Thursday, May 30, 2013

One Library to Rule Them All

The title makes it sound like Dr Who meets Lord of the Rings. The idea of one library isn't quite that dramatic.

The libraries in South Australia are in the process of joining together in a one library system. So far, I have only benefited from the move. I put a hold on a book I wanted several months ago and, when it came, it was the property of a library in a different part of the city. Similarly, a member of my writers' group saw a book he wanted at one of our meetings in a library to which he didn't belong. No problem; his card was good there anyway.

Last week I had a meeting with a friend I'm doing some work for. We went to my local library in order to use their wifi which is free to members. It's not just free for members of that library; any library card holder can use it. My friend belongs to another library but that membership allowed him use of the wifi. My work of editing articles on my friend's website just got a whole lot more portable. Maybe as the work increases I'll invest in a dongle but it's not necessary at the moment.

Generally speaking, I tend to find that centralisation can equal rationalisation and/or a cutting back on services. In the case of the one library system, however, I'm all for it. My local suburban library is a hive of busy-ness most of the time. Why wouldn't it be? It has computers, wifi, a toy library, pre-school activities, work tables, puzzles, magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs and, of course, books. And whilst it's great to be able to reserve a book from any library, it's equally good to just browse shelves with no specific book in mind until the perfect one leaps out in front of you. It's the best of both worlds for me. The only thing missing is a good cup of coffee to sip on while working or reading there. Other libraries now have cafes near or even inside the building. To be fair, it's really only a short stroll across a car park to the nearest cafe, however.

My writers' group meets at a different branch of the same library. It's the main branch and, when we're there on a Sunday afternoon, it's always crowded.

That all being the case, I think it's unlikely the one library system will jeopardise local branches. Besides, we'll need to collect our reserved books from somewhere, won't we?



  1. Hi, Rachel. We are sort-of centralized here in the States, though it's by county. I'm in the 3rd-largest county in the US, and it looks great. There are also counties you can throw a rock across, and it may not be quite the big deal there...

    This is a great example of how wonderfully centralization can work when it's, you know, working. Thing is, as soon as the budget has the least little shortfall, it's understood, at least here in the Peoples' Republic of California, that libraries, schools, and teachers are going to be de-funded first. Education? Now there's a luxury we can do without!

    Excellent observations, though; when it works, it really, really works.

    1. Our federal government, in an attempt to fund some much needed education reforms, is taking money from ... another branch of education. Robbing Peter to pay, well, Peter.
      I'm fairly sure that the one library system will save money, as well. There will be fewer copies of books, I'd suggest. (Shhh - don't tell Karen.) Hopefully, it will be the more obscure books.

    2. I heard that!!

      The reality is, I'm hopeless with libraries and always have been...I collect way too many fines for late books. Sigh... It's why I haunt the bookshops.