Happy birthday NewCardigan: Helping GLAM professionals be more awesome since 2016

I’ve come quite a long way from shy, idealistic student looking for work in libraries who often only attended cardi parties for the talk to newish and slightly more cynical academic librarian who is often one of the last to leave drinks. While I have become less shy, I apparently wasn’t quite confident enough to say all I wanted to say about NewCardigan in front of a crowd, so I thought I’d write it instead.

NewCardigan (via Cardi Parties, the CardiCardi and GLAM blog club) has been a source of hope and solidarity for the past three years. As a student, they gave me hope to discover there were people out there in my future profession doing many of the things I’d been learning and thinking about. As a new professional, they have given me confidence and new resources and connections to start trying to put ideas into action in my workplace and a support group when bureaucracies and knowledge silos started getting to me. It also became a kind of support group or refuge during challenging times, particularly a certain non-binding, voluntary postal survey period. When many other GLAMorous professional organisations made some fairly terrible public responses to this survey, and quite a few GLAM institutions were largely silent as they tried to be ‘neutral’, NewCardigan’s response was excellent and very much needed. In fact, there have been a few times when I’ve described the inclusive environment of cardi parties and accidentally led people to believe it was a queer GLAM group. It isn’t one but it is an inclusive and safer space with a code of conduct and it has given me the confidence to help start GLAM pride group in Victoria and work on a few GLAMorous queer collaborations. It was great to see that quite a lot of GLAM organisations appeared to have great responses too – I particularly remember the responses from a number of university libraries, Museum Victoria and ACMI – the latter two have both been involved in a number of cardi parties… possibly a sign that the organisations who host and support NewCardigan events tend to be progressive ones.

As a librarian, it has made me more connected to GAM colleagues, issues and ideas as well as Library ones – which has been essential for my role supporting history and archaeology students and academics. It helped me propose and create a popular Australian archival research guide for them and I regularly revise it by adding new things I learn about from NewCardigan and beyond. I started using Victorian Collections in classes and other resources I created in order to help stress the importance of using community archives and looking beyond the public record after learning about it at a Cardi Party. I’ve shared a number of other things I’ve learned about with lecturers and students across a range of disciplines – particularly history, archaeology and screen studies. I also learned a lot from PBS community radio library and archive that was very relevant to my work with another community archive – ALGA! there were a lot of strong parallels.

We’ve discussed GLAM blog club posts and CardiCast episodes at our lunch time journal club at MPOW and actually initiating and facilitating journal club has been partly inspired by Cardi Parties the NewCardigan JFDI ethos and we’ve found we quite often accidentally end up having very similar themes to GLAM blog club.

When I tried to think of my favourite Cardi Party from the past three years, it felt a little bit like choosing a favourite book. Impossible! However, I realised there was a common factor in those that I found most memorable: Museum Victoria. Their odds were quite good as with archivist Nik McGrath being part of the Cardi Core, Museum Victoria hosted or were in some way involved in a lot of Cardi Parties. The first one I remember was about Victorian Collections at the Melbourne Museum after hours. I’ve come across and used Victorian Collections in archivist and librarian adventures  quite a lot since then and it’s been great to see it grow so much over the past few years. I also remember being part of an important discussion on privacy in libraries and archives at Melbourne Museum and on racism in GLAM at the Immigration Museum. Of course, I also loved learning about and seeing some of the rare books in Museum Victoria library too. I also loved curator Bec Carland ‘s fascinating talk on  Blandowski, his penchant for capes, and his role in the history of museum. It kind of reminded of my emerging interest in (okay maybe slight obsession with) finding out as much I can about a few queer librarians of the past… and also in finding out about the history of MPOW’s inaugural university librarian. Two of my favourite CardiCast episodes were related to Museum Victoria too. The interview with Mike Jones made me think even more seriously than before about doing a GLAMorous PhD eventually and the interview with Ana Tiquia (who was working at Museum Victoria at the time of the interview) inspired me to start getting to know the recordkeepers and archivists at MPOW, learn more about their work and collections, and brainstorm areas for more GLAMorous collaboration.

I’ve learned so much from NewCardigan and from connecting with fellow cardies, and I know how much work goes into it, so thank you so much.

Everyone should join now. And get a t-shirt.

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Photo by Nik McGrath. T-shirts and bowties are the new cardigans!

 

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