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.


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.

Townsville Adventures

Last month, I went up to Townsville in North Queensland with a team of staff from the State Library.

I worked with Townsville staff on strategy and innovation for a couple of days, then we invited around sixty people from across the region – and across the culture sector – for a day of workshops focussed on service innovation and professional development.

We discussed everything from robotics to scrub turkeys, David Bowie’s creative process to President Obama’s response to Muhammad Ali’s death, all the while thinking about how our organisations could better serve the communities we’re part of.

You’ll hear more about all of these projects in coming weeks, but for now here’s a report from attendee Sabine Carter.

Townsville was famously the setting for turn-of-the-millennium cartoon series The Powerpuff Girls – our team’s iPads are named after the lead characters Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup.

I’ll leave you today with Frank Black of the Pixies signing a Powerpuff-inspired song…