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									     REACHING Out

Diana Giese interviews the               they wanted more human contact            The new Public Outreach team
                                         during their time there. The National     (back row, from left) Helene Anderson,
Acting Director of Public                                                          Elizabeth Watt, Rowena Brown,
                                         Library, says Morgyn Phillips,
Outreach in the National                                                           Gillian Gregory, Judy Brooker,
                                         Director (Acting) of Public Outreach,
                                                                                   Seuth Sirimanotham, Carolyn Atkinson;
Library to introduce the                 is making plans to best present a
                                                                                   (front row, from left) Loni Cummin,
                                         warm and friendly face to its visitors.   Morgyn Phillips, Louise Blake.
exciting activities and plans              The Kenneth Baillieu Myer Visitor       (Absent: Carin Hughes, Gunther Glesti,
for Outreach programs                    Centre, with its information desk,        Tory Platt, Kylie McKinley)
                                         mini-displays from the collections,
                                         exhibition     gallery and Friends

         he Public Outreach of the       Lounge, has already made the Library      Centre over the past year on diverse
         National       Library     is   a more welcoming place. A survey of       subjects ranging from miniature books
         responsible for the Visitor     200 visitors, including focus groups,     to cookbooks from the 1950s. Popular
Centre, volunteers and volunteer         has been carried out, and the results     culture has been showcased through
guides,     events and bookings,         have informed the renewal of the          displays on pulp fiction, and fanzines
promotions such as the TDK Audio         Visitor Centre.                           including Star Trek's.
Book Awards, and initiatives such as       The Visitor Centre information            'We want to open up the Library
Link-Up 1, a moderated discussion        desk will soon be moved forward to        even more,' says Phillips. 'We want to
list on the Library's Web page.          greet people as they enter, rather than   make this an even more interesting
   A recent tourism survey of visitors   requiring     them    to cross an         place, using tour groups, events,
to Canberra found that many see the      intimidating expanse of foyer. There      displays and multimedia to show off
National Library as a big empty place:   have been successful displays in the      our facilities and resources. We want
                                                                                    when 300 people packed the theatre,
                                                                                    and raced to get in on time. The
                                                                                    subject? Rock'n' roll. A platform
                                                                                    interview between Glenn A. Baker
                                                                                    and local radio presenter David Kilby
                                                                                    discussed      the role of record
                                                                                    companies, the rise of festivals, and
                                                                                    the way Australia participated in this
                                                                                    worldwide youth revolution.
                                                                                       'The audience included lots of
                                                                                    people who hadn't been to the
                                                                                    Library before,' says Phillips, 'as well
                                                                                    as some aged 60 or more.' They
                                                                                    stayed for three hours at an event
                                                                                    planned for one hour. The session
                                                                                    tapped into the Library's music,
                                                                                    ephemera and oral history collections,
                                                                                    and used National Film and Sound
                                                                                    Archive video clips of the times.
                                                                                      A similarly populist formula was
                                                                                    used to set up a presentation on
                                                                                    cooking, at which 120 people watched
                                                                                    another local radio personality, Julie
                                                                                    Derrett, talk with Colin Bannerman
                                                                                    and Lindy Milan. 'We want to target
                                                                                    specific audiences,' says Phillips, 'those
                                                                                    with a professional or personal interest
                                                                                    in a topic, as well as those with a more
                                                                                    general interest in Australian culture-
                                                                                    families, senior citizens, people
                                                                                    interested in the University of the
                                                                                    Third Age.'
                                                                                       The     recent     conference        to
                                                                                    commemorate the 200th anniversary
                                                                                    of the publication of Malthus' An
                                                                                    Essay on the Principle of Population,
                                                                                    co-hosted by the Library and the
                                                                                    National        Academies       Forum,
                                                                                    epitomises another way of opening up
                                                                                    the Library: through collaborations.
                                                                                    A display associated with the
                                                                                    conference drew on Library holdings,
David Kilby and Glenn A. Baker at the    Ranging in age from 19 to 63, and          from first editions of the Essay to the
Popular Culture Seminar, 17 May 1998     mostly women, the 18 current               sources used to write it. It included a
From the Pictorial Collection
                                         volunteers were selected from a field      letter in Malthus' own hand, and
                                         of over 60. Enthusiasm and dedication      ephemera on China's one-child
to make this a "must-do" stop during     are more important than formal             policy. 'Groups like the Academies
people's trips to Canberra or day out    qualifications. One volunteer left         are natural partners for the Library,'
at the national institutions. Our aim    school at 15, while another has a PhD.     says Phillips. 'We provide a venue,
over the next year is to make the        Volunteers are trained for seven days      brochures in the Visitor Centre and
Library a place people will drop into    over seven weeks. They then give           other     promotion,       publication
every three or four months, physically   introductions     to their favourite       expertise, and staff resources. We can
as visitors, or online. We want people   sections of the Library, and spot talks    share expert knowledge with partner
to go away buzzing.'                     on particular sections of an exhibition.   organisations      and better build
  Using human resources to open up         Another way of bringing people           audiences drawn from both groups.'
the collections to wider audiences is    into the Library, as individuals,             The conference attracted more than
another focus. 'The Library was          families or groups, is through the         100 people, and a broad cross-section
surprised at how many people were        events program.        'Focused and        of the community.           There was
willing to participate in its work, as   targeted events work best,' says           impassioned debate on population
volunteer guides,' says Phillips.        Phillips, instancing the afternoon         issues. Feedback from evaluation
A closer look at 'Marks of Culture:
Tattooing in the Pacific', 23 August 1998
From the Pictorial Collection

A participant in debate at the Malthus
Conference, 17-18 September 1998
From the Pictorial Collection

suggested     that    the     audience
appreciated the excellence and variety
of speakers and their topics. 'I most
enjoyed the intellectual   stimulation
and gathering of thoughtful people,'
commented    one audience member.
Others responded     favourably to the
organisation,   the catering-and     the
comfort of the chairs.
   'Conferences like this also showcase
serious research resources held here,'
says Phillips. When asked what they
had learnt about the National Library
from the accompanying   display, one
visitor noted that 'the Library has
some remarkable rare materials, and
its changing  "window"  displays are
both enlightening        and engaging'.
Another had ventured further into the
working Library, to note its 'extensive
networks to other libraries'.
   Events     surrounding       Paradise
Possessed, the current major exhibition
displaying    the treasures of the Rex
N an Kivell Collection,        show yet
another     way of opening        up the
Library. Curators      and other expert
staff give free lunchtime talks and       Afternoon tea at the 'Cooking: Domestic
behind-the-scenes views of the objects    Science to Popular Culture Sunday',
on display. 'The guides are having a      5 April 1998
                                          From the Pictorial Collection
wonderful time discovering this
history and sharing it with a very
appreciative audience,' says Phillips.    Communicated, and What Would
'What they particularly enjoy is          Australia Be Like Without             an
meeting people with connections to        Awareness of its History? There will
the exhibition. They've met relatives     be discussion of oral traditions and
of Rex Nan Kivell. The great-great-       twenty-first century perspectives, and
great-nephew of Betsey Broughton          on the interplay of history and issues
was a visitor. Betsey was the child       such as women's experiences and land
survivor of a Maori massacre last         rights.'
century. She spent a year in South           Strategies for Public Outreach in
America before being returned to her      the future include developing more of
father in New South Wales.'               a presence and profile online,
   A collaboration with the University    particularly on the Internet. An
of Canberra brought people from all       online exhibition from the Rex Nan
over the Pacific to hear creative         Kivell Collection will present a
writers read from their work. In          selection of items with captions on
'Marks of Culture: Tattooing in the       the Library's Web site, linked to
Pacific', performance artist and          further information           about the
tattooist eX de Medici, who has a full    Collection. Multimedia kiosks for
traditional Samoan tattoo, talked         visitors are being revamped, to offer a
about tattooing as a cultutal activity    more interactive approach. Some of
in the Pacific, and its co-option for a   this material will be transformed into
very different purpose by Westerners.     a CD-ROM for schools.
   A major focus on history is planned       Over the past year, Public Outreach
for the second half of 1999. A series     and the Friends have worked closely
in collaboration         with    other    together to develop interesting
organisations will focus on issues of     programs that reflect the Friends' lively
history and history teaching in           interest in the collections and behind-
Australia. It will explore why fewer      the-scenes activities. During 1999,
and fewer students study it-at the        there will be collaborations on book
same time, paradoxically, as more and     launches, exhibition previews and
more adults attend events related to      celebrations of major cultural figures.
everything from family to world              'Above all, we want to invite people
history, and all varieties in between.    into the Library and show them how
 'We're planning events which could       exciting it is,' says Phillips.
include     a conference,       films,
multimedia, talks and visits,' says       DIANAGIESE is an oral historian and
 Phillips. 'Themes will include           writer who also works in museum
My Place in History, How History is       public programs

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