How Would You Spend $1Billion On Library Services?

I’ve been at the Queensland Public Library Conference (QPLA) these last two days learning about what’s happening in public libraries in this neck of the woods. New Zealand doesn’t have a conference specifically for public libraries so this is a new experience for me.

The theme of this year’s Conference  is “What would Andrew Carnegie think now?!“and yesterday’s afternoon session captured my imagination. The session was titled “Hypothetical bequest from Andrew Carnegie Foundation provides $1Billion to provide library services. How should it be spent?”

Eight fabulous speakers from public libraries, museums, archives and philanthropy gave their viewpoints in short ten minute segments and then it was opened up to the audience for discussion.

Discussions included, but were not limited to:

  • Family literacy magnifies to impact the entire family and the community they are part of. Invest 50% to sustain whole of life learning in learning precincts. (Sylvia Swalling)
  • Make it easy for remote communities to participate in the digital economy. (Jo McGill)
  • Invest the full amount and live off the interest. Consider centralised purchasing and processing in Queensland and accelerate the rollout of the National Broadband Network. (Susan Coker)
  • Capture the intent of the donor and build it into something long-term. Plan and work together with one voice. (Carolyn Robertson)
  • Consider philanthropic investments and partnerships. (Kathy Davisand Henrietta Beane)
  • Throw out the old model and take a grassroots approach. (Jennifer Clark)
  • Invest in programmes and services that have social impact -technology, efficiency, literacy and enjoyment. (Robert McEntyre)

Any my idea: take a more entreprenuerial approach. Decide on what an ideal public library service should look like (as a country) and then invest in commercial opportunities to fund community opportunities, marketing and staff development to make that happen.

How would you spend $1billion?

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