Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Challenge and Change: Three Decades of Joint Use Libraries in the City of Onkaparinga, South Australia

Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Challenge and Change: Three Decades of Joint Use Libraries in the City of Onkaparinga, South Australia

Article excerpt

The city of Onkaparinga library network in South Australia consists of six libraries, three of which are joint use. The largest of the joint use libraries is Noarlunga (a Tafe/public library), followed by The Hub (a secondary school/public library) and Seaford (a 6-12 school/public library). Each of the joint use libraries represents a unique model of partnership with characteristics that have shaped and defined them, their operational success and their ability to achieve their goals. Involvement with these libraries (and other joint use library ventures outside this network) has given the opportunity to observe and assess the factors that have contributed to their success, or otherwise, and to identify those critical to them. The primary factor is the joint use agreement, complemented by the adeptness with which a library manager uses it. Edited version of a paper presented at 'Connection and convergence: second international conference on joint use libraries' Adelaide SA 3-4 November 2011

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Joint use libraries provide an opportunity to maximize the efficient use of resources to deliver two or more distinct services from a single location. Partners in such a venture can expect the resulting library service to be more than what they could resource and deliver on their own. A joint venture such as this provides the opportunity to build social capital by creating a valued community asset, delivering targeted services and becoming a social hub of the community. It offers opportunities for students to access a broader range of library services that they would otherwise be able to in a school library environment. It provides a 'home' space in which they can showcase their learned skills and where they can piggyback on the range of initiatives developed by the library within the guidelines of the joint use agreement which underpins service delivery and facility management.

Joint use libraries in South Australia

In South Australia joint use ventures, commencing in 1977, have become common because of the necessity to find sustainable library services that meet environmental challenges of distance, sparse populations, and limited resources. Their general success has bred duplication.

Although there are over 50 joint use libraries in South Australia there are no two models that are exactly the same. There are fundamentals that need to be considered and put in place that are peculiar to each model, due process to be recognised, funding secured, engagement and open communication and a host of other requirements--but no guarantee of success.

My experience with joint use libraries over the last 25 years has enlightened me on the merits of such services and more importantly provided the opportunity to observe and assess the factors that have contributed to their success, or otherwise, and to identify those critical to them. Over the last 14 years I have managed the Seaford Library and my observations and comments relate primarily to it, although I have experience and a working knowledge of the other two joint use libraries in the city of Onkaparinga.

Background

The city of Onkaparinga is South Australia's largest metropolitan council in area (518.3 square kms) and has a population of 162,925 people at 30 June 2010. The council library network consists of six libraries, three of which are joint use. The largest of the joint use libraries is Noarlunga (a Tafe/public library), followed by The Hub (a secondary school/public library) and Seaford (a 6-12 school/public library). Noarlunga Library is the longest established joint use facility in the council area (opened in 1982) and the Hub library was opened in 1984 (in what was then an adjoining council).

Seaford Library was opened in June 1997 as a new model of joint use library service providing services to the Seaford 6-12 school and the local community. It is a partnership between the city of Onkaparinga and the state's Department of Education and Child Development (Decd). …

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