Stawell Library, Wimmera Regional Library Corporation, Victoria, Australia.
Sepe took our Practical Outreach course as part of a large rollout to more than 100 staff across the State of Victoria in 2019. She works in a small country library that is very popular with its readers.
Sepe says: “As I worked through the course I came to realise that this was an opportunity to make a more meaningful readership connection. I could look beyond a library-based view of getting numbers through our doors and identify places/groups that may benefit from a reader-centred project.
With this in mind, I went back to an area of my job that gives me the greatest pleasure, and that is working with children. Also, being a mother and grandmother, I have a concern about children and youth who find themselves (usually due to circumstances beyond their control), at the police station, courtroom, and hospital admittance waiting room, for an extended period of time. Additionally, these places usually don't offer much respite for these children and youth.
That experience can be both boring and stressful for children. Sepe wanted to create reader interest and engagement, simply with the presence of well-chosen books, where there had been none before.
Sepe chose an initial collection of 40 books taken from the library’s current collection. She initially thought of using discarded books but soon decided this would not give the exciting and tempting experience that her readers deserve and would not reflect the quality and range that the library could offer. She aims to refresh the books every month. The project, which started in late 2019, has proved popular with the target readers and also with volunteer care workers and the police partners.
Sepe says: “There is a definite need for this kind of project in my community. My contacts from the local police and neighbourhood house praised the library for coming forward with this incentive and were keen to get it underway and to see it through. I've shared this idea with the manager of a neighbouring library in another district and they have taken up the project! They are working with the same police welfare officer we work with, and their pilot R&R bookshelf is based at the Ararat police station. We will work together on monitoring the progress of this project.
If you want to hear more, or get up to date on how Sepe’s project has progressed, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org