Who leads libraries in Australia? I don't know the answer to that (except that it is plural), but the National Library roadshow in Melbourne on Friday was great. The NLA senior management all rocked up, and spent the morning telling us about what the NLA is doing.
There are lots of exciting things going on. Newspaper digitising is exciting - imagine being able to search the full text of a daily newspaper back a century and a half. The work on a new-style library catalogue is striking, and the NLA is pioneering something we all want - Google meets the catalogue. People Australia looks a good service. Picture Australia has been operating for quite a while, and is now up to 1.2 million images. Although it doesn’t and won’t have as many images as FlickR (now about 300 million), PA has done a very successful pilot with Yahoo, and is using FlickR contributions to make substantial additions to PA. And Libraries Australia is something which no other country really has - when Libraries Australia is equipped with a new user friendly front end next year, say, it will be a stunning achievement. The NLA technical strategy is flexible, sensible and innovative.
And the National Library is certainly now more national in its reach than it ever has been. Margy Burn pointed out that in the most recent year 600,000 people used the library in person, and 300,000 physical items were used, but as many as 13 million online transactions dwarf this in-person use. Canberra-centric no longer?
As you can see, I’m an admirer. The National Library is a clear national leader in library technology and innovative drive than anyone else in Australian libraries.
I've just added Lorcan Dempsey's blog to my list of links because his is the best library blog, and he says very nice things about the National Library of Australia. The other link is Kevin's blog - Kevin is also contesting the position of vice president of ALIA, and he has a link to my blog.