September’s Marvellous, Electrical newsletter tells the story of Jay, who found himself running the sole pub in a country town of twenty thousand during a year of renovations.
Is a library just a machine for making knowledge?
In such a place, can a piano be a research tool?
Why did a Kindertransport refugee from the Nazis acquire Glenn Gould’s favourite instrument for the National Library of Canada?
Photo by National Arts Centre Archives, Canada
In advance of Australia’s 2017 IAML conference of music librarians, you can read the story of Gould’s beloved Steinway CD 318 over at Library as Incubator.
The brilliant Janeese Henaway of Townsville Libraries has just co-written an academic paper with researcher Maggie Nolan.
The paper, ‘Decolonising reading: the Murri book club‘, explores the project to create and support an Indigenous book club in a regional Australian city, led by Janeese in her capacity as Indigenous Library Resources Officer.
If book clubs are an overwhelmingly white phenomenon, through which members ‘maintain their currency as literate citizens through group discussion’, what does it mean for Indigenous people to create and run their own book club? How does it differ from other clubs and activities? What are the tensions, concerns, opportunities, and expectations when Indigenous people reshape the book club format for their own purposes?
Janeese and Maggie explore decolonization of the book club as a social, cultural, and political institution. They ask how this project might address white ignorance and explore empathy across ethnic groups, and they consider the tension between oral and written traditions for Indigenous people living in the Australia of 2017.
“We look to Los Angeles
For the language we use
London is dead, London is dead…”
I never really listened to a lot of Morrissey, thinking about it. I mean, I had a bit of a Smiths phase at university and I put ‘Last of the International Playboys‘ on the mixtape for a stag do once — that’s about it.
Then Ziba Zehdar-Gazdecki, a cool librarian from Los Angeles, shared photos from a book event on social media.
Mozlandia? I had to find out more.
We come to the final instalment of this series on the forgotten but brilliant science fiction writer John M. Ford.
Over the last few posts, we’ve looked at how he made nifty comedy out of the Star Trek franchise, and how his interest in games allowed him to lend nuance to the usual goodies-vs-baddies-in-space shenanigans when he was playing in other people’s universes.
We also thought about why thinking science-fictionally matters when we try to find new ways of doing things for our communities, our organisations, ourselves. And we considered how good ideas move between the world on the page and the world beyond it.
I wanted to end by coming back to Ford’s actual life in Minneapolis. Read more
I started reading obscure author John M. Ford’s Star Trek books recently and I was blown away by how good they are.
I mentioned this online and other Ford fans started coming out of the woodwork:
Then I picked up a rulebook for a roleplaying game – GURPS Infinite Worlds – to research a time-travel-themed event I’m working on with a client.
Of course, whose name did I find among the co-authors?
Ford wasn’t just a novelist or poet – he also worked on role-playing games, devising scenarios and background material that other people could use to play out their own stories.
The past couple of years I’ve been working on ways to use such games for professional development, so I was pretty excited to have Ford come back into my life so soon.
Not only did he work on Infinite Worlds – a time-travel/parallel universe setting which, as the title suggests, can encompass almost any other scenario or genre – but he created an award-winning caper for the game Paranoia, and a manual for people who wanted to play as the traditionally villainous Klingons in the Star Trek game.
And here’s where we come back round to Ford’s novels, and to the making of fun and brilliant things in the cracks and spaces of big-money enterprises.
Here is where we talk about The Final Reflection.
Life is messy. The structures and services we design need to reflect that.
Creative responses to the world resist programming and procedure. You have to be flexible when you seek to address the challenges of this uncertain, unpredictable existence.
And if you’re going to plan and scheme a better future, that process should be intellectually stimulating, exciting: fun, even. Because if a vision of the future doesn’t engage, convince, and inspire, how are you going to make it work?
Let’s talk about Star Trek.
I’ve been thinking about where we go next.
It’s a big part of my job, which essentially has two sides.
One of them is connecting and coaching people to bring their own bright ideas to fruition: finding resources, partners, and opportunities for them to realise marvellous initiatives.
Another part is scouting out the unmarked territory, the unknown spaces beyond service models and strategic visions, the opportunities we hadn’t even considered yet.
That includes using speculative fiction, sci-fi, and fantasy as a way of thinking about how things could be different…and what comes next.
We’ve been talking about how to address the messy reality of library services over the last few weeks: not just the artists’ impression, the managerial vision, or the designer’s response to a brief.
With Dr. Kate Davis, my colleague at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), we looked at using information experience to address community needs; before that, Auckland’s Jerome Rivera gave a wry take on the demands of frontline library service under the tagline “Code Brown“.
It goes beyond cleaning up after users in a public library setting, though. Code Brown – understood more broadly as an attempt to address overlooked aspects of library information work – takes many forms and exists in many spaces.
Over at Public Libraries News, Rachael Rivera of Auckland Libraries in Aotearoa New Zealand talks about how her central city library developed services for homeless people.