Sustainability and libraries: staff matters


We’ve looked at the themes of ‘proving our worth’ and the future of libraries and librarian education in the past, but it’s worth revisiting here in the context of sustainability of our libraries, services and staff.

In a paper from the IFLA conference in 2011, Peter Genovese and Patricia Albanese from Global Library Consulting in the USA said:

Most would agree that libraries should be places to nurture human possibilities and aspiration. In the coming decades, libraries and hybrid services and learning organizations will become more essential to sustaining human potential, yet they will be challenged by economic, social, and political pressures.

Using case studies from Africa and Greece, they identified issues relating to staff, services and the library’s continuing existence in the face of difficult social, environmental and economic challenges. (If you click through to the paper, this part starts on page 17, the first bit relates more to green buildings).

In 2016, library staff across the globe are responding to challenges often quite different to those faced by the previous generation of librarians. Libraries are increasingly places of technology, maker spaces, community meeting and learning and wifi hubs – as well as the more traditional access to information.

At the Hong Kong Academic Libraries 4 conference in June 2016, Diane Cmor from Nanyang Technical University Libraries in Singapore highlighted how essential it is to invest time and resources into staff development in order to ensure sustainable services into the future that meet the changing needs of clients.

The University of Wollongong Library has recently embarked on a digital literacies workplace program for staff to help ensure all staff have the skills and knowledge required to embark on new way of providing services to the library community.

In 2014, Victorian Public Libraries commissioned a research report that both outlined current skills of public librarians and looked at what is required to meet future demand.

What’s happening at your library? Are you ready for the skills and services of the future? What ‘traditional’ library services are you considering changing in order to remain sustainable?

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