On Thursday I attended Impact 2010, the Public Libraries NSW Conference jointly hosted by Upper Murray Regional Library and Riverina Regional Library in Albury. There were many good speakers reflecting on the value of libraries to their communities. Anthony Roberts (shadow minister for citizenship, volunteering and the arts) stated that research has shown for every $1 spent on public libraries there is a return of $4 to $8 in economic and social benefit to its community. Bob Carr (former Premier of NSW), a keynote speaker said, “we must think at all times of young people who don’t grow up with books.” There were several speakers who spoke about recent innovations including ebook collections, the use of Flickr for photographic displays, and the online delivery of the library course.

Sarah Garnett, founder of the Benjamin Andrew Footpath Library, also spoke and told the story of how the library began and how it has now grown into a charity. She emphasised the value of literacy and told several stories which reflected the difference the library has made in people’s lives, particularly in terms of their self-esteem and social skills.

Generally speaking librarians don’t make the best public speakers and going to library conferences can be a bit of challenge for this reason. However with the wide variety of speakers and topics, this turned out to be a very worthwhile day.