Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Measuring Their Success: Colocated Library and Community Services

Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Measuring Their Success: Colocated Library and Community Services

Article excerpt

Point Cook Community Learning Centre (PCCLC) was the first colocated library and council .facility model in Wyndham, Melbourne. This model was a major investment for its council and because of growth pressures is already being replicated. Many parties have been keen to understand how the model is working and the impact it has upon the community. Using quantitative measures such as numbers through the door and program participation, the PCCLC has been a very successful, but how are the less tangible outcomes such as sense of place to be measured? Discussed are how a three tiered evaluation approach, including independent social research techniques, are used to measure and better understand whether desired outcomes are being reached. Edited version of a paper presented at Connection and convergence. second international conference on joint use libraries Adelaide 3-4 November 2011.

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The colocation of public libraries with other services is becoming increasingly common, but the makeup of these colocated services varies greatly, depending on local opportunities and needs. Examples of agencies libraries are colocating with include museums, archives, family history centres, childcare centres, learning centres, universities, health services, leisure facilities, local government offices, tourist information centres, theatres and community space. In Wyndham, libraries have colocated with other council facilities including kindergartens and community rooms to form community learning centres. Measuring the success of a centre which is the sum of a unique group of colocated services requires new approaches that address the needs of service providers, decision makers and the community.

Background

The city of Wyndham is located in Melbourne's outer south west and is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Australia. It has a population of around 172,000 which is expected to reach 266,000 by 2021. More and more people are moving to Wyndham--about 10 households a day. More and more residents are having children. Over the past year 3059 babies were born in Wyndham, which equates to 59 babies each week. For its planners that means making provision for more than two potential kindergarten classes each week. Point Cook is the most populous of Wyndham's growth areas with a population of 32,000 and an estimated population of over 50,000 in 2021. In Point Cook 0-4 year olds make up 27% of the population. (1)

This growth presents opportunities for Wyndham's council to influence the development of well planned and serviced communities. It also represents a major challenge to combat the sometimes featureless and impersonal face of rapid urban growth.

Creating a sense of community is the first strategic theme of the Wyndham city plan. Building a community rich in social, cultural, leisure and lifelong learning opportunities having regard to women and men, cultures, abilities and sexualities is the council's first priority. (2)

Place making and community building

Within this dynamic development space Wyndham's public library infrastructure has emerged as a central player in place making and community building. There is a growing recognition of the social role of libraries as hubs of their communities. Much recent research on public libraries reinforces the view of the continuing importance of library as place, as an environment for users, and as a launching pad for many services. (3) There has been a transformation from process and collection centred buildings to buildings which focus on communities and their needs. People are spending longer in libraries. Onsite use is outstripping growth in loans. (4) As one comment in the Libraries/Building/Communities reports observed, libraries are our best chance to create a centre of community spirit and activity. (5) By colocating libraries with other services Wyndham council is leveraging this community building role to help create a sense of community. …

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