Much Ado About Books Seminar

This was an inaugural seminar organised by representatives from both the PLVN Collections SIG and the Reader Development SIG and was held at the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre.
The seminar celebrated libraries, books and reading with a mantra to change the current vernacular from “Libraries are more than just books” to “Libraries are books…..and much more”.

My Takeaways

  • Public libraries remain committed to the importance of reading, literacy and collections for their communities.
  • Collections continue to be a “point of difference” between libraries and other organisations.
  • Maintaining relevance with collection content and merchandising and promotion of collections
  • Training staff in Reader Development is essential.
  • Publishers still don’t “get” libraries, books and digital formats.
  • Some good ideas for programming ie. Bookmatch; Shared Reading groups.


Sarah Bailey – Keynote speaker

Sarah is a Melbourne based author whose first book The Dark Lake won the Ned Kelly Award for the Best First Crime novel in August 2018. Her second book Into the Night is also available at YPRL. Sarah’s presentation as very engaging as she spoke about her love of books, reading and libraries which started at a very early age when she decided to climb up the shelves of a bookcase at home to reach a favourite book which promptly dislodged and fell on her head! She has been a “library junkie” ever since!

Sarah spends much of her writing time in public libraries and finds the ambience, resources and library staff very inviting and stimulating. She is currently working on the third book in the Gemma Woodstock Detective series which will be published in 2019.

Sarah suggested that it would be wonderful if we all received “ Literary leave” to be able to read all the books we always wanted to read!


Christine Mackenzie – IFLA President elect

Christine gave a short introduction of what IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) stands for and does. She described libraries as “the guardians of the memory of the world” and discussed the importance of being champions of intellectual freedom and supporting literacy and reading in the digital age.  Her presentation continued to provide an overview of two major projects that IFLA has undertaken over the past two years – the Global Vision Project and the International Advocacy Program.

The Global Vision Project has produced a report that provides 10 highlights and opportunities to guide the international library field to ensure it is united and strong.

There is also an IFLA Global Vision Ideas Store where library staff from all over the world can submit their ideas for opportunities and action.

The International Advocacy Program was designed to promote the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and demonstrate how libraries can assist governments in achieving their targets. See here for more information.


ePublishing Trends Panel discussion

The panel included Rebecca Herrmann - Bolinda; Malcolm O’Brien – Wavesound and Rebecca Giblin -Faculty of Law, Monash University and was chaired by Natalie Mason (Melbourne Library Service). Robust discussion ensued about the findings of the ARC Linkage eLending project where both Bolinda and Wavesound representatives expressed that they had been surprised about the variances across the aggregators and vendors in pricing for many eBook and eAudiobook titles.

The news that more and more publishers are moving to metered access for their publications is disappointing, in particular, it appears that eAudiobooks will now follow the same path that we have experienced with eBooks. Metered access means that each publisher imposes a restriction on the use of eBook and eAudiobook titles e.g. loans capped either by usage or by time. 26 loans per item or a library can “own” a title for 52 weeks are some examples.

The term “exploding licences” was coined for those many titles which publishers initially make available and then revoke the licences making the title virtually unattainable in digital format.


Sonya Tsakalakis - Brain Health - Reading for Psychological Wellbeing

Sonya is a practising bibliotherapist and spoke about the concept of bibliotherapy and of how emerging research points to the benefits of reading for mental health and wellbeing.

For more information, visit Sonya’s website:.

A University of Liverpool study “Reading between the lines: the benefits of reading for pleasure” confirms the benefits of reading for wellbeing and mental health. 


Kevin Hennah - Vision 2020: Maintaining relevant libraries workshop

Kevin discussed the relevance of the future of public libraries and with a visual presentation full of images of well-presented and displayed collections, he challenged participants on the importance of making books their library’s core business with a purpose to increasing loans. He suggested that it was important to “drive informed change or ill-informed change will be imposed on you”.

Kevin’s vision for maintaining relevant libraries in the future:

“A flexible space in which genre-driven print collection is cleverly merchandised…..
A merchandising strategy that creates a level playing ground between print and new technologies and on all levels presents as dynamic and progressive.”
Kevin also discussed the virtues of genrefied collections and suggested that libraries consider whether they are all about storage or visual merchandising.


Lightning talks

This was a showcase of best practice and innovation in both Reader Development and Collections from across the library industry. There were six presentations:

  1. Walking group – Audio books that move us – Whitehorse Manningham Regional Library

Developed walking groups to use audio books and exercise to reach isolated library users and build meaningful connections with and between participants.

  1. Will you ‘like’ me? Reader Development using Facebook – Darebin Libraries

Used Facebook to promote and increase the use of physical collections and e-resources over the summer period.

  1. Bookmatch: Tinder for book lovers – Greater Dandenong Libraries

Bookmatch is a Readers Advisory service to connect readers with book suggestions based on reading interests, tastes, literary needs and desires. Melbourne Library Service has also run a similar program. The program is run over a finite period of time and book suggestions are compiled by library staff.

  1. Stats, stats, stats!!! Improving physical loans – Wyndham Library Service

Ideas and considerations in approaching the challenge of increasing borrowing statistics. This presentation mainly centred around promotion, marketing and display of collections.

  1. Chinese Shared Reading Group – Monash Public Library Service

The practice of reading aloud is common and highly regarded in China. This program enhanced the role of the library as a centre for social engagement and inclusion for the Chinese community.

  1. Reaching Readers: Reader Development online training – State Library of Victoria

This presentation outlined the purpose of the new online Reader Development training course aimed at library staff who are responsible for planning and managing reader-centred programs, events and projects.

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