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Indigenous Services Unconference: Public Library Action Plans

From #Yuin country to #Wiradjuri (Bega to the Blue Mountains), NSW public library staff travelled from all over the state for the Indigenous Services Unconference on 10 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. The course was a pilot project part of the strategy for NSW public libraries Indigenous Spaces in library Places: Building a vibrant public library network inclusive of Indigenous peoples and communities.

Indigenous Services at the State Library are proud to be working with #NSWPublicLibraries to promote Indigenous collections, programs and employment. And we had a lot of fun too!

Follow the conversation at #PublicLibrariesIndigenous.

Tasha Lamb, Manager Indigenous Connections at National Film and Sound Archive of Australia Tallking

Tasha Lamb, Manager Indigenous Connections at National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Some feedback on the day:

"Spending time talking about how to make our library services more inclusive for indigenous communities is important and valuable, and something we don’t spend enough time on. Finishing the Cultural Competency Course and following up with the un-Conference was an invaluable experience and afforded me the opportunity to really reflect on what my library service was doing and how we could do things better.

Over the course of the day, we had the privilege to be in a yarn circle with Tasha Lamb, the Manager Indigenous Connections at the National Film and Sound Archive, who shared her experience working in working at AITSIC and the NFSA. The yarn circle provided a powerful experience of sharing in an equal space.

Using the world café model of participation, the un-conference enabled us to work in small groups on specific questions and topics, moving around and interacting with each other. For me, talking with other colleagues about where to place items in the collection, simple things we can do to create welcoming spaces and social media protocols and how to properly represent our online content. It was also an opportunity to listen to other peoples stories and learn from their own experiences.

By the end of the day I was able to clearly visualise what my library service could do to make ourselves more inclusive and welcoming. Something as simple as recognising the land in which my library is situated on the front door or putting the flag in a visible location is a great start. I realised that I don’t need to be in a hurry to do everything, that there are some basic, simple things to start with to reach the long term goal of inclusivity and inclusion.

The Indigenous Spaces in library Places: Building a vibrant public library network inclusive of indigenous peoples and communities document is essential reading for all public libraries and provides a framework to assist us in developing our library services. Having the time to talk about this with the Indigenous Services Team at the SLNSW was an invaluable experience and I look forward to implementing actions in the near future."

Paula Pfoeffer, Coordinator – Library Services

Bayside Council - Rockdale

"I was eager to attend the Unconference,  so that I could build on the learning I had already achieved during the Aboriginal Cultural Competence training. 

2 women talking

From the left side: Samantha Fenton (Bega Valley Shire Library) and Paula Pfoeffer (Bayside Council - Rockdale) 

The course was fantastic but I was particularly wanting to get some practical guidance on how to develop my specific Library Action Plan. 
The unconference format was great as it created a safe and informal space for peer-to-peer learning, collaboration and creativity.World café idea was a terrific way to get people talking about the core issues in a non-threatening way.
The yarning circle discussions were also great. The whole day really helped me to build confidence in my knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and nations; and how to conduct business in a culturally competent and sensitive manner.
The experience far exceeded my expectations. I would recommend all library staff attend if they get the opportunity!"

Samantha Fenton, Bega Valley Shire Council Library