The Indigenous Services team was fortunate to be invited to the SWITCH Conference 2017 held at the Event Centre Panthers in Penrith (NSW), an annual gathering for public libraries across NSW organised by the Public Libraries Association (PLA). It was a great opportunity to connect with staff of NSW public libraries, to provide an update on the work that the team has been doing over the last 12 months and to launch the Indigenous Spaces in Library Places online toolkit. The toolkit contains helpful tips, guidelines and templates that can be downloaded from the Library's website.
In 2016, in partnership with the Public Library Services at the Library, we launched the strategy Indigenous Spaces In Library Places: Building a Vibrant Public Library Network Inclusive of Indigenous Peoples and Communities which has been developed to provide guidance to the public library network, as a part of our ongoing commitment to enhancing services dedicated to the local Indigenous population.
As part of this commitment, NSW public library staff travelled from all over the state for the Indigenous Services Unconference in February. These passionate library champions took part in a world cafe style program helping them to gain skills and confidence in providing library services to Indigenous communities. The Unconference was an opportunity to gather with some of the 40 NSW public library professionals who undertook an Aboriginal cultural competence training from Cultural Competence Australia and that the Library is piloting.
This year public libraries have played an active role in our programming initiatives. We developed the Indigenous Family History training program Connecting Culture. Tracing Ancestors to assist both community members as well as public library staff to get started in researching Indigenous family history. It proved to be a popular program and we have been fortunate to have visited many public libraries across the state to deliver the training this year.
In addition, we have also been supporting public libraries both in metropolitan and regional areas to assist them with the implementation of the Strategy Objectives, with the aim of enhancing services and collections for their local Indigenous community.
For NAIDOC Week we held a transcribe-a-thon with staff in public libraries across New South Wales, from Wiradjuri country to Dharug. Together we transcribed a series of handwritten language lists into typed transcripts so they can be easily read and searched for words. We were joined by staff from 8 public libraries who showed real enthusiasm in working with Indigenous content and collections, and some libraries have even made plans to run the same program at a local level.
The online toolkit is available on the Library's website and is a great place to find resources and ideas to create welcoming spaces in public libraries and to connect staff with Indigenous communities in their local area.
We welcome feedback from the public library network and look forward to sharing stories through our blog.