Future Focused Service Models for Public Libraries

Usage of Bayside Libraries dropped by around 60-80% during COVID due to library closures, restricted access and limits on community movement. Bayside Libraries saw this as an opportunity to review what alternatives to traditional library branch offerings could be made for the community. Bayside was successful in receiving a Victorian State government grant in 2020 for Living Libraries which was an opportunity for Bayside to explore what these different service models could look like.

The project in-house was referred to as “COVID Recovery” as it addressed two key public library innovations for southeast Melbourne with accessibility, especially as we were still dealing with the unpredictability of lockdowns and density limits in our branches. The identified initiatives were developed to enhance community access to library collections and facilities.

Hampton Library is much smaller than the other three Bayside branches (only 200m2) and plays a much different role in the network. Hampton is a well-loved village library at the end of the shopping strip opposite Hampton Station. Without the space and range of services/facilities offered elsewhere it did not attract many users from beyond the immediate area.

Now accessible as an out of hours access library between 6am and 10pm 7 days a week, Hampton has a unique offering that is being taken up by the local community. There was also an opportunity to revisit a concept that had been flagged for several years – having click and collect lockers for their reservations. One early concept was to place lockers outside one of the library branches, but further refinement of the idea evolved into creating a library presence in a previously underserved part of the municipality.

Hurlingham Park was identified as an ideal location. Partnering with other Council departments already in the precinct (e.g., Maternal and Child Health, families and children, youth, sports and recreation) to deliver mutually aligned services. The location of Hurlingham Park is also on the Nepean Highway which is a major arterial in southeast Melbourne and provides Bayside Libraries with a high-profile presence which is not available at its other locations.

Both of these initiatives have been embraced by their respective communities and future planning will include identifying other out of hours access points and locker locations in the municipality.

Karen Reiter

Library Customer Service Co-Ordinator, Bayside Libraries

Author Bio

Karen has over 25 years experience working in public libraries and has had a focus on connecting communities via their local library branches. In her current role she has been part of the team to deliver innovations to the Bayside Community in South-Eastern Melbourne.

Trevor MacKay

Library Resources and Programs Co-ordinator, Bayside Libraries

Author Bio

Trevor has worked at Bayside libraries for 19 years in a range of roles. In his current position he has had a focus on library innovations especially during COVID lockdowns and then reconnecting library members with innovative access to the library collections.