Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The official version

Hi everyone
in case you would like a more official version of the itinerary and some background information to give to potential funders for the trip I have included the following: If you need it in Word let me know and I'll send it to you.

Great Public Libraries Tour - USA

Background Notes


The Great Public Libraries of the World Tour has been independently organised by Christine Mackenzie, with travel arrangements through Voyager Travel Corporation, Jolimont.

Christine Mackenzie is Chief Executive Officer of the Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service She has visited all but one of the libraries on the tour itinerary and it is her personal contacts with the managers of these libraries that have made this tour possible. This tour follows the very successful and rewarding Viclink tour in 2008 to libraries in Southeast Asia, Scandinavia and The Netherlands that was undertaken by 15 participants either working in or interested in public libraries. The tour has had a significant impact on thinking about public libraries, evidenced by the amount of publicity and interest that it has generated. There have been numerous presentations, conference papers and reports on the tour and what we as public librarians can learn from the best practice libraries that were visited.


The study tour departs Melbourne on Saturday 12 June and returns on Saturday 3rd July. Over the twenty one days of the tour participants will visit major libraries in the USA. Highlights will include:

- Los Angeles Public Library, one of the largest public funded library systems in the world. The Central Library was originally constructed in 1926 is the third largest in the US and the architecture mimics that of ancient Egypt.

- Seattle Public Library, opened in 2004 is architecturally stunning and received a national AIA award in 2005

- A visit to the Gates Foundation in Seattle

- Columbus Public Library in Ohio is acknowledged as one of the leading libraries in the US and one of the most used

- Queens Public Library in New York, which has just been awarded Library of the Year by the Library Journal and serves one of the largest immigrant populations in the country, it is well known for its innovative programming

The public libraries selected for this tour are amongst the world’s best; each demonstrates excellence in a wide variety of ways; and all are very different to Victorian public libraries, thereby maximising the opportunity for learning.

- In addition to the visits to libraries, participants will attend the American Library Association annual conference in Washington DC, which regularly attracts 20,000 delegates. This conference features an amazingly comprehensive program as well as a very diverse and large trade exhibition.

A day-by-day breakdown of the itinerary is appended to this Briefing. It is a tightly packed itinerary, with only two full rest days. Participants will be otherwise visiting libraries, attending official functions associated with the tour, attending at the conference, or travelling.


A target of twenty participants (or delegates) has been established for the study tour, although up to thirty could be accommodated.

The tour is open to anyone, and is being advertised nationally. It is envisaged that the majority of delegates will be connected to the Victorian public library industry and may include:

- library service managers/Chief Executive Officers responsible for the strategic direction of libraries

- other public library staff interested in gaining a wider perspective on the library world

- senior local government officers and/or Councillors whose responsibilities and special areas of interest include public libraries


The potential benefits to individual participants and to the Victorian public library industry include:

- New ways of seeing and valuing public libraries in the community, from a country where they are significantly better resourced and more high profile than in Australia, which will assist Victorian public library managers in their advocacy efforts.

- Specific ideas for innovation in service delivery and management practice for individual library services, gained from seeing ‘first hand’ some of the world’s best practice.

- Practical information about how existing programs and services could be more effectively delivered, by seeing how others operate.

- New professional contacts and networks for ongoing discussion and development, especially important in a country as geographically isolated as Australia.

- Ideas for collaborative and possible statewide initiatives from countries that have long track records of success in this area.

- Revitalisation for participants who have been in the public library industry for many years and will continue to be key players for some years to come.

- Inspiration for participants who are in earlier stages of their careers and are the leaders of the future.

At the very least, the tour will encourage participants to look ‘outside the square’ and to ‘think big’.


PLVN Great Public Libraries of the USA Tour

12 June – 3 July 2010

12 June (Saturday)

MelbourneLos Angeles

14 June

Los Angeles Public Library

Los Angeles Public Library. With over 6 million volumes, LAPL is one of the largest publicly funded library systems in the world. The Richard Riordan Central Library, originally constructed in 1926, is a downtown Los Angeles landmark. It is the third largest public library in the United States in terms of book and periodical holdings. There are many interesting and varied programs and one of the first teen libraries is based here.

15 June

Los Angeles - Seattle

16 June

Seattle Public Library

Gates Foundation

Seattle Public Library was opened in 2004 and designed by Rem Koolhaas, a famous Dutch architect. The building received a 2005 national AIA Honor Award for Architecture.

While in Seattle we will also visit the Gates Foundation to learn about their work in the international library area.

17 June

Seattle - Chicago

18 June

Chicago Public Library

Urban Libraries Council

The Chicago Public Library is one of the major institutions in the city and with nearly 11 million volumes it is the largest library system in the Midwestern United States and one of the largest public library systems in the United States. The Chicago Public Libraries consist of 79 branches including the central library. In 1991, the Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago's new central library, named for the late mayor, opened to the public. It was the world's largest municipal public library at the time of its opening. Since 1994 the Chicago Public Library has been led by Commissioner Mary A. Dempsey who launched an aggressive rebuilding project, replacing or rehabilitating the majority of Chicago's neighborhood library branches. It has been the largest and most successful urban library expansion in recent history.

Visit to this organisation that has commissioned important research and is a major advocate for public libraries in the USA.

20 June

Chicago - Columbus


21 June

Columbus Public Library, Ohio

CML is acknowledged as one of the leading libraries in the US and its mission is "to promote reading and guide learning in the pursuit of information, knowledge, and wisdom."
The library is one of the most-used library systems in the country and consistently ranks at the top of its class. Last year, customers borrowed more than 16 million items, made 8.2 million visits to the library and asked 1.2 million reference questions. Columbus Metropolitan Library includes the Main Library, Outreach Services Division and 20 branches conveniently located throughout Franklin County.

22 June


Founded in 1967, OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing the rate of rise of library costs. More than 71,000 libraries in 112 countries and territories around the world use OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalogue, lend and preserve library materials. OCLC provides the software for LibraryLink Victoria.

23 June

Columbus – Washington DC

24 June – 29 June

ALA conference

A full conference program will be available in early 2010. This is the major conference for the library industry in North America and regularly attracts 20,000 delegates. The trade exhibition has over 1,000 exhibitors.

29 June

WashingtonNew York

30 June

New York Public Library

The New York Public Library (NYPL) is one of the leading public libraries of the world and is one of the State’s most significant research libraries. It is composed of a very large circulating public library system combined with a very large non-lending research library system.

1 July

Queens Public Library, New York

Queens Public Library has just been named Library of the Year, it is the busiest library system in the USA and has 62 branches. It serves a large immigrant population and has many innovative programs running.

2 July

Depart NYC

3 July

Arrive Melbourne