Melbourne University Libraries
Reflection I was very interested to see the improvements made to customer service in the Ballieu library of Melbourne University. Taking their lead from Apple stores, banks, and Centrelink I like how they made the service and reference desks a central island where staff worked side by side with patrons to break down the power divide that inevitably comes with a behind a desk model. The work spaces around the libraries also were wonderful improvements for the students of 2014 – open spaces with various types of seating and desk configuration, rooms with varying functions and equipment and many computer terminals all of which I was pleased to see where being used to full capacity. In terms of their goal to “serve the scholarly information needs of its staff and students”, they seem to be doing very well on this front, as I would expect from a system of libraries with a $18.5 million budget. It seems there is still work to be done, however, to ensure faculty staff’s preferences for resource format (a dislike for e-textbooks by the mathematics staff, for example) don’t infringe on the libraries’ role of serving the students in the best way for the students.
Evaluation Rating _4/5
Very interesting, but I was much more interested to see the actual libraries as much as hearing about how they are run in a PowerPoint presentation.
It would be better to cut the PowerPoint time down to allow for more touring of the libraries themselves. Perhaps breaking into smaller groups as was done in the State Library would have been a better way to view what the U.Melb libraries had to offer.
Reflection The RACV club library is a specialty library I never knew existed until I had this chance to visit it. It is a highly specialised library in which member club fees pay for its existence and this causes a large sense of ownership from the club members, which in turn seems to cause issues of members wanting a say in what is collected in the library.
Lisa Sukkel surprisingly mentioned that the very small children’s section is the most used section in the library, however has no plans to expand it. I feel this should indicate the library would be improved by expanding this section. Library promotion seems to be done very well, in part because the library has access to a professional photographer and graphic designer for newsletters and pamphlets. I also thought the library caters well to its patrons through interests meetings (such as a travel club) and online learning classes, as many of its patrons are of an older generation. Overall it was a very fascinating specialty library and a great asset for members of the RACV club.
Evaluation Rating _5/5
I thoroughly enjoyed having the chance to see this specialty library, and would never have known its existence if not for this study visit. It was interesting to compare to a government funded library as it has a more delicate balancing act of pleasing its member who fund the library through their membership as well as pleasing the club management who allocates the budget. Members feel a large sense of ownership of the library and this can be difficult when collection development might differ from what they want the library to collect.