Special issue of the Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association

Prof Philip Hider has just written up a guest editorial for an upcoming issue of the Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association featuring some of the papers presented at the Fifteenth Australasian Conference on Research Applications in Information and Library Studies (RAILS), held on 28 and 29 October last year at St Mark’s National Theological Centre in Canberra. Philip was chair of the conference’s program committee, with the event being hosted by CSU’s School of Information Studies. The conference’s themes was ‘Towards critical information research, education and practice’, and if ever there was a time for a critical approach this is probably it, with so many competing messages being peddled by various powers around the world. Criticism begins at home, though, and there were a number of papers at the conference about how library services need to reach out more effectively to disadvantaged groups, and how librarians need to reflect not only on how they deliver their services, but also on why they do, and what their impact is (or is not).

A couple of the articles in the special issue are co-authored by LRG members. Jessie Lymn, together with Tamara Jones (a student in CSU’s Masters of Information Studies course), report on a survey they’re doing on student newspaper collections to be found in Australian university libraries, while Philip has written up the presentation he and Hollie White (Curtin University) gave on film genre vocabularies used by film institutes in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. A total of 39 papers were presented at RAILS 2019, with 60 delegates in attendance. Present circumstances might derail (no pun intended!) the plans for this year’s RAILS, which was going to be held at the Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand.

Libraries in Australian Juvenile Justice Facilities

Parkville Justice Centre sign

Dr Jane Garner

In late 2019, I undertook a unique study of the status of libraries in Australia’s juvenile justice facilities. The goal of the study was to discover how many libraries were in our juvenile justice facilities, how they were staffed, funded, and used by the young people living in correctional detention. As each facility houses a registered secondary college that all residents must attend, there was a particular interest in how these libraries were contributing to the education of detainees.

My preliminary findings identify that there are sixteen juvenile justice facilities in Australia, and of these, twelve provide some sort of library service to their residents. Of those twelve libraries, none are staffed by a person with library training, five are no more than a collection of books in a classroom, while the remaining seven have their own dedicated space. The collections of seven of the twelve libraries play a role in the educational programs of the facility, with that role ranging from the provision of reading materials for kids in ‘time out’ due to disruptive behaviour in class through to teachers and students accessing the collection for resources that are relevant to the classroom activities and lessons. 

I will be publishing my detailed findings of the current provision of library services to Australian children living in correctional detention along with a discussion of the value of libraries to user groups such as these in the near future.