Anna Gifford and Julie Rae Size doesn’t matter: how a small library went BIG
Australian Drug Foundation – working to develop healthier attitudes to alcohol and drugs through various evidence-based programmes. Don’t want to ban everything, but do know huge impact on people and cost to country.
Deliver info via websites, phone info services, library. Organisation starting to question what was the value of the library, how current is it, what does it do?
Found those who knew about them thought they were great, but most people were finding own pathways to info they needed. Needed to stop talking library and start talking information. Needed to embrace digital.
Started dreaming and reimagining themselves. Gave speculative vision to organisation – and they bought it….
Wanted to leverage own expertise but knew they couldn’t do it alone so wanted to cross-pollinate skills internally and develop partnerships externally eg with Deakin, with an indigenous organisation. Staff development to build skills eg in communication, technology, social media, critical thinking, research methodology, scholarly communication. Improve profile in the organisation and improve organisation’s profile.
About breaking down implicit walls.
- downsizing physical – big collection review and vigorous weeding of out-dated material and material widely held elsewhere. Digitised some. Trusted parts of internet to stick around. Went to digital journal subscriptions. By loosening grip on ‘The Collection’ could build in ways hadn’t been able to think about before.
- developing single search solution – previously had a piecemeal setup. Needed a single search to all owned and leased datasets; an authentication layer; and a hosted service. Ended up with Primo/SFX/EZproxy.
- expanding membership – lots of people wanting access, negotiated with funder to open up membership to anyone.
Coming back to information services side of things – looked at other ways of pushing info out. A couple of them are licensed to tweet to for the organisation as a whole – find a nugget of knowledge from their content and push it out. Automated SMS service: NZ initiative where people text the name of a drug and get and SMS back with basic effects/harms etc. Popular at events and with ambos. Built website targeted at parents – info about drugs and tools to talk to kids about it.
Why would a library so small try to do so much? It works. 15% growth in members in less than 6 months. Leverages the ‘special’ in special libraries. Acknowledges that old model of libraries is outdated and needs to change – but that we can change.
“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you think” –A.A.Milne