Five minutes with Robert Knight
Even before being launched into fame by being awarded the Order of Australia for outstanding achievement and service, Robert Knight was considered an inspirational leader at Riverina Regional Library Service.
An exceptional organiser and motivator, Robert has managed and developed this significantly large Consortia for the past 20 years, and he has had a relationship with LIBERO for just as long.
We sat down with Robert to see if we could have an insight of how far the Library world has come in that time, what has helped it on its journey, and where it’s going.
What makes your library service so important in your community?
“The Riverina Regional Library Service is a large organisation that provides centralised services to 18 libraries in 10 local government areas, as well as a Mobile Library that visits 18 communities. Put simply, libraries add value to the liveability of our communities. They provide a broad range of collections, programs, services and spaces at no cost, and are accessible to all. Our mission – Inspiring people, engaging communities, enriching lives – is fulfilled in all our libraries every day that they are open.”
Since you started working, what is the biggest change in how the library works?
“Without a doubt, the biggest change in libraries since I began working in the public library sector 37 years ago is technology. Back then, the collection was comprised mainly of books and magazines with the inclusion of vinyl records. Even an “automated” circulation system required lots of human intervention. There were no mobile phones or email. Fast forward to 2018 and contemporary library management systems take care of jobs that previously required several staff; the internet and email have revolutionised the way that we conduct research and communicate; eCollections enable members to access resources from anywhere; and the focus has shifted to services and programs – for which there is a burgeoning demand.”
“The library sector has always been great at collaborating. Technology has enhanced this capability, enabling more and faster sharing of ideas and resources that further enhance the capacity of libraries to meet the massive array of current and emerging demands.”
What has LIBERO done to benefit library staff users since going Live in 1996?
“LIBERO has changed the way that our library service works. In the early years, it relieved staff from mundane and repetitive circulation tasks allowing more time for higher-value tasks. Later, it was the enabler for our “Collections to Clients” strategy that was implemented some years ago to shift the focus of our work from collections (procurement, cataloguing, processing, and circulating collections) to concentrate more closely on client / customer needs. This has proved to be a timely and strategic decision as demand for services and programs across all demographics continues to grow. As we move to the LIBERO Cloud, more time will be available to further develop other aspects of the RRL digital strategy, which will no doubt be a map for the future of the organisation.”
What’s next for libraries when it comes to technical advancements?
“Hosted services such as the LIBERO Cloud are something that all software products have done, are doing, or will do. The development and implementation of such services is another step in libraries freeing themselves of tasks that can be much better and more economically be performed by other providers, offering more time for strategy development and service innovation. It is clear that, whilst physical access to libraries and their collections and services offerings will always be important, the demand for digital access will increase. I expect to see much more collaboration in this space to ensure that libraries remain at the “top of the heap” as providers of information and reading material for all pursuits and interests.”
What do you want to see change?
“I would love to see a much better recognition by all levels of government about the importance of libraries to community development and well-being. State and federal funding for public libraries does not, in general, reflect their importance as community spaces, accessible spaces, learning and literacy spaces, information spaces and safe spaces. There are 1,500 public libraries in Australia that already provide a multitude of services to their communities. Imagine the collaborative power of that mass of libraries right across Australia with just a bit more funding!”
We think Robert has achieved his mission with Riverina Regional Library and we hope that the LIBERO Library software helped to support him over the past 20 years. We at Insight Informatics sincerely thank him for his patronage.