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Indigenous Services Unconference 2018

Two women sitting at a table looking in the same direction

Left to right: Vicki O'Rourke, Wollongong City Libraries and Helen McDonald, Sutherland Shire Libraries

From the lands of the Wonnarua people in the north to the Yuin nation in the south Indigenous Services at the State Library welcomed public library staff from across New South Wales to participate in Unconference: Public Libraries Action Plans. 14 public library staff joined us for a day of planning in which we talked about how to improve outreach to Indigenous communities and how to make libraries more welcoming places for Indigenous people. 

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.

The Unconference was an opportunity to gather with some of the 45 NSW public library professionals who undertook an Aboriginal cultural competence training from Centre for Cultural Competence Australia

Participants in the Unconference started the day by talking about what they hoped to achieve and what they were expecting to learn at the Unconference. The group then came together for a yarning circle to share their thoughts. They were joined by Nathan Sentance, Project Officer, First Nations Programming at the Australian Museum. 

Woman sitting down holding brochure

Veronica Murphy - Senior Advisor, Aboriginal Workforce Development, Public Service Commission

Nathan spoke with the group about his experiences as a young Wiradjuri man, interested in archives and working in the GLAM sector. The yarning circle allowed participants to chat with Nathan, ask him questions and listen to his experiences in a more informal environment. 

The participants then took part in a ‘World Café’ style workshop where activities ranged from collaborating on ideas of how to engage with their local communities, to choosing titles of books to include in a labelled Indigenous collection for a public library. The ‘World Café’ style workshop was designed to give participants hands-on experience and to allow them to brainstorm in smaller groups. Staff from public libraries enjoyed this opportunity to network with each other and to work together to think about improving outreach strategies.

One of the highlights of the day was being  joined by Veronica Murphy, Senior Advisor, Aboriginal Workforce Development at the Public Service Commission. It sparked an interesting discussion about Indigenous employment and opportunities to increase diversity and representation of Indigenous people in libraries. 

Indigenous Services would like to thank all the public library staff who joined us and took part in this Unconference. We enjoyed connecting with public libraries and look forward to hearing the success of their journeys in this space and sharing their stories through our blog.  

Find out more in our Indigenous Spaces in Library Places online toolkit