On Thursday I had the pleasure and privilege to spend the day with the Associate Director of Public Library Services for South Australia visiting four City of Onkaparinga libraries: The Hub (a joint use secondary school/public library); Noarlunga (a joint use post-secondary/public library); Seaford (a joint use secondary school/public library); and Aldinga (a brand new public library just opened in February). It was a fantastic experience.
The Hub Library
I know that many of you are not library folk, so I won’t get into great detail about all that I learned that day — not only about the individual libraries themselves and how they work, but also about the library system in South Australia (fascinating!). However, you may be interested in some of the ways library service is managed in the joint use school/public libraries. Because schools and teachers have a duty-of-care for students during the school day, some special structures and policies have had to be put into place. Both libraries have two entrances, one from the school and one for the public to use. Both libraries also have the service point (and public entrance) essentially at the midpoint in the library, with the adult fiction and children’s collections on one side and the non-fiction, computers, and teen collections on the other. During school hours, the students are not supposed to go past the ‘public’ entrance and into the children’s/adult fiction areas; they also are restricted to using the school wifi. However, once school is over, they are public library users and have full access to the whole library and the full public wifi. It’s interesting to see how the libraries have managed to work within the schools’ requirements for more managed environments while still ensuring that the public library philosophy is upheld.
Two of the libraries (The Hub and Aldinga) also serve as service points for council services – licences, permits, etc. This makes the libraries destinations for people who may not normally come into the libraries, but introduces them to libraries as community spaces. Oh and that reminds me. One of the permits that you can pick up at Aldinga Library is a beach permit. A beach permit allows you to drive on the beach!!! But not to drag race or anything anti-social like that. Instead people drive onto the beach, park, and set up for the day. Sometimes they have awnings that they attach to their cars, plug-in a little fridge — all set for a day at the beach. I was told that in the height of summer the beach can be lined with a thousand cars. Quite amazing…