AS A CHILD, one of my household duties was polishing the secretaire in our front room. I never minded this particular job. Cleaning the little glass panels of the bookcase suited my tiny fingers and the gilt lettering on the spines of the leather-bound books lured me to want to "learn how to read properly" so I'd be allowed to unlock the bookcase and discover its golden treasures. I soon discovered too that polishing furniture is a lot easier than my other task - one that to this day I avoid - ironing.
This attraction to books eventually extended to libraries as venues of social gathering when I realised my parents hardly raised an objection if I said, as I walked out the door, "I'm just off to the library."
I still search libraries, bookshops and thrift shops for gems. As the editor of Kasama and to further CPCA's research projects, I am a dedicated user of the public library system, so I'm concerned that Brisbane City Council's current 'operational review of facilities', which aims to increase revenue and rationalise services, will result in staff reduction and library closures - but that's another story.
In June 2004, I had the privilege of attending a two-day Multicultural Documentary Heritage Workshop in Canberra organised by the National Archives and the National Library of Australia. Forty-five representatives from culturally diverse community organisations of 29 different language/ethnic groups, from all the states and territories, took part.
We were guided through the issues involved in keeping an archival collection and the skills employed in its management and preservation. Librarians and archivists shared their knowledge of assessing significance, restoration, oral history, retrieval systems, digitisation, copyright, funding for preservation and access projects, and more. Maie Barrow from the Estonian Archives in Australia and Laura Mecca from the Italian Historical Society also shared with us their personal experiences of archiving their community's collections.
A visit to the National Archives enabled us to search the family migration and naturalisation papers database. And a tour of the National Library included its underground repository. We didn't get to see all the NLA treasures, there's only so much you can do in two days. It was an exciting experience, like being handed the key to my Dad's bookcase.
All this and a photo session, stacks of fact sheets, workshop notes, delicious catering and an evening dinner in a Turkish restaurant. There's even a project website where you can download the reference materials and manuals we were given. Just follow the links from http://www.nla.gov.au/multicultural/. Contact me if you have any problems accessing these documents.
I'd be very pleased to hear from any SPAN or CPCA members who would like to explore the possibility of working with me on archiving our collections.
Some state and territory libraries will organise similar workshops in 2005 to satisfy demand at the local level. Apparently the State Library of Western Australia has already held theirs in November. Here is the schedule:
2005 MULTICULTURAL DOCUMENTARY HERITAGE WORKSHOPS AT STATE / TERRITORY
ACT Library and Information Service
Date: April 2005 (during the ACT Heritage Week)
Contact: Ms Antoinette Buchanan, Manager ACT Heritage Library - Ph: 02 6207 7424 - Fax: 02 6207 5835
NT Library and Information Service
Date: 19 March 2005
Contact: Ms Elizabeth Roberts, Manager, Public Library Services - Ph: 08 8922 0746 - Fax: 08 8922 0722
State Library of Queensland
Date: 8 June 2005 (during the Queensland Week)
Contact: Ms Fiona Gaske, Manager Original Materials, Client Services and Collections - Ph: 07 3840 7894 - Fax: 07 3842 9126
State Library of South Australia
Date: First half of 2005
Contact: Mr Tony Leschen, Manager, Collection Development - Ph: 08 8207 7342 - Fax: 08 8207 7307
State Library of Victoria
Date: June 2005
Contact: Ms Janice van de Velde, Senior Policy & Research Officer - Ph: 03 8664 7112 - Fax: 03 9639 4737
There is also information on the NLA website about the Community Heritage Grant and the 2005 application form will be available soon. As there is additional funding over the next three years from the Department of Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs, the organisers are very keen to attract more multicultural organisations into the program. I am told you would have very good chances indeed!
Barbara Rozmus, the Manager of National Initiatives at the NLA deserves a very special mention for her superb coordination of the workshop and the ambience of hospitality and pleasure that made opening my mind to absorb new skills so very comfortable.
The first positive change as a result of attending the NLA workshop is that Kasama now has an ISSN reference which is displayed in our banner on the front page. I also hope in future to include some library information in each issue of Kasama. Are you a member of your local public library? Remember: if we don't use it, we'll lose it.
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