In 2019, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) library is celebrating 45 years of being Australia’s national research and knowledge centre on crime and justice. It’s the library of choice for Home Affairs and other departments, academics and the general public, with its independent research being highly valued.
Michael Phelan APM, Director AIC, explained, “The JV Barry Library has been an important contributor to Australian criminology and the Australian library sector since its establishment in the mid-1970s. While its primary purpose is to support Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) researchers, the library also provides information and services to a wide range of other stakeholders, including the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
“The library has been maintained as an integral part of the AIC, representing the Institute’s high regard for quality information and the evidence base. Some of the library’s key services are its 11,543 hard copy books—a small number compared to the library catalogue which has more than 93,000 crime and justice related items. More than 100 new items are added to the catalogue each month. The library also provides literature searches and document delivery. Our library saves us valuable time by efficiently sourcing and supplying hard to access material.
“We celebrated the library’s milestone birthday with a morning tea and launch of the new research anthology, Crime and Justice Research 2019. AIC Deputy Director Dr Rick Brown and I selected 18 papers of national significance that are in line with the six research priorities of the AIC. I recommend looking at Crime and Justice Research 2019—it provides a useful overview of the AIC’s work, while also highlighting important research that is shaping Australian crime and justice policy.”
The AIC’s experience with its library supports the Australian Library and Information Association’s call for government libraries to receive more recognition for the value they add to their departments and agencies.
Association CEO Sue McKerracher said, “Government library users are our greatest advocates. They understand the value of the library service. It’s less visible, though, to senior management.” To address this issue, the Association has produced an infographic about 10 ways libraries power high performance organisations.
1 FACTS NOT FICTION
In a post-truth, fake news environment, the need for information professionals in the workplace is even greater than before. Information professionals are not only trained in research and critical thinking, they help others develop these skills. Anyone can Google; not everyone knows how to identify the most relevant, timely and credible sources.
2 DECISION-READY INFORMATION
With more than 4.5 billion pages on the internet and counting, executives are often overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of content available. Information professionals are skilled at filtering large quantities of data to find what’s needed. They can present this in a variety of ways, from infographic through to full report, helping to turn a loose idea into an evidence-based concept.
3 MAKING BIG DATA USABLE
The role of the information professional has always been to manage and curate data, whether that’s by cataloguing a collection to make it discoverable or by helping to turn a mass of statistics into a rich mine of information. These underlying skills are highly applicable in the context of big data.
4 TAILORED RESOURCES
Special libraries create collections tailored to the needs of their clients. Increasingly, these are digital collections, including ebooks, journals and databases. Information professionals keep up to date with the very latest products, print and digital, and are skilled at negotiating the best subscriptions for their employer.
5 ANY TIME ANYWHERE
Special libraries can support a global workforce to work any time, anywhere, by delivering information straight to people’s smartphones, tablets and laptops.
6 WORLD VIEW
Individual librarians participate in formal and informal networks with their peers worldwide. They stay at the cutting edge of information theory and practice, and are the first to hear about new content and software from suppliers in Australia and overseas. The benefits to their organisations are increased expertise, resource-sharing and efficiencies.
7 THE LATEST NEWS
Information professionals understand the special needs of their clients. They monitor the media, social media, print and online publications and other daily sources to provide alerts when highly relevant new information emerges. The information is targeted to organizational needs and objectives.
8 LEARNING ORGANISATIONS
Information professionals are critical for learning organisations. They support the professional development needs of other staff by providing appropriate resources within the collection that help them remain relevant in today’s knowledge economy.
9 IT EXPERTISE
The roles of IT professionals and information professionals are intertwined. IT staff manage the pipeline, information professionals manage the content that flows through it. Today’s information professional has a good knowledge of ICT and is a confident user of new technologies, which is a real asset to the team.
10 PRESERVING THE PAST
While much of the action in special libraries is digital, organisations will still have print collections and paper records which need to be maintained or replaced with digital facsimiles. Sometimes there are unique materials of historic significance. Librarians are the professionals who know how to sustain and future-proof this content for the next generation.
For more information about government libraries, contact [email protected].