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Lisa Bellear – art & history 

27 Jun

Today’s #blogjune post is about Lisa Bellear, a Melbourne indigenous artist and activist, and a friend; and how her art has become a rich historical source. 

Lisa passed away 10 years ago, unfairly early. Her friends and family put together an exhibition from her collected poems, photography and media projects at the Koorie Heritage Trust, Federation Square this year. It’s open until 17 July 2016 so if you’re in Melbourne go and have a look.

Click here for exhibition details: Close to you: the Lisa Bellear Picture Show

Lisa had a wonderful sense of humor, an innate ability to entertain or communicate with all audiences. She lived her life to help others, both through her social work job and her feminist and indigenous activism. She took part in Australian rallies, fundraisers, sports events, any community events. At all of these she took photos, and to ensure that this was not a one way act, she would mail back copies to those she photographed with messages of where and when. 

So now with all she collected there is a rich historical archive of images from both daily life and significant protests and events in the Melbourne indigenous and feminist community throughout her time there. Her family and friends have donated much of her work to the Koorie Heritage Trust and now it will slowly be catalogued to allow it to be reused and accessed by researchers. Lisa spent time herself in both academic and community circles, and would surely love her work to help tell more stories. 

A rich legacy, alongside the richness she added to so many lives, like mine, through her friendship. 

I want to add a ghostly whisper to my library

25 Jun

Here’s a fun idea I haven’t been able to put into any of our library branches yet!

Someone gave a presentation years ago about a Scottish academic library that has a motion sensor in the air lock between it’s lift and it’s quiet reading room, so that once you get out of the lift and head purposefully to the doors a voice says {out of thin air} 

“Ssh! Please be quiet in this space.”

Aside from the fun of filming freshers responses to this during O Week (or the joy of a student hacker changing the message for you), this is actually a very good method of warning library users about the usage rules for an approaching space, without requiring the confrontation that can arise from sending staff around to accost people in the library space.

Another technique I have heard used has been to send library staff through quiet areas wearing sandwich boards with Ssh!!! written on them. Or library staff walking around quiet zones with a sheet of paper that reads “Please be quiet” that they can show chatty customers, without needing the stress of having a conversation with them, potentially louder than the original disruptive sound. 

How do you ask clients to respect quiet spaces in your places of work?

Do you have customers who still want quiet spaces? 

What surprises could I check out?

24 Jun

So impressed by this initiative from Colorado libraries where you can check out a backpack with compass and hiking map to explore national parks – see here

As my friends started to have children I discovered that there are fabulous communal “libraries” out there for community needs other than books – toy libraries, nappy libraries. Spaces that lend items that are only needed for a time and then can be returned to be used by others. Very simply, just by being, they fight the commercialisation culture which tries to insist that everyone yearns to buy and hoard more, more, more. 

Which leads on to the wonderful concept of human libraries. The idea that books are not the only information store or key to knowledge. Just as your mind can be expanded by reading someone’s story, so too can your mental world be expanded by hearing someone’s story, meeting the reality behind  stereotype’s such as “single, unmarried mother”.

*** Hmmm I think the theme of the power of communication through stories must be fermenting away in my subconscious; it is undoubtedly the winner of most mentioned #blogjune 2016 theme for me. ***

So what else could, should we be lending from our libraries? 
What could we lend that would fill the connectivity gaps in our communities? 

Board games? 

Someone who listens without judgement (a phone to Lifeline with tissue box and surrounded by cushions)? 

Mobile phones?

Free Skype sessions for people far away from their friends and family

Kindness challenges? 

Puppy patting?

A free hugs stand?

A laughter club

What would add value to people’s lives and create spaces for those who are marginalised? 

Sleeping bags

Meal vouchers

An open kitchen to cook food for yourself or for others 

Could we have stitch and bitch days where the homeless or financially deprived come to choose knitted scarves, hats etc directly from the person who  created it? 

The Footpath Library explores some of these ideas.

What would you check out to others and why

Library talks

23 Jun

I am sitting in an internal library forum at my work place this morning. It leads me to muse on the importance of how and what library staff choose to talk to people about.


As a chatty extrovert it’s not a surprise that I enjoy clear, engaging, verbal presentations. Especially if they offer interactivity. However engaging does not have to mean highly articulate. One of the most engaging conference presentations I have ever heard (and I have been to a LOT of library conferences), was from an accountant in a public library who said himself that he was not comfortable with public speaking. He gave a talk on the library budget excel spreadsheet he had set up to show clearly Return On Investment (ROI) on his council’s library initiatives and programs. The talk went for 45 minutes, and despite verbal stumbles the interest of the speaker in his topic, his genuine enthusiasm in how this easily accessible tool could benefit libraries in fighting for resources, offered a deeply engaging talk. A room without adequate air conditioning  played host to a rapt audience of 60 people, and questions continued well into the lunch hour.


So to me although as a professional I would expect library speakers to practice their talk, not start with a tale of how bad they are with PowerPoint and avoid reading directly from their slides – the most important factor for a speaker is a real interest in their topic.


This toptic relates also to one of my previous #blogjune posts about using stories to communicate across audiences.


The importance of fresh perspectives

22 Jun

Today two library cadets came over to my workplace to start spending some time learning our workflows. 

They are happy, confident, engaged, interested and energised.  Talking to them about Wednesday and the dreaded “hump day” paralysis, led to other connecting conversations and I finished up feeling relaxed and energised too.
After racking up 24 years myself, with accompanying cynicism, it’s going to be great to have people full of newly acquired information  to explore library services with – minus baggage. 
On a similar note, I recently attended a great conference without any librarians, aimed instead at the not for profit sector. The main topic, of connecting with community and supporting it’s growth was inspiring. Other themes explored about how to connect with your audience, identifying what you can offer and ensuring your solution fits those  needs were all common to my work – and hearing them outside of a library environment allowed me to really see them differently. 

So here’s to the energy of new ideas.  

On that note – a thankyou to my #blogjune colleagues Katie and Abigail who have shared their own thoughts on what energises them. 

Time spent on email

20 Jun

A question to everyone out there about work email loads. 

Does anyone use a time tracking software or app? I’m trialing  something called RescueTime at the moment but I don’t yet understand how to set it up to give me meaningful data. At some point however I should have a breakdown of how much of my work goes on email/calendar, how much on document creation, how much on web surfing (eek).

Anyone tried anything else to help with email overload?

I find Inbox Zero useful but sometimes it’s processes lead to me getting more caught up in email, devoting more time to it than other work in an attempt to reach email clearance nirvana.   
I do love though. 

Been adding this to the majority of my replies as an email signature for 4 years now and it has really reduced the amount I have to read, to answer and the lengthy/chatty expectations of what is required for email etiquette. 
Anyway any other ideas – please let me know in the comments below. 

What energises you at work?

17 Jun

Today I worked from home. I do this one day every 2/3 weeks and I get all my sitdown, don’t interrupt, long long documents done without distraction. 

*note: As an extroverted, verbal, people focused person I can get very easily distracted in any group setting. 

I have a very calming supervisor on these days too:

I also usually manage some reading and reset my priorities for my To Do list.

Today’s thoughts following these last 2 actions were about what energises me at work. The original question I had was what motivates me at work; however thinking further I realised I was actually looking more for what will bring my energy levels up

I’ve only just started thinking about it, and it’s already showing me why I am feeling a little disengaged lately. Although all my work at the moment is contributing to goals I think are important, a lot of the work is not energising me, turning my to do lists into a bit of a mountain to tackle.

So I’m going to start to intersperse the things that do energise me into my daily routine, rather than keep slogging away at the other duties and wondering why I slow down.

So far my list includes

– collaborative work with other people

– mentoring 

– brainstorming specific problems  

– learning something new

– listening to users

I’d be interested to hear what energises you at work in the comments.