Sunday, October 01, 2006

Winners are grinners...Again!

Firstly thanks to all who read, and particurlarly those who commented, on my previous Post re youth in libraries. I've had a little holiday from blogging for various reasons, one of which is sheer busy-ness. Also access to the home PC with one out of action and 3 guys heavily into MMOGS (I have given my "permission" to spend family funds on a u-beaut gaming- dedicated computer so now also suffering from endess discussions which I can't follow about the best video cards, monitors etc). I happened to be passing by the computer room this morning and unusually, no-one else is monopolizing the machine, so I have jumped on...

It is with great pride but also trepidation that I can announce that verbYL (the name of our Youth Space/Youth Library) has recieved a NATIONAL (wow!!%%!!@) Award from the Department of Transport and Regional Services (or DOTARS) in its category of "Youth Engagement". Now DOTARS sounds very boring and institutional doesn't it but it's actually a very important federal government department that distributes lots of Commonwealth funds (indirectly through the States) to Local Government. This is the 20th year of the awards that DOTARS has for a whole range of local government activities ( there isn't a category for public libraries which is odd given that libraries are one of the most enduring services that local governments deliver maybe ALIA should sponsor one of the awards? specifically for libraries but libraries could fit some of the categories - for more info see DOTARS web site) . Oh, and did I mention that we are the CATEGORY WINNERS - oh, yes I said that already.

So the deal is, while we have been announced as absolute winners of the category (in our population range - there was also an award for local govts with pops under 15,000), there is a chance of being announced as "the best of the best" project in local government, so to this purpose all category winners were invited to do a 1/4 hour presentation + 1/4 hour questions to a panel of judges in Canberra this Tuesday/Wednesday just past. So 3 weeks spent in preparing a powerpoint presentation (what else?), luckily we have tons of candid pics of verbYL activities, nicely spiffed up by the graphic artist who designed the logo (something we can use again and again); rehearsing with an outstanding young man (Chris) who was on the Youth Council when verbYL was being planned and who graciously offered his time to come to Canberra to support our presentation; and a fantastic 60 sec video shot totally candidly with a hand held camera which perfectly captures the mood of verbYL on a typical afternoon (provided by our multitalented youth worker trainee Sarah); 8 hours in airports or planes of ridiculous variety from jet to mosquito-sized propeller plane to get to and from Canberra; a quick walk up to Parliament on arrival (it's all very relaxed for a national capital); a very pleasant night spent at the Canberra Hyatt, and dinner meeting up with the other category winners from (relatively) nearby Sarina (go Queensland!) , who luckily had 4 young people in their party so Chris didn't feel too pained being stuck with a middle aged librarian for the whole evening...Then come Wednesday morning, our 1/2 hour of fame! Which I think we did very well. And also a videoed interview which will be edited up with pictures from our project for use on the Awards dinner night in November, when the "winners" (remember, we already won so anything extra is just a bonus) will be announced.

How did we come to enter this award? Here I can claim absolutely NO responsibility. Rather, Council's Community Liaison Officer, the tireless Debbi, thought it would be a good idea to enter, and worked slavishly up to the entry deadline rehashing and massaging a report done by Molly the previous youth worker on the first 6 months of verbYL, and my entry for the QPLA Library of the Year, and other miscellaneous info, into the award winning entry. It was my pessimistic belief that verbYL had not been going for long enough to have "proved" its innovativeness, but how wrong can I be!! Obviously it was just the right project at the right time as far as the judges were concerned.

And while it was me with the honour of shooting off to Canberra for the presentation, I felt a bit guilty that all of the people who got verbYL off the ground couldn't have come too - including many officers who have actually left the employ of Council - it really was a big team effort. But I'm the one still at Council with a good corporate memory of the whole process, so there really wasn't anyone as best placed as myself to do the job. The things I can actually claim credit for, though, are getting the library involved in the space in the first place (it could easily have been a youth space on its own without library involvement) and at the end of the day, and without playing down the importance of the youth services component, it's just a fact that it's the library involvement that's the unique aspect of the service at this time. And I can also claim credit for pushing the branding - and I acknowledge again the great work that John Stanley has done to lift libraries' game in marketing. So while I felt intensely guilty to be getting all the glory at this time, to some extent I have to acknowledge that I do deserve some of it.

The teenage MMOGGER has arisen from his slumber and is now breathing down my neck for access to the computer...I'm off to fill in my Sunday with gardening, mosaic making, reading, napping...