Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Finding My Place: The Fairfield Library Experience

Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Finding My Place: The Fairfield Library Experience

Article excerpt

"Finding My Place' (FMP) is a library based program designed to assist some of the most disadvantaged members of the community--young people who are disengaging from the school system before they complete a reasonable level of education. With its origins in Western Australia; this paper looks at the program as it has been adapted by Fairfield City Library and partnering agencies. Run as a series of motivational workshops held in the library or, at times, as an excursion, the program aims to engage these young people with the broader community. Edited version of a paper presented at the conference "Learning for all: public libraries in Australia and New Zealand Melbourne 13-14 September 2012'.

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Most young people attend school regularly and successfully attain a qualification; a minority leave school early for a variety of personal, family or school related reasons. Others facing complex problems may remain enrolled, but are not engaged in learning and exhibit poor attendance or behaviour.

These young people need to be identified early and provided with extra support to help them to remain actively involved in their learning and achieve Success.

Background

Finding MY Place (FMP) is a program designed to assist some of the most disadvantaged members of the community--young people who are disengaging from the school system before they complete a reasonable level of education.

The program runs as a series of motivational workshops held in the library or, at times, as an excursion. The presenters are chosen for their ability to relate positively to young people who are disengaging from school. This disengagement includes truanting, misbehaving and not achieving the educational requirements needed to stay in school.

Finding MY Place originated in 2003 at the Ruth Faulkner Public Library in the city of Belmont, Western Australia as the brainchild of librarian Natasha Griggs who was concerned that the library was not reaching out to this particular group. As a result of the successful pilot in Belmont, the WA department of education and training financially supported the roll out of the program across public libraries throughout Western Australia in 2004. State government funding for the program in Western Australia has now ceased but residual funds have allowed the program to continue through to 2013. The program is still running in both metropolitan and regional libraries throughout Western Australia and generating very positive outcomes for young people. Whilst state government funding for the program is no longer available in Western Australia, it does not prevent local governments from funding and delivering the model to their own local communities, as has been the case with public libraries in both South Australia and Victoria.

After hearing Natasha Griggs speak at the Auslib 12 to 24s @ Your Library conference (1) in June 2010 Manjit Uppal and Carolyn Bourke were very inspired, and on returning to Sydney put a proposal to the Fairfield City Library Service manager, Anne Hall, to run the program for students in the Fairfield local government area.

Approval was given, but with no access to a budget or engaging speakers it was essential to set up partnerships. This was accomplished through a partnership with South West Connect (SWC). Among other programs SWC runs a partnership brokering program, the aim of which is to build sustainable partnerships to support young people's engagement in education or training to realise their full potential.

Discussions with SWC (2) and Natasha Griggs in WA (3) led to a decision to run a trial FMP program. Marlborough High School, which is within walking distance of Fairfield's main library, was approached to take part in the trial program and responded positively.

SouthWest Connect also introduced the library to Youth Connections (MTC Work Solutions) who became a key partner in the program. …

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