Queerying the catalogue: Control, classification, chaos, curiosity, care and communities

Last month I reflected on how my Bachelor of Arts degree has influenced my life and career in librarianship by giving me creative, critical thinking, research and communication skills and the reflections on my undergraduate degree have continued this month. Part of the reason for this is because I have been supporting gender, sexuality and diversity studies students a lot and therefore revisiting old theorists and concepts related to gender and sexuality. It is also because I have been finding solace, solidarity and comfort amongst these students, researchers, theorists and archives where fluidity and the questioning of systems, structures, boundaries and binaries is encouraged whilst continuing to struggle a bit within bureaucratic, institutional structures. This month’s GLAM blog club theme of Control has found me reflecting on the problematic histories of classification in librarianship and in psychology, particularly in relation to LGBTIQA+ communities, my complicated relationship with labels, and the power of play to help librarians become more comfortable with letting go of at least some of our control and authority, find courage in chaos, embrace fluidity, and change the system.

The first thing that came to my mind when thinking about control this month was controlled vocabularies, cataloguing and classification and our profession’s problematic history with classifying LGBTIQA+ material. (Also it’s problematic history with classifying material related to First Nations peoples, People of Colour, women, and religions other than Christianity!) I am not a cataloguer and the more technical aspects of cataloguing are beyond me. The thing I enjoyed most about the one compulsory cataloguing subject I did was discovering radical cataloguing movements to improve and change existing systems and practices and once I had come across them I found it difficult to concentrate on learning how to put inadequate, problematic systems into practice. I was initially very taken with the idea of folksonomies and thought they seemed like they could be a great alternative (at least in theory) to controlled vocabularies that would facilitate the democratisation of knowledge and enable more diverse and inclusive language to be used to describe our collections. Now that I’ve had some experience with folksonomies, I can definitely see that there is a benefit in using mor controlled vocabularies! I still think folksonomies should have a role in complementing controlled vocabularies and they can be one really valuable access point to collections but they shouldn’t replace them entirely.

The second thing that came to mind on the topic of control was the problematic history psychology has had with control and classification of LGBTIQA+ people. I increasingly became aware and critical of it whilst studying sociology and gender studies at the same time, and it was one of many things that made me realise that I didn’t want to be a psychologist. Interestingly, quite a few librarians at MPOW have similarly ‘escaped’ from psychology, one has just finished a PhD in it, and another is a psychoanalyst. I’ve also been finding solidarity on campus with student wellbeing colleagues (a mix of psychologists and social workers) in recent times around LGBTIQA+ inclusion. This has made me think about the similarities and connections between our professions beyond our problematic histories of classification systems. The crucial similarity is that we all care about people and want to help them, but help in different ways. We also tend to be curious about people and want to better understand how they think, learn and/or behave in order to help them. Research skills and asking questions are (or at least should be) crucial to our work and are a pretty strong focus of our training. I am still fairly critical about psychology for being individualistic/often seemingly ignoring the impact of systems on people, but I think psychologists and also social workers are very important allies for librarians in academic, public and school libraries, and believe that we need to collaborate much more. This has led me to read about the Whole Person Librarianship movement which seems to have started to facilitate greater collaboration between social workers and librarians in public libraries and has evolved to advocate for this in academic libraries too.

Labels can help us make sense of ourselves and the world and to find our communities and information and are therefore very important in the increasingly chaotic and uncertain times we are in. I guess they help us control the chaos, find solidarity, and navigate uncertainty to some extent. However, there are a lot of LGBTIQA+ folkx who reject labels and embrace fluid notions of gender and sexuality and every LGBTIQA+ group I have been part of  has had long and often heated discussions about labels and what to call ourselves (and I am aware of many other groups having similar discussions) and the language we use to talk about ourselves has evolved quite dramatically over time and as controlled vocabularies and classification systems are very slow and complicated to change, I can’t imagine they will ever be able to keep up. I have personally gone through moments of identifying strongly with a particular label because it has helped me connect with a community and moments of wanting to burn all the labels down because everything is fluid and labels are so complex and can be extremely problematic. As mentioned previously on this blog, I tend to use the label queer these days as it feels most fluid and I like it’s radical political and theoretical connotations.

As the histories of classification in libraries and in psychology illustrate quite vividly, labels can be incredibly harmful when assigned to marginalised groups by more privileged people. Labels and these classification systems can also perpetuate stereotypes and myths, medicalise people, and reinforce false binaries. We need to do more to help LGBTIQA+ people find information about themselves and their communities in their own words in our collections and I think adding folksonomy/tagging capabilities to catalogues is one great way to do this. Perhaps we could also host metadata parties to make it more fun to add tags and facilitate engagement with the collections and the process. We could learn from the community of Wikipedia editors and make tagging collections feel like a game too.  The We Are Here exhibition at the State Library of Victoria which invited LGBTIQA+ artists to work with and interpret the library’s collections to find and explore their queer histories is another great example. The State Library of WA exhibition In Plain Sight is another great example that involved bringing people in and encouraging them to interpret the library’s collections with a queer gaze. We need to let go of some of our ‘authority’ and become more comfortable with chaos and fluidity in order to give people opportunities to interpret and describe our collections in their own words (to give them control over how they are described), which I realise is probably very confronting for many librarians who already feel like they’ve already lost a lot of authority in changing and uncertain times. We’ve definitely made progress in democratising access to knowledge (and away from being the authoritative gatekeepers to it) and Nik illustrated some great GLAMorous examples of this in her post this month, but we still have quite a long way to go.

I enjoyed reading ‘Queering the Catalog: Queer Theory and the Politics of Correction by Emily Drabinski which applies queer theory to cataloguing and librarianship to highlight that cataloguing and classification decisions are not neutral but rather ideologically driven and advocates for public services and/or other more front-facing librarians to join cataloguers in changing these systems and structures by helping people critically engage with the histories and ideologies that have shaped them. Drabinski argues that classification structures and controlled vocabularies should be presented as contested and in flux rather than objective and stable – which is similar to how the labels LGBTIQA+ people use to describe themselves are. I’ve started to do this at least a little bit in gender, sexuality and diversity studies (GSDS) and history classes, as there are many examples of how language and labels have changed to critique, and I stress the importance of understanding context, but I definitely need to do more. I mention it and share resources about it quite a bit (possibly too much) to GSDS lecturers and tutors…and one of them mentioned that collections and classification sounded like a great essay topic some day. The examples I have shared above are more co-curricular or extra-curricular ways to engage people with the catalogue.

So how do we become more comfortable with chaos, embrace fluidity, and let go of some of our control in order to bring more people in? I keep coming back to play, which is another theme I reflected on last month. As Phillip Minchin has illustrated, play at its best is messy, fun, explorative, creative and collaborative and it can be used to foster experimentation, innovation, inclusion, courage and resilience. It blurs boundaries, can build empathy, and creates a sense of possibility and hope. LGBTIQA+ communities have a history of playing with and reappropriating language in creative ways. Many librarians also tend to enjoy playing with language, so perhaps we could start there. The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) is coming up on May 17 and was started to commemorate the day homosexuality stopped being classified as a disease, and the theme this year is ‘Alliances for Solidarity’ so I think it is the perfect opportunity to collaborate with our  psychologist, social worker, art therapist and other wellbeing professional allies and host an event and/or start a project to engage LGBTIQA+ communities with your collections and spaces.

I’m really sorry I didn’t manage to make it to any of Phillip Minchin’s GLAMer sessions over the past month. On that note, as much as I think play has a crucial place in GLAM, it probably begins at home, so I am trying to bring more play into my life outside libraries…. And part of this plan is a trip to Ireland in June to connect with the O’Hanlon clan…. although I’m certain that GLAM will be included in this trip too…

Recommended reading on play in GLAM and beyond

Phil Minchin’s work, particularly these talking points:

Talking Points: The powers of play

Dr Matt Finch’s work at Mechanical Dolphin:

https://mechanicaldolphin.com

Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart L. Brown and Christopher Vaughan

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal

I also encourage you to explore the resources in this Zotero library about Whole Person Librarianship:  https://www.zotero.org/groups/172771/mlismsw/items?

Recommended reading on queerying classification

Drabinski, E. (2013). Queering the Catalog: Queer Theory and the Politics of Correction. The Library Quarterly 83(2), 94-111. Retrieved from: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/66954

Naming the Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name: A Look at How Gays and Lesbians are Classified in the Dewey Decimal Classification http://drumm.info/naming-the-love/

A brief history of homophobia in Dewey decimal classification by Doreen Sullivan https://overland.org.au/2015/07/a-brief-history-of-homophobia-in-dewey-decimal-classification/

Adler, M.A., 2015. “Let’s Not Homosexualize the Library Stacks”: Liberating Gays in the Library Catalog. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 24(3), pp.478-507.

I thought I would conclude with this picture of me learning to walk on my own that I came across recently, as there’s something about it that I really like. I’m free of labels, looking fairly androgynous, just starting to get a sense of agency and control by walking on my own, and I’ve got a toy in my hand -reminding me of the power and possibilities of play!

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Queerying ‘Walkaway’ by Cory Doctorow and reflecting on Trans Day of Visibility, utopias, and gender euphoria

I finished reading Walkaway by Cory Doctorow at the end of 2017 and I have been reflecting on it ever since. I thought I would share some of these reflections as they relate to the GLAM Blog Club theme of happiness and also to Trans Day of Visibility. Walkaway is a utopian speculative fiction novel released in 2017. I discovered Cory Doctorow through his non-fiction work on copyright reform, online privacy and maker culture, so I have been keen to read his fiction for a while and, after listening to the cardicast in which he read an extract from it, I thought this would be a good one to start with.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the book was with all the main walkaway characters being pansexual and this being completely ‘normal’ for want of a better word. In hindsight, perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised that it was very queer given the amount of discussions I’ve had with queer friends about queer utopias or about walking away from mainstream society and starting a commune. There was also a trans character which I initially thought was great, as trans visibility in fiction is even more rare, but there was still only one trans character and I found the representation to be somewhat problematic as it seemed like her body was objectified and othered in a way that cis characters‘ bodies were not. I have read and seen representations that are much worse and while some of the characters initial responses to this trans character weren’t great, I quite liked that they mostly acknowledged this to some degree and critiqued their responses, so I guess this representation is a good start. It would be amazing to read about a utopian world where everyone is both pansexual and gender diverse and this is normal… It is a shame that even our speculative fiction struggles to think beyond binary genders or can’t seem to imagine a gender diverse future. Trans academic and activist, Riki Wilchins, has similarly commented on how sci-fi oddly adheres to strict gender norms. 

I think utopian fiction is very important in the current climate because it can help build much needed hope, and so I still recommend this book, especially after the past year in politics. It was great to see the queer utopias of my conversations at least begin to be represented in fiction. Doctorow has done some fabulous utopian worldbuilding and the book was particularly strong on philosophical, political and tech developments which appealed to my nerdy librarian side and he conveyed a pretty excellent vision and sense of hope for the future (which is perhaps not surprising given his background). I think I particularly l enjoyed the book’s critique of gamification in tech – highlighting that it tends to foster competition which can have disastrous results and advocating instead for a more collaborative culture built on trust. Although, of course, games and play can foster cooperation and collaboration too, and I am very passionate about this side of ‘gamification’. My inner librarian also loved the references Doctorow made to other books. However, I think the character development could have been stronger and this might be at least partly why I found the trans representation a bit problematic. If you’re interested in the philosophical, political and tech world aspects, I highly recommend you have a listen to the aforementioned cardicast episode.

I think the best fictional examples I have come across where gender diversity is considered normal are two Australian YA books: Welcome to Orphancorp by Marlee Jane Ward and Ida by Alison Evans. There have also been some great Australian trans memoirs released recently that I cannot recommend highly enough: Finding Nevo by Nevo Zisin, Danger Music by Eddie Ayers, and All the beginnings and Rallying by Quinn Eades.

On trans day of visibility, I acknowledge that while increased visibility in fiction and in real life can be empowering, validating & affirming, it is something that many people sadly still respond to with discrimination, prejudice and violence as we saw during the postal survey in Australia and have seen during the bathroom bill debates in the US. I understand that not all trans people feel they can celebrate and that there is still so much work to do on visibility and beyond it. I offer my love to my trans friends who are awesome and inspire me so much. I love this idea of gender euphoria (featured in the shelfie below): “the strong feeling of happiness that trans people experience when they’re treated as their true gender” (coined by tumblr user ph4u57) and I am committed to helping change the cistem so that everyone can safely experience gender euphoria.

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What is red? and other questions and reflections from an Arts degree

This semester, I have been supporting a new core second year Bachelor of Arts subject at MPOW designed to help students realise the value of the knowledge and skills they learn during an Arts degree for their future careers and lives. As I was reflecting on this subject, I was reminded vividly of a question I came across in the first year of my Arts degree: What is red? It was in a psychology lecture on perception. We were given a very technical, scientific answer about wavelengths that I only vaguely remember but what I remember most vividly is regularly being encouraged to creatively and playfully question this answer. Is my red the same as your red? Apparently my mind goes to politics when I think of red. Is red the ALP? The republican party? The communist party? We had a great assignment for the subject which required us to attend an art exhibition and watch a sunrise or sunset and reflect on our perception of them in both a scientific or technical and creative way and I’ve just remembered I ended up submitting a poem as part of it.

Looking back, the question ‘what is red’ and that first year subject set the scene for the key skills I learned during my degree that have been crucial for my working life and career. They are skills I only really realised I had and started to value after I had graduated and been working for a few years, after some obligatory post arts degree overseas travel/soul searching, and after I had commenced studies in Information Management, so I think it is great that there is a core subject that has been designed to help students realise this during their degree.

I studied a very eclectic mix of subjects including creative writing, cultural studies, sociology, gender studies, criminology, psychology, politics, history and philosophy of science and more which eventually led to a double major in sociology and psychology. Studying gender studies and sociology at the same time as studying psychology made me increasingly critical of psychology as it was very individualistic and often seemed to ignore or downplay structural and systemic issues, so by the end of my degree I was pretty certain that I did not want to be a psychologist, but I had no idea what I did want to do.

The skills:

Critical thinking and reflection: I was encouraged to critically think about and reflect on and constructively question traditional knowledge, systems, structures, assumptions and ways of doing things.  This is essential for these post-truth times we live in where you need to pretty much constantly critically evaluate information online: question truth claims, verify sources, break out of  filter bubbles and examine different perspectives. I now get to help people do this across a diverse range of disciplines.

Research: I ended up doing a lot of social science research methods subjects in both quantitative and qualitative methods. I was drawn to research methods subjects because they tended to give me the opportunity to propose small research projects that I could develop to find answers to all the questions I had and support my ideas and arguments with evidence. Not only that, but I also still remember discovering how great library databases were for finding research for my essays and projects. Those databases were so much better than the library discovery layer that was then known as Super Search (and that I often referred to as unSuper Search). Now I get to help people use our discovery layer as a gateway to research and then introduce them to databases to help them delve deeper into the research. This strong research foundation led very directly to my post-arts degree, pre-library work – which involved doing various research support tasks -often in libraries (including doing literature reviews and browsing microfilm).

Creative thinking and problem solving: My constant questions and love of research definitely helped me do some creative thinking and problem solving, which always led to more questions and research. In hindsight, this creative thinking was regularly reflected in the feedback I got from tutors (and also possibly in my difficulties with sticking to word limits). I think I am becoming quite well known for thinking very far outside the traditional box in MPOW and the GLAMorous world more broadly, and it can sometimes be a bit of a struggle to reign in my ideas and questions. Given how dramatically technology and the world is changing, and how much is unknown or uncertain, creative thinking and problem solving is going to become more and more valuable in future careers.

Communication and collaboration: I learned to communicate my reflections, ideas and research in diverse ways: through essays, poetry, monologues, reports, stories, group discussions and presentations. I also kind of loved group assignments because I loved helping other people research and learn and I loved learning from different people. I could quite regularly be found organising small informal study groups in the library, the park and the pub and curating relevant resources from popular culture (mostly the TV show Scrubs) to share with my peers and help us all understand what we were studying in a fun way. Now I find myself regularly curating audio-visual resources for the subjects I support in MPOW, developing a digital storytelling and scholarship guide to help students ethically communicate and share their ideas beyond traditional essays, and increasingly bringing students together and facilitating peer learning.

The knowledge and skills I learned from my Arts degree were consolidated and honed in my information management degree in which I not surprisingly connected with a lot of fellow Arts graduates who had diverse post- Arts degree lives and professional experiences. While they were quite diverse, they were generally caring and/or creative lives in some way. This Information management degree at RMIT was very cleverly designed to help us draw on our undergraduate studies, work experience and other passions and apply them to working in libraries and archives. I feel so lucky to have found a career and a professional community that not only encourages me to continuously question, research and learn, and to work towards creating more inclusive institutions and a more inclusive society, but also gives me opportunities to help other people do these things. Interestingly, there are a lot of librarians at MPOW who have similarly escaped from psychology and found librarianship as a way to help people learn and navigate systems, and to help change the systems themselves, and it’s been great being able to reflect on the journey from psychology to librarianship with them.

I cannot say I was always happy at university. I struggled with reading and anxiety in particular and also communicating my ideas throughout my undergraduate and postgraduate studies. It was only in the last semester of my Masters degree that I worked up the courage to register for equitable assessment adjustments, and I realise now that I should have done this from the beginning. Psychology in particular was extremely competitive and not good for my mental health. The first question I was asked by peers when I started university was “where did you go to school?” and when I said it was a public school in Footscray, I was often met with surprise. However, these are key reasons why I love working in a university library, particularly one within a university that has a lot of ‘non-traditional’ higher education students from diverse backgrounds. I know how hard study was for me and can be for many people, but also how amazing it can be. I love and am addicted to knowledge and learning,  and I get to help make it more fun for and accessible to everyone and foster collaboration and peer learning (rather than competition) everyday. Although I haven’t been diagnosed with dyslexia, this recent piece by Grainne Cleary in The Conversation on “My dyslexic perspective on academia – and how I found science communication” really resonated with me. Academic librarianship is my science communication. Turbitt & Duck’s recent interview with Katie Lumsden also resonated with me in a similar way.

I have recently been revisiting queer and gender studies theories (it’s like revisiting old friends) and exploring queer pedagogy to more explicitly bring them into my practice in librarianship in order to help ensure I am being inclusive. I’ve also done a little bit of informal collaboration with student wellbeing to help LGBTIQ+ students so I guess I have not really escaped psychology either. While it turns out that studying psychology wasn’t so good for my mental health, I did learn a lot about mental health. I remember one lecturer who was also a clinical psychologist saying she read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath every six months to remind herself of the lived experience of depression. Like a good young future librarian, I got my hands on the book as soon as possible after that! This Freud costume for a “Dreams and Nightmares” themed ball is further proof of my psychology student past.

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This excellent seahorse shirt selfie is a tribute to the many subjects I did during my Arts degree that encouraged me to question traditional gender roles.

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A punderful life: Reflections on wordplay in the workplace

Last year a colleague noticed I wasn’t my usual happy and optimistic self at work during a certain government postal survey period, so they anonymously put up some tearable puns around the office in an attempt to cheer me up… It cheered me up a great deal and started a pun wall in the office that still lives on today. It brought humour and light into our workplace in dark times and people from across many teams and levels have control ibuted. This is not the first workplace I have been in that has been enriched by the power of puns in dark times (that’s another story) so perhaps it is not surprising that puns were one of the first things I thought of when this month’s GLAM blog club theme of happiness was announced.

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I was keen to find out the identity of the Original Punster and so issued a puntastic challenge and invited them to meet in our campus amphitheater on Halloween, which I dubbed a ‘Spooktacular play on words’. Given how much I hate competition, challenge was probably not the right word, but still I came with a few Twix up my sleeve and a reword to give this Punster when they revealed their identity.

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When they did reveal themselves, we decided to keep their identity a secret because it had been quite amusing watching more puns spring up each day and also seeing people try to guess who started it. Interestingly, almost everyone assumed it was either me (apparently I was already a well known office pundamentalist) or a man (the dad jokes are strong). They were not correct. I went on leave shortly after our spooktacular showdown and the puns escalated while I was away…

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Someone even described it as cat-astrophic…

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It got me thinking about how I use puns almost every day in the workplace in some way. I particularly enjoy sneaking them into clarefully crafted emails and dropping a few in classes. Clareification and Fundoora are favourites that most people I work with would be aware of. My (mostly animal and plant themed) puns have also become quite notorious on our institutional Yammer network… and I’m definitely not the only one to pun on there. I would even go so far as to say the best thing about Yammer is that it provides a place for connecting with others over puns.

Puns provide a different way to connect with people and I think they kind of challenge or resist professionalism, bureaucracy and strict work/play binaries in small, quiet and mostly harmless ways. I am mindful that people for whom English is not their first language may find it difficult to understand them so I do use them clarefully and will also clareify meaning as I don’t want to exclude anyone.

I was also reminded of Stuart Brown’s book Play: how it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul which argued that the opposite of play is not work but depression, so play should be part of the workplace, and I wanted to share this quote from the book.

“In the adult world, play continues to be woven into the fabric of our culture. In a large part, play is our culture, in the form of music, drama, novels, dances, celebrations, and festivals. Play shows us our common humanity. It shows us how we can be free within societal structures that allow us to live with others. It is the genesis of innovation, and allows us to deal with an ever-changing world” – Stuart Brown

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Philip Minchin recommended Stuart Brown’s book after a workshop he facilitated at NLS7 and he has just announced that he will be running a series of GLAMer showcase sessions (excellent pun there, Philip) in Melbourne which I strongly encourage everyone to attend. I hope to make it to at least one and wish I could made it to the cooperative games one.

I often wonder what my purpose in life is… but am certain that whatever it is will involve puns and play!

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Queer eye for the librarian ally: Go from LGBTIQ+ collection development to community development and back again

Inspired by the return of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and by the State Library of Victoria ‘s We Are Here exhibition, I thought I would use this month’s GLAM blog theme ‘Watch’ to share some LGBTIQ+ digital storytelling projects from GLAM and beyond for you to watch and hopefully inspire you to take a queer look at your own institutions and think about ways you might be able to help facilitate similar projects in them. You could start by hosting a screening of one or more of the videos below to bring people in and plant a seed for further community engagement that could lead to content creation.

LGBTIQ+ communities have often been excluded or concealed from and/or misrepresented in traditional, mainstream accounts of history thanks to heteronormative and patriarchal structures – generally by a combination of community members staying hidden for their own safety and silencing or misrepresentation from outside from legal, health, cultural heritage and media institutions. The We Are Here exhibition highlighted historical LGBTIQ+ exclusion from cultural heritage collections by asking queer artists to shine a light on hidden histories and voices and (re)interpret the library’s collections augmented by ALGA’s collections with a queer gaze. I am passionate about supporting and volunteering with ALGA because we are dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating LGBTIQ+ histories and telling these stories in our communities’ own words. We help people see themselves in history where they might not have ever done so before, we help community groups and organisations learn from and celebrate their own histories, and we also work with traditional GLAMorous institutions address gaps in their collections and programs by supporting exhibitions.

 

 

I have been pretty impressed with the LGBTIQ+ collection development I’ve seen in recent times and this visibility and representation is really important but I would love to see more diverse and proactive community engagement that goes beyond collections but that also contributes to them… and I think facilitating digital storytelling and hosting or at least sharing digital stories could be one way to do this. The democratisation of publishing that the internet has enabled has increased opportunities for individuals and communities who have traditionally been marginalised in mainstream media and histories to have a voice and enabled them to become more visible. As such, it has increased opportunities for LGBTIQ+ people to see themselves, find and their connect with their communities and access support. Public, school and university libraries are already increasingly facilitating digital literacies development in their communities, so digital storytelling could be the next step on this path. In public libraries digital storytelling programs could be used to help local history collections and communities become more diverse and inclusive, and in school and university libraries they could be used to help students with digital storytelling assignments which are increasingly required across diverse subject areas, and which many students find quite difficult. It could also be used to help engage students and researchers with university special collections, records and archives… and perhaps even help build employability skills – which seems to be the latest thing in higher education.

Below are some examples of LGBTIQ+ digital storytelling and/or other digital history-related projects I have come across in GLAM and beyond.

WESTANDPROUD

WESTANDPROUD was a digital storytelling project facilitated by RMIT University social work students doing their industry placement at Hobsons Bay Libraries. It was designed and produced in consultation and collaboration with the Hobsons Bay GLBTIQ advisory committee and the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives to capture LGBTIQ history and promote and celebrate pride, visibility, diversity and community in Melbourne’s western suburbs. The project engaged a professional filmmaker who produced extremely high quality stories. However, it required advanced professional and technical skills, and has thus far allowed only limited opportunities for interactivity and collaboration. It was limited in scope due to limited time and financial resources, but there was strong local council and community interest and support for it to continue and expand, and embracing collaborative digital storytelling and publishing has potential to help it do so.

You can view the trailer for the project here: https://youtu.be/JwR0eDvbDyM

Hunter Rainbow History Group (Living Histories at the University of Newcastle)

This collection is part of the Living Histories at the University of Newcastle project and has been developed through close collaboration with the Hunter Rainbow History Group which was formed to record and collect the stories and experiences of LGBTIQ people in the Hunter region in NSW. It looks like a fabulous example of engagement between a university and its community to preserve and illuminate the hidden histories of this community. It has inspired me to explore opportunities in MPOW.

View the collection:

http://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/nodes/view/59991

Daylesford Stories

Daylesford Stories was produced with funding from Culture Victoria and contributors from ALGA, Way Back When Consulting Historians, Tiny Empire Collective, and the State Library of Victoria.

It explores ideas of community, identity and belonging through focussing on individual experiences of Daylesford and surrounds to understand and tell a story of how and why this region has become a place of meaning and significance LGBTIQ communities.
It uses a combination of short films, individual profiles and archival image galleries, we start to explore how identity shapes us and how support and understanding can build community. The creators stress that this is just one part of Daylesford’s rich LGBTIQ+ history and indicate that they are keen to talk to more people and gather gather more stories in order to understand more prespectives. Daylesford Stories is just the gaytway! Perhaps digital storytelling workshops in the local library could help build on it!

View the project:

https://cv.vic.gov.au/stories/a-diverse-state/daylesford-stories/

Out of the Closets, Into the Streets

Another Culture Victoria funded project – this time with contributors from ALGA, Wind & Sky Productions, and the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive and based in Melbourne. This story draws on material produced for ALGA’s exhibition Out of the Closets, Into the Streets: Histories of Melbourne Gay Liberation, curated and written by Nick Henderson, which drew on research by Graham Willett. Wind & Sky Productions prepared a complementary documentary film, additional interviews, and written curatorial and audio content was produced by documentary film makers. A shout out to Yarra Libraries for already hosting a screening of the film with an excellent panel discussion afterwards.

View the project:

https://cv.vic.gov.au/stories/a-diverse-state/out-of-the-closets-into-the-streets/

Queering the Museum: Queer Digital Storytelling

I don’t know much about this but I’ve been discovering the wonderful world of queering the museum lately and look forward to delving into this more. It looks like these Digital storytelling workshops were hosted as part of the Revealing Queer exhibit at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). You can find out more about the workshops and view three finished digital stories here:
Queer Digital Stories: Looking Back

For queer museum adventures that are closer to home, keep your eye on Nikki Sullivan and Craig Middleton’s work in South Australia.

Queer love project

http://www.queerloveproject.com

This project was created in response to a certain postal survey as an antidote to the awful public discussions in about LGBTIQA+ lives, identities, bodies, and relationships. It was initiated by Twenty10 incorporating GLCS NSW. They captured and shared real life diverse stories of our communities and love in all its forms: stories of queer love, families, support structures, friends, parents and marriage to counteract the hate and show young people that they and their families are real and valid (and awesome). They brought hope, safety, support and comfort into an online environment (social media) that was pretty toxic. I would have loved to see libraries co-facilitate something like this during the postal survey period that will not be named.

Rainbow Family Tree

“A haven for Queer Digital Storytellers and their friends and families… view, create, share… and do your bit to ‘change the world’”

http://rainbowfamilytree.com/main

The Rainbow Family Tree digital storytelling project established it’s own platform rather which has provided opportunities for private and public connection and collaboration and also enables the possibility of greater anonymity as it lets participants choose how they want to distribute it. Many participants not surprisingly felt more comfortable sharing their stories via the Rainbow Family Tree platform created specifically for the project than on third party platforms such as Facebook or YouTube, as they trusted the supportive community of like-minded strangers more than these third party platforms.

Stories beyond gender

https://www.storiesbeyondgender.com/about-us.html

“Through sharing personal stories across social networks – both face-to-face and online – trans and gender-questioning storytellers and our allies are exploring what it means to ‘see and share ourselves’, to feel ‘understood and at home’, and to experience ‘wellbeing’. We speak and listen across differences, both within and outside our community. We hope to change the world by challenging binary gender stereotypes. We are also lobbying for better health provision, education and social understanding.”

This project has been funded by a grant from ‘Community Benefits SA’  and has offered a number of things which are things that libraries are starting to do already (albeit not really often specifically for LGBTIQ+ communities):
• face-to-face creative social media storytelling workshops
• access to one of 3 digital devices for experimentation
• outreach workshops facilitated in regional SA
•trans-world café community events
• an exhibition and launch of creative digital content
• prizes for valued participation, awarded at end of the project

Son Vivienne is a key human and researcher behind the Rainbow Family Tree and Stories Beyond Gender projects and I highly recommend you check out their research and writing on digital storytelling, community facilitation, queer identity and online activism at http://www.incitestories.com.au.

Six C’s for facilitating community content creation

Some lessons I have learned from investigating these projects and doing research on digital storytelling:

  • Combine professionally created content with community created content –  You’ll probably need to start the project with some professionally created content, but too much of this can be intimidating and prevent users from contributing. Make sure the library doesn’t dominate the space.
  • Collaborate with creative professionals and community groups – partnerships with creative professionals and relevant community groups can provide volunteers and expert facilitators in exchange for promotion, space and equipment. This could also help reduce costs and facilitate community engagement.
  • Create opportunities for providing feedback on, and re-purposing, sharing and promoting co-created content.  This will help facilitate a sense of community and belonging, give participants ownership of the project and make it easier for the library to step back from content creating.
    -One simple way you can do this is by enabling links to social media.
    -Alternatively, you may want to create your own site to host your community and mirror the experience of social media to protect participants’ anonymity and privacy and make them more comfortable.
    -Don’t forget to promote digital content in the physical library and community environment as well
  • Creative Commons protects intellectual property and encourage collaboration – choose a license that encourages sharing and reuse with attribution to help build a sense of community by encouraging the sharing of content.
  • Consider using open source software – unlike third party proprietary software and platforms, it is inherently collaborative and inclusive and accessible across multiple platforms, it better protects members privacy, and it gives you more power to refine or change something that may not be working for your community.
  • Coffee is the most important C of community content creation because it can help you build connections with creative professionals and community members

Further reading and resources

Kete: Open Source Software for Community Digital LIbraries  by Jo Ransom (2011) http://old.kete.net.nz/site/topics/show/329-kete-open-source-software-for-community-digital-libraries

Vivienne, Sonja & Burgess, Jean (2012) The digital storyteller’s stage: queer everyday activists negotiating privacy and publicness. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 56(3), pp. 362-377. https://eprints.qut.edu.au/53589/

All of Son Vivienne’s (as mentioned) work at www.incitestories.com.au.

There is a lot more out there than the above and I will update the list eventually.

I have been to a number of LGBTIQ+ events recently where young people have been saying they want more opportunities to connect with their LGBTIQ+ community ‘elders’ and public libraries in particular but perhaps GLAM in general are the perfect places to be facilitating intergenerational collaboration and connection given that we work with communities from very diverse age ranges.

I hope these examples have demonstrated how digital storytelling can bring people together and build understanding, empathy, hope and resilience…. and given you some ideas about how libraries and GLAM institutions can help facilitate this.

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Queerying librarianship, life, the universe and everything

The first thing that struck me when re-reading my first GLAM blog club post from this time last year on finding pride in librarianship was how hopeful I seemed about the year ahead. I reflected on how terrible it was to be LGBTIQA+ in 2016, but 2017 also turned out to be pretty terrible and I can’t say I am feeling particularly optmistic about 2018. Sure we got Marriage equality (finally!) but it was only after horrible, divisive postal survey.

There was an incredible show of support from a lot of librarians on Twitter, especially among those who are new to the profession, and from NewCardigan (thank you!), but our old professional association apparently listened to faith-based institutional members over their Next Generation Advisory Committee and many of their own individual members, and failed to consult with their own LGBTIQ+ special interest group. It took a lot of pressure for them to come out and at least sort of take a stand in support of marriage equality – I am glad that at least some individual leaders in the organisation claimed to be personally be supportive.

My membership was due to expire around this time and I agonised abiut whether to renew it or not. I eventually decided to do so about a day before it expired. Mostly because I thought I was too new to be this cynical and disillusioned and I was inspired by the Next Generation Committee to try to help them (and others) do more to create change from within.

In 2017 I learned that many people in this profession are very risk averse and believe that we have to be neutral. They don’t seem to understand that there is a difference between equality and equity and that we have never been neutral and should never be because this idea of neutrality leads to silence which helps perpetuate the status quo and thus current privilege, oppression and discrimination in our society. I have been able to help make some small positive changes and start some good conversations but have learned that change is very slow. While I find it hard to imagine myself as remotely scary, I have learned that my questioning (or queerying) of traditional boundaries, binaries, and ways of doing things is probably pretty scary to people who are risk averse or otherwise afraid change. I don’t think I will be able to stop questioning  everything, so I am not quite sure what to do about this realisation, but it helps to understand where other people are coming from… and I hope they know that I question myself too.

So at the start of 2018 I have found myself pretty much constantly queerying librarianship, life, the universe and everything, and it is perhaps not entirely surprising that I cannot get the idea of doing a PhD out of my head (the recent cardicast with Mike Jones has also kept it firmly in my head). I have worked very closely with academics for most of my professional life and I know that doing a PhD will be huge, rocky and precarious journey, and it is one that I do not think I am quite ready to undertake yet. There are at least 42 things I want to do and learn before I embark on it, and I plan to work on them this year, but I will spare you that full list (for now). I will say that it includes making a bit more time for travel, friends, family and myself.

When preparing this post, I noticed some parallels to Jarrett M Drake’s much more eloquent post on leaving the archival profession and beginning a PhD related to the archival field in 2017 (although I am at an earlier stage in my career and thinking), and I thought I would share some quotes from this which particularly resonated with me:

“Professionalism emphasizes “the work” — its completion, its evaluation, its perpetuity, etc. — without a meaningful critique of how “the work” mandates a replication of the patriarchy, oppression, and violence many in our world experience….

…So I am trading in my job security, healthcare, retirement plans, paid conference travel, and the like for a much more precarious path but potentially a soul-filling one. I am not leaving the archival profession because I no longer care about archives. In fact, the opposite is true: it’s because I care about archives and their full capacity that I am departing the profession. The archival profession =/= the archival field. I will remain in the latter, committed to understanding the transformative potential of independent, grassroots archival projects.”

I am not ready to leave the profession yet though as I’m still finding some pride in it as recently as last Sunday:

Thank you so much to all the wonderful GLAMorous folk who marched with us and to those who were with us in spirit but thwarted by aeroplane delays and/or the heat.

Similarly to Jarrett Drake, even if (or when?) I do embark on the precarious PhD journey, it will definitely still be connected to the field, which I agree is not the same as the profession, so I don’t think I will ever truely leave because I care about libraries and archives in their full capacity too. Research seems like the only long term way I can think of to keep queerying and changing the system.

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In the meantime, I’ll continue co-creating and curating the revolution in a queer time and place.

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Queer collaborations and a GLAMorous Guide to Midsumma 2018

Inspired by the GLAM blog club theme of collaboration this month, I thought I would highlight some recent and upcoming queer collaborations in galleries, libraries, archives and museums and, in doing so, prepare a GLAMorous guide to Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival in 2018. I love that these collaborations are blurring the lines between GLAMs (with galleries in libraries, archives in galleries – and in library galleries- , museums in galleries, and more) whilst often blurring the digital/physical environment binary as well as gender binaries. These GLAM institutions are providing a platform for some of the most marginisalised voices within LGBTIQA+ communities (including First Nations Peoples, People of Colour, trans and gender diverse people, and veterans), bringing academic research to the broader community, creating space to talk about mental health issues and experiences, providing opportunities for intergenerational conversations, and/or using digital technology to connect people with each other and their physical environments in creative ways.

I note with interest that many of the venues have hosted cardi parties: ACMI, Gasworks Arts Park, Melbourne Library Service, State Library of Victoria, Bargoonga Nganjin library… coincidence? Quite possibly, but I like to think it’s a sign that NewCardigan have been planting seeds for queer (and other excellent and progressive) collaborations.

I realise it probably would have helped to arrange this as a chronological timeline or perhaps by particular locations, but I’ve been reading about queer time and space, so this is the (dis)order it will stay in.

Black Magic: First Nations dialogues on sexuality

Incinerator Gallery in association with Midsumma Festival

20 January – 18 February

I am particularly proud of this one as it’s in Rainbow Valley, so I have had a small part in making it happen. The Incinerator Gallery have been amazing over the past few years, and this was recognised by Midsumma approaching them to co-host this event with them.

Black Magic features works by queer, trans, gender diverse and sistergirl/brotherboy Indigenous artists, Peter Waples-Crowe, Dianne Jones, Kent Monkman, Todd Fernando, Neika Lehman, and Jeremy Anderson. They explore themes of shame and sex, morality and eroticism, the history of Christianisation, and embodied sovereignty.

Also see First Nations Pride, an event associated with this exhibition which further unpacks the effects of colonisation on Indigenous bodies.

If any colleagues I know from Rainbow Valley Libraries want ideas for a complementary book display at their branches, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Shifting Elements and Camp Dogs: Kamahi Djordon King

Wyndham Art Gallery

18 January- 18 March

GOWEST is featuring another First Nations artist, Kamahi Djordon King, on the other side of Melbourne’s west – Werribee. It looks like it will be multimedia works which I think may be of particular interest to techy GLAMorous folk and will prominently feature a dog which may appeal to the rare non-cat loving kind of librarian. It’s also open for longer than the standard Midsumma period which is great because it means you won’t have to rush to see it and everything else, and also it’s always great to see organisations (and somewhat rare) supporting LGBTIQA+ communities beyond Midsumma.

Blak-Queer Futurism: Indigenous and QTIPOC contributions in popular media

Blak Dot Gallery

18 January- 4 February

‘Blak-Queer Futurism’ looks at utopian and dystopian futures and draws upon the resilience, knowledge and spirituality of indigenous people here and overseas. Artists will imagine a future where they are the revolutionaries, the trailblazers, and the change-makers of now and tomorrow. This is the kind of thing I would love to see museums and libraries doing and it actually reminds me a little of the Transpossible exhibition at Library at the Dock earlier this year.

Beyond the binary: Art history and digital art collide with artist J.Rosenbaum

Gasworks arts park

17 January- 4 February

An art exhibition that goes beyond gallery/museum binaries, digital/physical world binaries and gender binaries is very relevant to my interests. It’s inspired by classical art and ancient archaeological artefacts and uses printed and sculptural augmented reality works.

Serving in Silence? Over 75 years of LGBTI military service in Australia

Presented by Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives and City of Melbourne Library Service

11 January – 3 February
Launch: 17 January, 6-7.45pm

This exhibition has drawn on a large research project on Australian LGBTI military history which makes me excited because you might have gathered I am pretty passionate about helping researchers do community engagement beyond academia… It will commemorate 25 years since the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual people serving in the Australian Defence Force was lifted. Transgender service was banned until 2010 (!). It focusses on LGBTI military service since World War II.

WE ARE HERE: Contemporary artists explore their queer cultural heritage

Presented by Midsumma Festival and State Library Victoria in association with the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

19 January- 1 April
Launch: Thursday 18 Jan, 6-8pm

WE ARE HERE will feature new works by five contemporary visual artists (Susan Maco Forrester, Peter Waples-Crowe, Briony Galligan, Peter Lambropoulos and Archie Barry) whose works draw on archival material from the State Library Victoria and the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives. It is curated by Angela Bailey and will bring to life actual and imagined queer histories of the archives.

Midsumma Horizon: Evoking queer history at the most contemporary of art parties

State Library of Victoria

2 February, 9pm-2am

The last time I went to a queer dance party it was one hosted by the State Library of Victoria and it looks like I will be going to another one because I can never resist the opportunity to dress up as a queer figure from history! It’s not just about the costumes though. This event looks like it will be pretty amazing and quite close to my vision for a GLAMorous homotopia.

The Famous ALGA Queer History Walk: 40th Anniversary

21 January, 11am

From the State Library of Victoria to the City library.

In 2018 the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives turns forty and to celebrate four decades of collecting, preserving and celebrating Australian LGBTQIA+ histories, we are inviting you to come and join us in a special edition of our famous queer history walk. Join us as we make our way around Melbourne to explore stories from our very queer past. Same-sex marriage in the church – in the nineteenth century! Camp cafes from the early twentieth century! Gay Lib demos in the 1970s! Come along for a tour of the CBD as we get queer history out of the archives and into the streets. It’s starting at the State Library of Victoria and finishing at the City library, and I am involved, so you know there’s going to be some queer library history in there!

The Art of Gemma Flack: An exhibition and zine-making workshop by Melbourne illustrator Gemma Flack

Presented by Yarra City Council at Bargoonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library

Check out Gemma Flack’s witty illustrations that explore themes of identity, vulnerability, feminism, self-discovery, and coming to terms with the whole concept of existing as a human. The exhibition is up now (I’ve already been) and on Thursday 1 February, 6-8pm at Bargoonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library there will be a free zine making workshops.

 

In Conversation with Jason Ball

Out in Frankston

Presented by Frankston City Council at Frankston Library
5 February, 6pm

It’s great to see a Midsumma event as far away from inner city Melbourne as Frankston! Given Jason Ball’s experience combating homophobia in sport and highlighting the damaging impact of discrimination on the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBTQIA+ communities, I’m sure this will be a very important conversation.

Generations of Queer

Library at the Dock

Presented by queerspace

3 February, 3.30pm

A conversation about what cross-generational dialogue does, and what it could do better.

Panelists include:
Joan Nestle, born in the Bronx 77 years ago, feminist and still using all the resistance knowledge that came from the social activism of the 1960s
Marie August, who came of age as a trans person in the mid-1980s and has traversed a myriad of different spaces in their life
Fury, poet, writer and queer activist.

A great example of simple library collaboration with a highly regarded LGBTIQA+ community health service – where the library is simply the venue for this conversation that will be led by the community. Public libraries are the perfect place for facilitating intergenerational collaboration and conversations because they work with and support people across their lifespan.

Pride Power: Queer leadership from the ancient world to today

Presented by Dr Matthew Laing from Monash University

Library at the Dock

21 January, 1.30pm

Another library event that will bring academic research into the community! This one very much appeals to my history and gender, sexuality and diversity studies librarian and activist archivist side (although honestly all of these events do).

Melbourne Library Service will also host a Queer Reads session at the city library on January 16 and a Queer Reading Circle at the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre on January 30.

Multicultural Queer Australia: A discussion on Multicultural Queer Australia: Then, Now, Future

Presented by Yarra Libraries

22 January, 7-8pm
Fitzroy Town Hall ballroom
This event is inspired by a new book (yay!) ‘Multicultural Queer Australia: Then, Now, Future’ with contributors such as Faustina Agolley, Tony Ayres, Paul Capsis, Anton Enus, Sally Goldner, Jeremy Law, Alyena Mohummadally, Christos Tsiolkas, Mama Alto, Ayman Barbaresco, Tony Briffa, Lian Low, Omar Sakr and Nevo Zisin. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know how much I loved Nevo Zisin’s recent memoir, so I’m very much looking forward to this. The book and discussion will acknowledge and celebrate the lives and insights of culturally, ethnically and religiously diverse LGBTQIA+ Australians.

Everyone has a story 

Presented by Hobsons Bay Libraries

19 January, 6.30pm

Since many GLAMorous folk ‘secretly’ want to be writers, I think a few people will be interested in this panel discussion, exploring and celebrating queer culture, experience and identity. There will also be book sales and signings as well as a collection of recommended LGBTQIA+ reads from the library. It will be a great opportunity to check out the relatively new Newport library and community hub space if you haven’t already done so.

There are some other great events (including Rainbow Storytime) there on the same night as part of the Twilight Celebrations: https://midsumma.org.au/program/twilit18

A red wine cheers to the intimacies of industry

Living Museum of the West
Pipemakers Park, Van Ness Avenue, Maribyrnong
27 Jan – 11 Feb
Opening 27 January 3 – 5pm | Exhibition Sat – Sun midday – 5pm

I am pretty excited about this as it is in the closest museum to where I grew up and I have fond childhood memories of exploring the space. It is going to be interesting to queer those memories. During ALGA’s 2017 history walk, I learnt about the queer history of another favourite childhood space- the fairy tree in Fitzroy Gardens – so I guess this is becoming an annual Midsumma experience for me.

Alisha Abate will translate and situate experiences of the body into architectural spaces in order to consider how the body is both used to inform architecture and design and how it can also shape the way a space is used. Her work will evoke the personal, emotional experiences of the individuals who worked in the various industries in Melbourne’s West, particularly those documented at the Living Museum of the West.

QueerTech.io = ART(URL, IRL)

Presented by Midsumma Festival and QueerTech.io, in association with ACMI and RMIT:ART:INTERSECT

This will bring artists from around the world to together digitally, physically and queerly to contribute internet artworks, projects and provocations to the ongoing #queertech conversation.

Online from 12 Jan: http://QueerTech.io
Exhibition: Testing Grounds, 1 City Rd, Southbank
16 – 23 Jan | Wed – Sat 10am – 6pm
Exhibition: RMIT Spare Room, Bld 94 Lv 2 Rm 2, 23-27 Cardigan St, Carlton
31 Jan – 22 Mar | Wed & Fri 10am – 5pm | Thu 10am – 8pm | Sat midday – 4pm
Exhibition: RMIT Lightscapes, Bld 2, Lightwell, Bowen St, Melbourne
31 Jan – 22 Mar | Mon – Fri 9am – 6pm
Screening: ACMI, Federation Square – Fri 2 Feb 6.30pm

There are some other queer history, art, and storytelling events that are a little less GLAMorous which I haven’t included (it’s already a very long list) but I hope to make it to them too. Check out Hares and Hyenas, the Arts Centre and the Abbostford Convent in particular. I also realise I have missed a few gallery events but I have hopefully captured the ones that intersect most with the LAM in GLAM.

GLAM Pride Victoria at Pride March

Inspired by all of the above and participating in the GLAM pride SA contingent at Adelaide Pride March, I contacted some GLAMorous friends and we decided to seize the day and register a GLAM Pride Victoria contingent for Melbourne’s Pride March. Please join us or get in touch if you want to find out more.

In the spirit of queer collaborations, I am keen to crowdsource some Australian LGBTIQA+ reading recommendations to hand out on the day, so please recommend via email glampridevic@gmail.com or on Twitter (@clareifications, #GLAMpridereads). They can be young adult fiction, literary fiction, poetry, autobiographies, histories, zines, comics etc.

We also hope to collaborate with librarians for refugees (so much collaboration) and have a no pride in detention theme for our contingent in solidarity with refugees on Manus and Nauru.

RSVP on Facebook, via Twitter (@clareifications or @maudeygirl) or email (glampridevic@gmail.com) so you can stay up to date with logistical developments.

Reflections on GLAMorous queer collaborations

I have realised that working with ALGA has given me a more holistic understanding of the GLAM sector – beyond my current role. We have books, archival material, art and objects and support quite a lot of exhibitions so our collection and work is very GLAMorous. We have had to grapple with cataloguing, digitisation, preservation and conservation challenges and opportunities, which are not things I work directly with much at all in my client-facing academic librarian day job and they are not in my position description, but they do have quite a large impact on my role – particularly as I support history students and academics and help them discover, research and learn with gallery, library, archival and museum collections. It has very much informed my work and influenced the classes I deliver and resources I create for history students and beyond. It has also given me invaluable community engagement and project management experience. Whilst imposter syndrome (I think) makes me feel like I haven’t been able to contribute as much as I would like, I have been doing a lot of reading and listening (the first step to successful collaboration) and I am slowly building confidence and contributing more.

On a related note, cardi parties and GLAM blog club have been invaluable as a gateway to extending my knowledge of these challenges and opportunities and building my confidence to contribute. I found the cardi parties at PBS community radio station and the Royal Historical Society of Victoria particularly helpful for ALGA… In fact, they made me want to start a community of practice for primarily volunteer-run community archives because it does seem like we have quite a lot of common challenges and strengths and it makes sense to share our knowledge and experiences. If there already something like this, please let me know abiut it. If there isn’t one and you’re interested in being part of one, please get in touch. Alissa’s post on how to catalogue a beer can also came in handy recently.

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ALGA has also helped connect me to my workplace and have a more holistic understanding of the university beyond the library. In particular, it has led to collaboration with academics and with student wellbeing staff. It has been pretty exciting to note that a few undergraduate and honours students from there have visited ALGA to do research for their assignments. I have also loved seeing a number honours and PhD students as well as researchers present at the last two Australian Homosexual Histories conferences (supported by ALGA). Admittedly I have not done as much collaboration as I would like, particularly with student wellbeing, for a number of reasons, but the need to start small is another important lesson I have learned about collaboration, so I’ll try to keep my grand plans in the closet for now. I’m sure you will hear more soon enough.

It is going to be an inspiring start to the year and will most likely be tiring for this introverted librarian, so I’m going to head back to the books now.

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