers whose copyright is owned by Australian publishers. It will make it easier for libraries to create displays, posters, websites and social media, and free them to be able to focus more on the promotion of books and reading rather than confirming copyright clearances every time. Read this fact sheet from the Australian Copyright Council.
Flat NAPLAN test results
ALIA was disappointed to see the flat results in the 2016 NAPLAN national test results. The results show that from 2015 to 2016 there has been no significant change in literacy and numeracy results, with results plateauing. ALIA noted in a media release that school libraries and teacher librarians are well placed to contribute to improving student skills in reading, digital literacy, critical thinking and research skills. However we see only a small number of teacher librarians on staff compared to other specialist teachers in schools.
A library card from birth for every child
ALIA's big idea - a library card from birth for every child - has made the shortlist in a national competition called My Big Idea. This shortlist of 100 ideas was created from votes by the general public. The winning ideas will be announced in early September.
LIS qualifications increasingly important for employment
The report notes there will be a modest increase in the number of qualified positions over the next five years, but a decrease in the number of positions for staff without a library and information science qualification.
Libraries and the UN Sustainable Development Goals
ALIA organised a meeting with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Canberra to discuss how libraries in Singapore and Australia are implementing the UN's sustainable development goals.
A delegation of senior librarians from Singapore were welcomed last week to the ALIA National 2016 Conference and have since been visiting libraries in SA, VIC, NSW and ACT.
ALIA at TEQSA
Sue McKerracher, ALIA CEO, attended a meeting today in Melbourne on 7 September of professional bodies associated with the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) which is the independent national regulator of the higher education sector.
Discussions covered the new Higher Education Standards which will apply from 1 January 2017. The aim of the Standards is to ensure the organisational and financial underpinnings of a university are sound and sustainable, and that the quality of the teaching and research infrastructure is sufficient to ensure appropriate outcomes for graduates.
Books that make you feel good about life
The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has today revealed the results of a two-month search for mood-boosting titles on World Mental Health Day. A list of 252 books has been produced from 320 respondents following a call to ALIA Members for the books into which you can escape to lift your mood. This list will be used to support the Books on Prescription program, which is being trialled in libraries in Central and Far Western New South Wales.
ALIA welcomes VET Student Loans Scheme
Early in October, Senator Simon Birmingham, Federal Minister for Education and Training, announced the start of the VET Student Loans Scheme from 1 January 2017, subject to the passing of the VET Student Loans Bill 2016 through Parliament. The Minister also announced that the current VET FEE-HELP scheme will cease on 31 December 2016. The Federal Government has published a range of fact sheets with information about VET Student Loans and the list of courses eligible under the loans scheme. ALIA was delighted to see that the Diploma of Library and Information Studies has made the list of eligible courses. This is vitally important for ensuring the flow of qualified library technicians to the Library and Information sector. Also ALIA is pleased that the name of the scheme will be changed from VET FEE-HELP to VET Student Loans Scheme. This immediately indicates to students that that they are entering a loan contract and not receiving help that could be misunderstood as a subsidy or a gift.
Australia, New Zealand and Singapore library association to work together to deepen ties
Australia, New Zealand and Singapore library associations have agreed to work together to promote the library and information sector (LIS) across the three countries and will produce a joint conference in 2018 to be held at the Gold Coast. The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), the Library Association of Singapore (LAS) and the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) have today signed a memorandum of understanding to promote an innovation agenda by making information in all its forms accessible to some 20 million library users.
The organisations have agreed to:
- hold the library and information sector Gold Coast in 2018, which will provide the opportunity for more than 1000 professionals from our three nations to share their knowledge and expertise with colleagues from across our library networks
- Represent the region’s library and Information sector at an international level through the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
- Collaborate and strengthen cultural responsiveness and accountability in libraries
- Promote digital access to collections across the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sector.
Reprieve for NSW Public Service Association Library
Good news from the Public Service Association (PSA) of NSW - the library at PSA House now looks like it has a great future. ALIA heard that despite strong representations from Public Service Association (PSA) NSW Members and ALIA earlier in the year, the former General Secretary had planned to break up the PSA NSW library.
ALIA had already expressed its deep concern about the proposed changes, noting that the information service for industrial relations and research staff and members of the PSA NSW association was well used and highly valued, and that the library included unique materials that should be preserved as a single cohesive collection. ALIA encouraged ALIA Members and FAIR supporters to attend a protest rally outside PSA House on Monday 17 October organised by senior PSA Members. On Tuesday 18 October, PSA NSW held its election and a new General Secretary was appointed. We understand that the new incumbent originally trained as a librarian and has committed to support the library, its services and collection.
ALIA and FAIR publicly supported the former Ford executives who are asking the ho are asking the Federal Government to prevent the export of the company's local archives, following the closure of the local manufacturing operations. According to motoring magazine's Wheels website, the archive is still in Australia but may be exported to the Ford World headquarters in Dearborn, USA, later this year or early next.
According to Australian law (Protection of the Moveable Cultural Heritage Act 1986), Ford must apply for a permit to export documents/materials deemed to be of national heritage. The final decision on whether a permit is granted is made by the Minister for Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield.
Save Ultimo TAFE Library
ALIA and FAIR are supporting a campaign to keep all levels of the library open for students. TAFE Corporate has plans to take over level two of Ultimo TAFE library which will result in a significant reduction of valuable library space including student computers, study rooms and quiet study areas.
Update on Ultimo TAFE library
ALIA (ALIA) wrote an open letter to the NSW Minister for Skills, John Barilaro, to protest about TAFE management’s plan to turn the third floor of its Ultimo campus library into corporate offices. The library at Ultimo TAFE in Sydney is under threat and ALIA and FAIR are supporting a campaign to keep all levels of the library open for students.
The Sydney TAFE A/Institute Director, Paul Williams, contacted ALIA and yesterday supplied a statement.
The Draft 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap was released which sets out priorities for planning and future investment. ALIA participated in the consultation which is informing the development of the Roadmap. The draft 2016 Roadmap highlights nine research infrastructure focus areas that will enable Australia to pursue transformational research while delivering returns for the community and industry partners.
The draft report looked at platforms for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) and notes that the National Library's Trove and the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) are good examples which expand beyond a single disciplinary approach.
Open Government National Action Plan
ALIA was specifically mentioned in the federal government report released yesterday as one of the organisations that will help deliver Australia's first Open Government National Action Plan. ALIA made a submission to the year-long consultation process supporting Government’s aim to make it easier for the public to 'find, access and use government data and information' though greater use of centralised, easy to access portals for information central portals, digital platforms and other tools to improve discoverability and accessibility.
The Government's aim of making information and data more accessible aligns with the values of the library and information sector. ALIA hopes that we can further assist the Government with this important initiative. It was gratifying to see ALIA singled out in the report and we were pleased to see the National Library of Australia's Trove also highlighted as an example of a 'highly used and successful central portal.'
ALIA supports the Government's plans to: upgrade Australia's public data infrastructure to meet the growing demand of data users; provide a central hub to identify and apply for Australian Government grant opportunities; and further help the National Archives of Australia continue their important work of digitising paper records and increasing the number of records available for public access.
ALIA supports Smart Cities Plan
ALIA noted that public libraries have an important role to play in the Smart Cities vision as hubs for urban development; technology hotspots; supporting business and enterprise; and libraries providing lifelong learning opportunities
The submission states that by investing in libraries, governments are investing in smarter communities where everyone has access to the internet and new technologies; to leisure, work and study spaces; to learning programs; to books, film, music, news media, journals, electronic databases, and to the expert guidance of library and information professionals. And all these services are not confined to our capital cities. There are some 1500 public libraries across Australia delivering $2.90 in community benefits for every dollar invested.