Thursday, June 26, 2008

verbYL wins again!! Off to Alice Springs...

Yes, it can now be announced - verbYL is the winner in the "Meeting Place" category of the Australian Library and Information Association's "Library Stars: Best of the Best" satellite event. So I'm off to Alice Springs in the first week of September, and will hang around for the main ALIA conference (might as well, it's a long way to go for just a one day gig); I have just realized that, despite being the "conference queen", this is the first ALIA conference I have EVER been to. Why is it so? I guess because for the first 20 years or so of my career I just didn't belong to ALIA; for the last 10 years I've looked through the conference program and gotten the impression it was heavily weighted towards academic libraries. The local state conference or specific public library conferences were just more attractive. However, I really can't complain about this year's program as the public library stream is excellent. There is nothing quite so indulgent as 4 solid days of library dreaming, visioning and scheming, to give a boost to the psyche and morale. Better than a spa (whatever that is). And I just might do a bit of conference blogging...

There are now many written sources of info available about verbYL, although not all of them can be accessed unless you have subscription or membership. The most comprehensive is the article in the Australian Public Library and Information Services journal, if you have access to Ebsco Australian and New Zealand Database you will find it here....(it's also listed on Amazon for purchase as a single article!) There's also an article in ALIA's Incite March 2008 issue, which you can access if you are a member. One open Internet source is the paper from the presentation I made at the Limestone Coast Area Consultative Committee's "Investing in Youth" conference. If you would like copies of the other articles but can't get to them, please email me at, and I'll be happy to send them to you.

Of course, I love to traipse around the country extolling the virtues of this unique concept, and accept the accolades, but it must be recognized that it's my colleagues who make verbYL the award winning model that it is - the indefatigable Christine, the Youth Librarian (who incidentally has a speaking gig at this year's New Grads Conference in Melbourne); the Youth Workers and other youth and library staff; my present and past managers; Council; and my wise management counterpart who co-manages verbYL for the Community Development half of the partnership.

So what will I be talking about at the Conference? Hmm, well, I think I'll start with the spiel about how it started etc, but at this stage of the maturity of verbYL, I think I'll be brave enough to honestly tackle the challenges that running a youth-centric space throws up for both youth and library services. Because verbYL is a unique partnership between Youth and Library services, there are also the challenges of articulating, negotiating and aligning the expectations and wanted outcomes of the two services on a continuing basis - to date I'm pleased to report with very positive outcomes. There are also the extraordinary benefits of partnering with youth services - I plan to outline the lessons learned by being exposed to and adopting youth service values and philosophies. Should give the listeners plenty to chew on (I hope).

In the meantime I continue in the very exciting role of Manager of Library Services for the newly amalgamated councils. Talk about a steep learning curve! But highly stimulating, and I must admit that after 3 months in the role the best thing I've got out of it so far is a great rush of confidence in my own competence as a professional library manager - something that wasn't really tested in my previous role. I would find it hard, I think, to go back to my former role, even though it was pretty cruisy - however, another challenge is on the horizon as restructuring is just around the corner, and in all likelihood I will have to apply for whatever position the restructure throws up - no matter, I can always do with the interviewing practice! In the meantime, with staff very geographically dispersed, and me still located in my old office, I am practicing "management by email" and "virtual leadership" which is in itself another interesting skill!


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