I alluded to my busy Auckland week in Friday’s post announcing my New Zealand Book Domino Challenge – for which the prize is cake, so if you are a Kiwi librarian and feeling adventurous, please join in.
The Cake Is Not A Lie
Last Saturday saw Auckland Libraries take their services into the city’s comic stores for Free Comic Book Day, as part of my project to expand librarianship beyond the walls of individual institutions into the wider community.
I was then interviewed by the erudite and wonderfully geeky Emmet O’Cuana for his podcast The Momus Report, with the discussion ranging widely from the educational value of pop culture to the Kierkegaardian implications of the 1978 movie Star Crash.
This week also included a visit to Auckland Libraries from Tracie Mauro of Parkes, NSW – a daring and innovative librarian whose work appeared on Monday’s Library as Incubator Project. Tracie and I travelled the Far North District in New Zealand, exploring library services and programmes in rural areas far from my usual Auckland beat.
Yesterday I was quoted in the New Zealand Herald, in a satisfyingly positive article which recognises that the 21st century library is about so much more than just shelves…and I also took some time out for a trip to the Christchurch vs. Auckland roller derby match, which reminded me of this neat guest post on roller derby and librarianship from Melbourne’s Jordi Kerr.
If you’ll excuse me all, it’s Sunday evening, so I will now go for a lie down…
Aussie kids become little Michelangelos in a Sistine Chapel library activity!
“Libraries need to understand literacy in the broadest sense – exploring all of the senses in the way kids and teens relate to the diverse services they have to offer.”
There’s coverage of some amazing work from my colleagues in Parkes, New South Wales over at the Library as Incubator Project.
Forgive the shameless self-promotion, but I’ve just been featured in the latest edition of Australian Books & Publishing, speaking about community outreach, daring to be different, and why rural Australia proved one of the most exciting places to create children’s and youth events for libraries.
It’s a subscriber-only link, but there is the option to sign up for a free trial.
You can read my profile piece in Australian Books & Publishing Online.
A guest post by urban planner turned librarian Jessica Begley. What can libraries do to help users make the most of their spaces?
“Desire lines” – unofficial footpaths created by human behaviour
Like the Pixies, I believe in Space.
I have been fascinated by how and why people use space, and how subtle design can influence behaviour, for as long as I can remember.
As a teen, I merged this interest in social geography with psychology and came up with a degree in Urban Planning and Design. I was going to change the world. Improve open spaces. Create spaces people felt happy in. The reality I found was far from my planned dream. Rows of brickwork, overshadowing, trellis screens, and complaints all dominated my day. Not even I liked the spaces I was approving. Approving, not designing.
Fast-forward fifteen years. I am still an urban planner, but only in my mind. I have been trained to look at spaces, movement of people, land use, all in a certain way. I can no longer look at a space like an ordinary person. Taking my kids to the shops, the park, the library, I analyse the flow of movement through space. When I see conflicting uses, I see a design-based solution. When I see desire lines – the unplanned paths naturally taken by people in any setting – I read them.
In the last of three features pushing the boundaries of what librarians can learn from pop culture, Melburnian writer and roller derby official Jordi Kerr tells us what libraries can learn from the glamorous, full-throttle sport of roller derby.
In the second of three features pushing the boundaries of what librarians can learn from pop culture, we take a visit to Melbourne bookstore Polyester Books and talk readers’ advisory with one of the most provocative booksellers I’ve ever met.
Polyester Books – the self-proclaimed ‘World’s Freakiest Bookstore’ - spells trouble. It did from the moment I discovered it.
I was visiting Melbourne for the first time and a friend recommended an alternative bookshop at the far end of Brunswick Street in Fitzroy.
I had no idea where this was, so on a visit to the State Library of Victoria, I asked one of the youth librarians to help me find it. She googled ‘Polyester Books’ on a State Library computer terminal and we were both immediately confronted with the store’s incredibly NSFW logo.
As Polyester proprietor Jo Emslie puts it, “If that sign upsets you, don’t look around our shop, ‘cos your head’s gonna explode!”
- Polyester Books, Melbourne
Yet Polyester’s commitment to supplying all kinds of books, DVDs, zines, art, and periodicals is deeply relevant to the mission of 21st century librarians. I dropped in to the shop for a browse and was impressed to find the likes of obscure Austrian novelist Hermann Broch on the shelves alongside the more eyebrow-raising fare.
So what can librarians learn from the World’s Freakiest Bookstore?
As my regular readers will know, Friday 9th November saw a very special event in Tullamore, New South Wales. Australasian libraries have run a lot of innovative youth activities in recent years – but I think this was the first time that they had gone so far as to summon the living dead in the name of literacy…
A selection of photographs from some of my recent workshops for children and young people in New South Wales.
These school holiday sessions in libraries offered high quality speaking and listening opportunities alongside exciting and unusual hands-on experience, with attendees also producing a range of narrative and non-fiction writing amid the fruit smashing and tower building!
You can see more images from the spooky mining themed workshop “Mysteries Underground” at my Tumblr page.
Adele Walsh, aka Snarky Wench, runs the Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne.
Adele’s one of my writing heroes because she used her blogging skills to shift from a career as a schoolteacher to a dream role as champion of youth literature in one of the coolest and most hipsterious* cities on the planet.
After I blogged on the unexpected joys of copywriting, I started to think of other writing careers that don’t focus on the ‘hunched over a desk cranking out a Great Novel’ model, and Adele came to mind.
There’s a lot of waffle written on the Internet about following your heart and living the dream – but Adele really did find a way to turn her passion into her career, using her writing skills as a springboard.
Here’s Adele on ‘how to get your dream job in 10 (easy?) steps’: