Libraries Together: Liverpool Learning Partnership

With only a hint of jet lag wobble, and shakes after navigating the M60 in rush hour traffic,  I arrived at the annual conference of the LTLLP at the Hope University in Liverpool.  Named ‘Whirls of Activity: Exchanges of experience for current initiatives in the Liverpool Libraries’, the morning programme included presentations and opportunities for discussion around a wide range of topics.  Feeling right at home with library ‘whanau’ I actively engaged in the discussions and discovered many areas of connection and resonance. 

The first session I chose to attend in a hot, non-airconditioned classroom was presented by Sue Hodges – Technical Services Manager at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). Setting up a Digital Scanning Service for lecturers and students at the University was detailed in the talk and there was much discussion around copyright issues and the limitiations and loop holes of the Copyright Licensing Act.  Sue outlined their project process, from writing a discussion paper through to pilot model, licensing issues, outsourcing, the value of having the best technology, and how the service functions.  For me this session was not really in my realm of experience but the details and discussion around E-thesis, digital imaging and digital repositories I know are discussions happening in our Content, DLS and ANZC teams currently.  On return I will access the presentation as it was very detailed and would provide some useful points of discussion for colleagues.

Central Library 2010  The title of this session got me very excited as we are always in search of nuggets of inspiration and wisdom.  Sadly the presentation by Tim Parrott – Redevelopment Manager for Liverpool Library offered nothing more than reminders of how we at CCL are leading the charge in many aspects of library services. 

The Government strategy ‘Framework for the Future’ provided the framework for the project and themes were chosen after a round of manager sessions.  Staff were also invited to comment and leaflets handed to customers invited them to have input as well.  The single most important comment from the public was regarding the need for more quiet study space which is a theme we are hearing more in our libraries. The need for more accessibility, fewer large customer service desks, the introduction of ‘customer service pods’, and roaming staff were big breakthroughs.   However, I am hoping it was presentation nerves that made Tim say ‘ we will have more people out the back working on behind the scenes tasks than on the front desk’.   As the presentation progressed we discovered that the Central library is in 5 buildings with a large amount of stack space – alarmingly they are planning to put everything on the shelf in the future.  Every journal, every issue … say no more.  There is a need to provide a welcoming, identifiable entrance, another issue we are working on ourselves, as well as an exhibition space to display the many treasures housed in the collection and archives.  I imagine this would be great with such a strong and diverse history in the Liverpool area.  The Central library is a heritage building so all work must comply and be sympathetic to the design providing a real challange as well as an opprotunity to showcase a fantastic 1800’s building.

Liverpool City is small by British standards, with 450,000 residents.  The Central library gets 500,000 visits per year.  The library set-up in Liverpool consists of one very large Central library and a number of small libraries by our standard. 

Back to the themes … in a nutshell

  • Welcome  – open, shop window, primary point of contact
  • Express – fast access IT for quick visits
  • Read – books and multi-media for leisure
  • Discover – Children’s and Young People – pre-schoolers, Kidzone and Games – making the library ‘the street corner’ for youth.
  • Enquire – books, journals and study information
  • Learn – informal and formal, with or without IT.
  • Liverpool Memories – exploring family and the city’s past
  • Treasures – showcase for city’s collections within the most historic and beautiful part of the library.

As you can see there are familiar themes and some real heart put in to the project.  I will have available on return the large planning document Tim has been working on. 

Finally, the use of PFI’s was mentioned with much nodding and eyebrow raising.  More on that baby in my next post.

Check in again for What was here? and Popular culture archives.

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