A Romance on Three Legs: The Ivory Archives / @IAMLaustralia

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?

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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.

Check out “A Romance on Three Legs: The Ivory Archives” now.

Decolonising reading: the Murri book club of Townsville, Queensland

The brilliant Janeese Henaway of Townsville Libraries has just co-written an academic paper with researcher Maggie Nolan.

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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.

Read ‘Decolonising reading: the Murri book club’ in Continuum Journal of Media & Cultural Studies today.

#NotEnoughScifi: John M. Ford & the Funny Business / Coda

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.

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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

Pineapple GLAM with @amywalduck

Today I’m joined by Amy Walduck, Queensland State Manager for the Australian library association ALIA.

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Amy’s a government research librarian, musician, social media maven, and culture professional extraordinaire. She’s also creator of the @QLDLibraries Twitter account celebrating library achievements across Australia’s Sunshine State.

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Amy was my partner in crime on various initiatives at the State Library of Queensland, including baking cakes for occupational therapists at Griffith University. She’s a natural networker, enthusiastic, innovative, and determined: great qualities in an ever-changing sector like Libraryland.

Pinned to the top of Amy’s Twitter timeline for most of 2017 has been this statement:

I started our chat by asking Amy: Why did you make this your 2017 life goal?  Read more

A new strategic vision for Queensland public libraries

My University of Southern Queensland colleague Kate Davis and I have won the tender to review the strategic vision for public libraries in Queensland, Australia.

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We’ll be drafting a successor to the existing VISION 2017 document after a season of consultation, workshops, surveys, and interviews with library staff, managers, and key stakeholders from across the state.

Find out more at the State Library of Queensland’s PLConnect blog.

Library Island hits #nls8

My professional development roleplay Library Island visited the New Librarians Symposium at the National Library of Australia last weekend.

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Librarians old and new joined forces to explore their work with communities in new, messy, and productive ways.

Going beyond the vogue for design thinking, the safe, fictional space of “Library Island” allowed us to engage with knotty questions of office politics, limited resources, managerial edicts, and library users who are sometimes airbrushed out of “future visions” – such as homeless people or those whose behaviour might be challenging to staff. Read more

Interview with @coffeemiss: creative leadership @slqld

Library as Incubator features my interview with Vicki McDonald – aka @coffeemiss on social media – State Librarian and CEO of the State Library of Queensland, Australia.

Vicki spoke with me about libraries as creative spaces supporting business and community projects as well as the arts and education. She also shared her own journey from a small-town library to executive leadership and strategic development roles in universities and local government.

Vicki says:

“The power of libraries is in their responsiveness.  Our community can ask to see anything in the collection; and we strive to encourage serendipity. If you think of a local public library and the way a community feels comfortable to walk through the doors and ask for our help, our services, it’s very different to how the public treat a museum or a gallery. At the State Library level, that means responding to the curiosity in people – and even encouraging them to be more curious!”

Read her full interview at Library as Incubator.

Library Island: The Professional Benefit of Play

What is the professional benefit of play? When is it better to impose an objective, and when should we learn through experimentation and happy accident? How can we “fail better” without wasting valuable resources?

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In this month’s Library Life magazine, I explore these questions through an account of the Library Island project I’ve been developing during my time at the State Library of Queensland.

Could it be that our next innovation challenge is to break down the walls between fact and fiction? Could story-based, open-ended play be as valuable for professionals as for children? Could it be physical, low-tech, and improvisational as well as digital?

You can read Library Life April 2017 here as a PDF download – my piece starts on page 12.

Three sentences – a good day’s work

Sometimes three sentences are a good day’s work.

I’ve been helping library leaders to refine an elevator pitch for the work State Library of Queensland does with public libraries.

RAPL, the Regional Access and Public Libraries team, has a range of duties – from administering grants to delivering professional development, fostering peer-to-peer networking, and setting industry standards. RAPL staff also promote literacy and wellbeing for children under five years old, support the digital skills of senior citizens, and advocate to local government on libraries’ behalf.

How do we condense that into something that is clear, elegant, brief, and compelling?

Well, here’s what we came up with:

Our scope, our goal, our offer:

Queensland has over 300 public libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres in communities from the desert to the reefs, from the mountains to the Torres Strait.

Together with local government, we ensure all Queenslanders have access to great public libraries that help communities thrive.

We advocate for public libraries, support their collections, their staff, and their programmes, and we share their successes.

Read more

Cocktails at the end of the world

Some nice feedback from a recent professional development session for library staff in Moreton Bay, Queensland.

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Project officer Karen Hewett from the town of Noosa evaluated an Innovation in Libraries training day run by State Library of Queensland together with Moreton Bay Libraries.

She wrote:

“If you have already had the pleasure of hearing Matt present, you will know to expect the unexpected. He had us replicating cocktails to find a solution to stop the world ending. Using a pack of playing cards with STEM careers on them, we managed to do just that.”

Sounds a bit far out? Here were the practical and applicable insights Karen took away from the session:

“We could easily replicate this activity in the branches during a team meeting. It would take about 10-15 minutes. It really cemented the concept that no matter what is thrown at you, if you look at it creatively you will find the tools to solve the problem.”

“Library staff constantly think on their feet to meet customers’ changing needs. It really made me appreciate the diversity of our team and how each of us has specialised skills making the collective team adaptable and resourceful.”

Read Karen’s full report at the State Library of Queensland website.