VALA 2014 – Concurrent Session 9 – Get creative

Tania Barry - learn to play and play to learn using public libraries for creativity and collaboration

Libraries as innovators With six focus areas: collections, spaces, staff, programs, technology and governance. Strategic direction.

All strands are under the direction of reading, learning and meeting. 

Obtained funding to create a Digital Hub and a Makerspace.

Digital hub program coming out of the NBN rollout. Their hub includes three banquettes for small group training and collaborative work space; collaborative work tools and a program of training.

The four topics were broken into six month streams. Currently in business sphere.  All the programs were popular and included topics that were requested by users via a survey.

Funding for 2.5 years, but first six months was establishing equipment, so they ran a bridging program of training.

Employed a full time trainer but needed to have more staff available, as backup and fill ins. Seven staff now fill that role and no sessions have had to be cancelled. Have exceeded the requirements for number and type of training sessions. This was on top of the programs that they were already running.

Public libraries have a strong role in supporting learning in our communities. So Tania did some of her own research and discovered there is no out of the box Makerspace for libraries that she could implement. Even the definitions vary.

Mill Park reinvented a space already in the library, with a combined focus of electronicand digital media. Tech included 3d printer, digital cameras, tablets, video editing andmore. Even without a dedicated space, you can utilise creative directions and make things available.

Geocaching - a treasure hunt using smartphones and GPSs. Have programs at Eltham and Watsonia. Eltham had preset caches for the community to join in. Watsonia ran workshops andclasses first before setting up the caches. Both gave chance for participants to learn about their local communities.

It was all done through grant funding, through creating and embedding partnerships and through staff professional development. Funding constraints are not necessarily a barrierto developing these sorts of innovations.

Why - complimentary to existing programs and vision and objectives, opportunity to enhance Mill Park, change library perception and build new partnerships.

Outcomes: Have created new spaces, more staff training and development, increased workplace pride,new programs developed, new partnerships, increased attendance  and loans and creative use of technology.

New devices are now available for public use as well as programs. Showcasing public libraries as innovative and forward thinking and strong advocacy for local councils.

Benefits anecdotally - big increase in collaborative and inter-generational learning, problem solving, knowledge learning and informal learning.

Need to understand your audience, ensure you have staff buy-in, recognise that programs continue to evolve, have own branding! have complementary links and challenge perceptions - take some risks.