How do you redevelop a public library in the digital age? The Tasmania ALIA Students and New Graduates group met with Garry Conroy-Cooper, manager of the Launceston Learning and Information Network Centre (LINC) on 24 June 2015 to discover some answers to this question. Garry took us on a tour of the old library building in Launceston’s civic square, soon to be reopened with innovative features that reflect a commitment to community, information and public spaces.
Tasmania’s Learning and Information Network Centres (LINCs) is not a traditional “library” in both name and services. As Garry explained, LINCs are in the competitive service industry, and have expanded beyond physical collections to offer a wide range of services for the community. An example of this at the Launceston LINC is the focus on literacy skills programs for children and adults. There are literacy coordinators and tutors that assist clients with various activities, such as reading to children and filling out forms. Workshops for job applicants will also be provided to support the community. In addition, LINC’s redevelopment will allow for several large meeting areas as well as after-hour access. Technical conveniences such as Wi-Fi, computers, and self-checkout stations will also be offered.
It was apparent that careful attention was given to the physical layout of the building design. Despite being the most popular public space in the area, they have a modest budget to work with that requires creativity. A vibrant atmosphere is provided with an on-site café and light wells stream into the building. There is an emphasis of employing open space that allows clients to work or relax, independently or collaboratively in a pleasant setting. Several bar tables with power outlets look out on the historic civic square. Staff’s role in the redeveloped LINC will be more proactive, as traditional service points have been reduced that will lead to roving interactions. In addition, dynamic art gallery systems and historical collections will be showcased. Children’s collections have expanded, and there is a breastfeeding room to accommodate this.
The few and far between members of the Tasmanian New Students and New Graduates group took advantage of this excellent opportunity to see first-hand how libraries are taking aggressive steps to maintain an important community presence. Thank you to Garry Conroy-Cooper for spending time with us and showing us the redeveloped Launceston LINC.
– Jeff Schneider, ALIA Students and New Graduates Group Regional Coordinator for Tasmania