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Posts tagged ‘libraries’

Brisbane Writers Festival

Brisbane Writers Festival Logo

I’m appearing twice at the Brisbane Writers Festival this September.

The program is out today in papers across the city and you can see it online at the website of organisers UPLIT.

On Saturday 10th September from 4-5pm, I’ll be at Queensland Art Gallery speaking on “The Rules of Engagement“, a panel with Kate Pullinger and Caroline Keins exploring the changing ways that artists, institutions, and communities interact.

Then on Sunday 11th September, I’ll help a panel of scientists and science-fiction writers to explore science, imagination, and identity. Join Dr Maggie Hardy, Prof Tamara Davis, Ellen van Neerven, and Dr Maree Kimberley for “Science and Belonging“, which I’ll be moderating from 11.30am-12.30pm at The Parlour in the State Library of Queensland.

Find out more at the UPLIT / Brisbane Writers Festival website.

Brisbane Times on Bernard King

The Brisbane Times has just published a story on the State Library of Queensland’s acquisition of the last ever interviews with Aussie celebrity chef Bernard King.

I discovered the tapes after writing an edition of Marvellous, Electrical about King and his place in Australian pop culture.

To read more about how we discovered these materials and why we’re putting them online, read last month’s blog on the Bernard King tapes.

Queensland Heritage Leaders Workshop

Back in May, I led a couple of sessions for Queensland’s Heritage Leaders Workshop, exploring ways to turn audiences into participants and expand the conversations we have at panels, keynotes, and other events.

Videos from the day are now online and you can see more from Queensland’s Heritage Leaders event at the QANZAC 100 website.

Queensland Fun Palaces 2016

“We believe in the genius in everyone, in everyone an artist and everyone a scientist, and that creativity in community can change the world for the better.

We believe we can do this together, locally, with radical fun – and that anyone, anywhere, can make a Fun Palace.”

– Fun Palaces Manifesto

October might seem far off, but plans are underway for Fun Palaces across the Sunshine State in 2016.

What’s a Fun Palace? It’s the opportunity for a community to come together and explore the arts and sciences for free.

From fancy inner-city venues to radio stations, theatres, websites, suburban parks, swimming pools, remote tropical islands, people’s back gardens, and, yes, libraries, Fun Palaces are a way for people to get together with friends, family, neighbours, workmates, and strangers in their community, to celebrate the artist and scientist in all of us.

Theatre director Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price came up with the idea of Fun Palaces back in the 1960s. They imagined “a laboratory of fun” that would serve as a pop-up community venue for both art and science.

Today, Fun Palaces take place all over the world on the first weekend in October, allowing communities to be part of something bigger, setting off sparks of inspiration and connection which lead to lasting benefits for the people involved.

Fun Palaces illustration

Fun Palaces are for all ages and all members of a community; they can be big or small, low-tech or high-tech, dramatic or domestic. In the small country town of Parkes, New South Wales, we devised a 2014 Fun Palace that let kids and adults join forces to create superhero games from recycled materials.

In 2015, I was co-producer to 11 simultaneous Fun Palaces across a 13-mile stretch of South London. Football clubs and firefighters, jewellers and businesspeople, comic stores and kickboxers, university students and lecturers, plus many more all joined forces to celebrate the arts and sciences in the London Borough of Lambeth. London’s 2015 Fun Palaces also included an online comic maker built for us by the State Library of Queensland, where I’m currently based.

If you’re a Queenslander who’d like to get involved with Fun Palaces this year, our team at the State Library can give advice and support, or connect you to venues which are already running Fun Palaces across the state – including every single public library in the city of Brisbane. We’re also equally excited if you just want to make a tiny Fun Palace in your office or your garden or your kitchen, with your mates or your neighbours or your family.

We all have something to offer, we all have something we’d like to learn or explore. If you’d like to join the adventure in Queensland, either contributing to a Fun Palace on the weekend of 1-2 October, or helping Fun Palace organisers in the run-up to their event, contact the State Library’s Signature Team.

Chalked Fun Palace sign from Brockwell, London

Image by Shelley Silas

State Library of Queensland: Something Wicked This Way Comes

How can we support regional communities without stifling their creativity?

What is the role of major cultural institutions in helping people across remote, rural, and suburban areas?

Just how many carny folk are there working at the State Library of Queensland?

This week’s edition of my column at Library as Incubator explores the work of the RAPL team at the State Library of Queensland, who work with regional and public libraries across an area three times the size of France.

Advancing Queensland’s Public Libraries: A Report

What are libraries trying to achieve? What’s helping them, and what’s getting in their way? What should a big organisation like the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) be doing for its smaller siblings across the country?

Advancing Queensland's Public Libraries report cover

These are some of the questions discussed in Advancing Queensland’s Public Libraries (PDF download), a research report prepared by SLQ and the PwC Chair in Digital Economy at Queensland University of Technology.

It tells us:

Results indicate that local governments, who own and manage libraries, do not always see the positive impact libraries have on the community, and this limited awareness keeps governments from investing more resources and giving the libraries free reign.

However, free reign and resources are the primary things libraries need to make an impact. Strategies that help overcome this challenge include proving impact through evidence, gaining freedom in communication, using innovative methods to circumvent red tape, and acquiring resources locally.

Pointing out that many non-library-users and even library staff are unaware how much libraries have changed and what they can now do, the report’s authors encourage librarians to connect with peer organisations, source skills and resources from their local community, and identify “low-cost yet high impact marketing techniques.”

The report recommends that Queensland’s State Library builds “an inspirational network of equals to stimulate mutual exchange…develop and realise visions together, and share success stories and mistakes”; it warns that “combining services should only be pursued if there really is insufficient funding to offer services separately […as] combining services primarily means that library services suffer”; and it tells us that in Queensland,

the community’s appreciation for their library seems to be highest when, on top of preserving and guiding access to collections, libraries also stimulate and guide

  1. Access to newly emerging technologies,
  2. Creativity,
  3. Community exchange,
  4. Connection, and
  5. Fun.

And you know what THAT makes me think of.

You can download a PDF of the full report, Advancing Queensland’s Public Libraries, now.

Human Library at State Library of Queensland

Human Library books from the State Library of Queensland

Saturday saw the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) host its first Human Library as part of the Big Day of Belonging festival.

After a member of the public approached our team asking about a “scheme where you could borrow people like library books”, I contacted the global Human Library organisation in Denmark and also Toronto Library’s Linda Hazzan, who runs one of the world’s most outstanding Human Library programs. Linda in Toronto, Ronni Abergel in Denmark, and Greg Watson of Human Library Australia all provided advice and mentoring to us.

Human Libraries let you borrow people instead of books for a short conversation with someone you might not ordinarily meet in your day-to-day life: people with unusual life experiences or special skills, people who are marginalised or stigmatised in society, people who are – as we all are – well worth listening to.

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Thinking the future through toys

Evil begins when we begin to treat people as things.

– Terry Pratchett

I bought a toy at the weekend. It was a cheap little thing, an impulse buy in the supermarket queue. Although I’m a very geeky man, I don’t normally buy toys. I’m not a keep-it-mint-in-the-box sort of person; nor am I interested in filling my house with pop-culture statuettes.

Windblade toy on the planning wall at State Library of Queensland

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A Speaky Week

On Tuesday, I’ll be over at the University of Southern Queensland, giving talks and workshops to staff and students across faculties. You can follow them online via this livestreaming link – the fun kicks off at 11am Australian Eastern Standard Time.

Then on Thursday I’m joining the Broadband for the Bush Conference on rural and regional access to digital technology and communications, running a presenterless workshop session on planning for the future. I’ll be drawing on science fiction, Afrofuturism, and comics alongside debates around copyright, government policy, and the presentation of financial data.

You can follow via the hashtag #BushBroadband on social media. I feel like non-Aussies are going to think that’s something far more salacious than it actually is…

The Library Ghost

During #BlogJune, workers in galleries, libraries, and museums Down Under commit to writing daily blog posts about their work.

One of my favourites is The Library Ghost, written by Kyla Stephan of Gold Coast Libraries in Queensland.

The blog, which has run intermittently for several years now, records the correspondence left at a librarian’s desk by the ghost which haunts her building.

Library Ghost Episode 1

We only ever see the ghost’s side of the conversation, but follow the progress of their relationship over the months and years, as the icy spirit – “I could not, in all honesty, be described as benign” – develops a certain affection for the mortal whom they haunt.

I love that Kyla invites us into a tender and wryly mannered fiction, invoking library magic to share the world of her imagination. Go check out the Library Ghost this #Blogjune.


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