Looking to the future

Last week I attended the NSW Public Libraries Association‘s AGM via Zoom. This was a first for all of us. Normally the AGM follows the Association’s highly regarded SWITCH Conference and in the past has been the scene of some heated debate. Sadly SWITCH had to be cancelled, another victim of COVID, but the AGM was required to go ahead and everyone “pivoted” to make it happen (oh how I am over that word!)

The AGM is also the setting for the Association’s Awards and I admit to having a vested interest in several of these. In particular I was keen to hear the result of the Kath Knowles Emerging Leaders Award, given biennially to staff members who have been working in the library profession for less than ten years.

To my delight the 2020 recipient was Prue Fogarty, a vibrant colleague from Shellhabour on the NSW South Coast. Prue’s project Digital programming for today & tomorrow: Preaching to the converted or a new world waiting? will explore the ways in which public libraries responded to the COVID pandemic through digital programming and will question the ongoing value of these programs now that “normal ‘service has resumed. She will also seek out successful program models and collate and evaluate the results to share with the NSW and wider public library network.

I am excited to be mentoring Prue through this process. Her vision exemplifies the original approach adopted by Kath Knowles after who the Award is named. Kath, former Chairperson of Public Libraries NSW – Country (previously known as the Country Public Libraries Association of NSW) passed away on Friday 19 November 2010 at the age of 39. She was acclaimed as an inspired leader who brought a fresh and practical perspective to the various roles that she occupied. She was committed to equality and diversity, and had a strong commitment to people with disabilities.

I will keep you in the loop about Prue’s project.

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