State Library of Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 6 October 1970


The Library Council of Victoria's Master plan

The Library Council was constituted in 1966, following the recommendations of the Jungwirth Board of Inquiry. It has now drawn up and submitted to the State government its Master Plan for library reform and development in the State. The government has immediately begun to act on the recommendations (see below).
The main points of the Plan may be summarised as follows:
1. 87.5% of Victoria's population has access to library services in 157 municipalities out of 211. But the demand is unsatisfied and the quality of service is not good enough. More money, and more better-trained staff are needed.
2. The State Library building is out of date and decrepit. It has been condemned by local and visiting librarians. The Library's services need to be developed so that, as the central library, it can provide more support to other libraries, keep its stock in good repair and its acquisitions at a proper level.
3. The Library Council has already begun a reorganization of the structure of library services throughout the State. This service will, in future, be called the Victorian Library Service. It will have two Divisions—the State Library Division (as before) and the Public Libraries Division (formerly the Library Services Division).
4. The Council believes that the archives section should be removed from State Library control and established as a new Public Records Authority in accordance with the recommendations of the Public Records Advisory Committee.
5. The Council has revised the functions of the State Library, including its acquisition policy, to complement rather than duplicate the services provided by other libraries. It has prepared a written set of ‘minimum standards’ for the guidance of all public libraries.
6. The Council has prepared a new grouping of local libraries into regions. The regional system is the basis of metropolitan and country organization and has been developing for twenty years. Under the Council's plan the State will have 12 country regions and 9 metropolitan regions.
7. The principal recommendations are:
(a) that the ceilings on per capita subsidy be increased from 40 cents (metropolitan) and 50 cents (non-metropolitan) to $1; that regional grants be increased from $78,000 to $250,000; that capital grants for new buildings and for initial stock be given on Council's recommendation; and that cadetships replace scholarships for library training;
(b) that the State Library should have a new building, preferably on a new site, and that a Government Committee of Inquiry should examine this and the alternative, i.e., extensive reconstruction; that a substantial increase be made in the staffing vote of the State Library;
(c) that the Archives Section be detached from the State Library to become the basis of a Public Records Office;
(d) that the State Government impress on the Federal Government the need for Federal funds for public library services.

The Function of the State Library

The Council has reviewed the functions and acquisitions policy of the State Library, and has resolved that it should complement rather than duplicate the services provided by municipal, public and other libraries. The collections and services
that it provides should be open to all, but the specific needs of children and the day-to-day needs of adults should be met by the municipal libraries. The State Library will concentrate on providing a wide range of materials of a more specialised type, and making them available partly through personal reference at the State Library, and partly through the Municipal Support Service.
Twenty-four specific functions of the State Library have been defined (pp. 11–13). The Lending Library is to be closed, and the Melbourne City Council is expected to expand its library services. A detailed programme for assessing, weeding and repairing the Library's bookstock has been adopted. As a short-term programme, until a new building is completed, it is intended to re-locate services and undertake minimal alterations to the building as follows: newspapers are to be removed into compact storage in the basement; the catalogue and almost all the staff are to be moved to the ground floor; additional stack space, better communication and some mechanical means of book delivery are to be provided.

The La Trobe Library

The La Trobe is only mentioned in the Plan in connexion with its one outstanding need for additional staff. The document states: The position has been difficult ever since the wing was opened in 1965. Because only 20 positions were provided in place of the 27 asked for, the hours of the Library had to be restricted, and are still restricted, to the great inconvenience of scholars and students. But meanwhile the excellent service provided in the La Trobe Library has resulted in a vast increase in the demands made upon it, and the present staff can no longer cope even with limited hours. Worst of all, the library was opened before it was properly ready and arrears of work on the La Trobe catalogue have never been overtaken; on the contrary they are increasing.


The Report of the Public Records Advisory Committee is included as an appendix to the Plan. This thorough report reviews the whole function of State Archives, recommends a separate authority with an Advisory Council, outlines an Archives Act, and recommends a very liberal policy of public access (open from date of transfer from Department to Public Record Office, except that Ministers could order withholding of particular records for periods of five years at a time — reasons for extending any ban would have to be made public).

The State Government's Response

1. A feasibility committee has been established to examine the question of a new library elsewhere or on the existing site.
2. A detailed study has begun of ways and means of establishing a Public Records authority.
3. In the current Budget some small additional grants have been provided for library services. The Premier has honoured his promise in his policy-speech before the recent election to raise the ceiling of per capita grants to non-metropolitan libraries from 50 cents to 80 cents, and grants to regional libraries have been raised from $54,000 to $100,000 (compare the recommendation of the Master Plan in 7 above). Slight increases have been made in the State Library's book vote and the fund for purchase of historical items.
However, it is greatly to be regretted that no increase of the staff of the State Library has been allowed for. Consequently, staff-shortage in the La Trobe
Library will remain as serious as ever and the present limited hours of opening cannot be extended. The government's response to the Master Plan has thus, so far, been very limited. It is little consolation that, because of the crisis in State finances, virtually no other government departments have been granted staff increases
Copies of Public Library Service in Victoria. A Report to the State Government may be obtained at $3 from the Secretary, Library Council of Victoria.