Dudley – we can learn

Today I had the real pleasure of visiting Dudley Public Library – in Dudley. I was recommended to visit by the conference organiser Sarah McNicol and yes we can learn a lot from them. There are 18 libraries in this area and I met with the manager of children and youth services, Hazel. Despite the rain the welcome was warm and friendly and her and Lyn had so much to share both in terms of strategy and operational and not all good news either.

Restructuring sees them under community engagement, specialist positions given a rethink e.g. Will Reference positions be retained as the impact of the people’s Network has reduced the demand for these services, Reader development officers are new, Information and Study Support librarians, Early years Officer and all library staff are expected to deliver on all customer service experiences e.g. they take turns at running children story times – huge implications for roles, time and professional upskilling.

This has not gone unchallenged by some staff. However a noteworthy initiative is the Engaging teenagers in the selection of books. A teenage content team is allocated $1,500 from Sept – Dec to select books and promote accordingly eg Boys Choice, Teens Choice. Interestingly in the first year of operation the books selected would not have been the librarians’ choices, but the issues for the young people’s selections justified the retention and roll out of this concept to other groups e.g. childrens 7-10, 10-13.

Lots to soak in apart from the rain! Wireless has proved elusive as are internet cafes. Birmingham Public closed on Sundays, updating when and where possible. Wolverhampton LC tomorrow and then two days with staff at Birmingham Public – a full programme 8.30-5pm planned and time with MLA on Friday so will need the weekend to recover

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