GLAM Blog Club December – Lessen

And so this cursed year draws to a close, not with a bang but with a GLAM Blog Club theme. We drew December’s theme out of a random word generator so we’ll end the year on the theme Lessen. With two “e”s. Have you lessened your travel time this year with positive results? Has lessened social interaction been a boon or a tragedy? Have you done more with less, less with less, or less with more? Make of the topic what you will.

Remember to tag your blog post GLAM Blog Club and use the hashtag #GLAMBlogClub on social media. Registering on the Aus GLAM Blogs site makes it easier for everyone to find your blog!

In case you need inspiration, here’s some blog posts our community posted in November:

On the theme of Invalid

ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group offered 3 invalid excuses for not helping to save the world…

Transgressive Archivist told us Your Data Is Invalid: Collecting Data On Sex, Gender, And Sexuality

I pontificated about Empathy Daleks

Alissa reflected On Agency.

Freestyle posts

Ellen reviewed How to create a relevant public space by Aat Vos

Mal has been digitising magazines and newsletters from the Tattersall’s Club and is sharing what he’s found.

Inger shouted about WhisperFest.

Rebecca went to Sculpture by the River.

Transgressive Archivist’s guest blogger asked us not to judge a homeless book by its cover.

Lynda has been analysing AMaGA’s research on how COVID has affected the GLAM sector – she’s done so much there is both Part 1 and Part 2!

Snail likes to buy first editions on spec.I guess there are worse things to do with your disposable income.

We can’t wait to see what you write this month!


GLAM Blog Club November – Invalid

Our Blog Club topic for October may have been failure, but the cardi community didn’t fail to share some great blog posts.

Matt Finch appears to be on some kind of Kerouac-style writing bender, publishing a post nearly every day on an assortment of topics. Nicole started off the month with some great info about what to look out for if you want to wear your vintage 1920s fashion without a wardrobe malfunction. Edward Shaddow requested that we don’t make him tap the sign that says “Do no harm”, but I guess some institutions weren’t listening. Ellen encouraged us to be open about failure, whilst Avril gave us some tips on avoiding it. The Transgressive Archivist reflected on his own failures, and also reflected on reflecting on failure which was nice and meta. Jane shared some ideas about loneliness and libraries, Matthew shared his thoughts about the value of the global digital preservation community, and we learned all about Boyle Abbey from Ellen. Inger hates to fail, and wrote about how failure-avoidance can lead to imposter syndrome and burnout. Lynda shared a delightful story about her personal connection to PIPS potato chips and an oversized mechanical elephant. And in the middle of all of this, I shared some thoughts on what appears to be a complete failure of peer review at ITAL.

So what’s the theme for November, I hear you ask. This month we’ve got a topic you can read at least a couple of different ways: Invalid, You can write about being invalidated, being invalided, or neither of those at all. The theme, after all, is just to help get you started if you’re stuck for a topic – nothing you write will be invalid for inclusion in GLAM Blog Club.

Remember to tag your post GLAM Blog Club, use the hashtag #GLAMBlogClub when sharing on social media, and register your blog at glamblogs.newcardigan.org if you’ve not already done so. That’s also where you can find the latest and greatest blog posts from the Australasian GLAM community.

Now get writing!


GLAM Blog Club October: Failure

Our theme for the September GLAM Blog Club was Discovery. From what I’ve heard a lot of our Melbourne cardies were busy discovering places less than 5k from their homes (how long has that park been there?!).

Posts matching our theme were a bit light on with the Transgressive Archivist writing about Discovering Records of Same Gender Attraction.

We also have Alissa discovering how to catalogue jigsaw puzzles.

And Bonnie reflects on the GO GLAM mini conference all the way back in January.

We can stretch the theme a little and highlight some of the other great blogs from last month:

Thesis Whisperer gave us a post about ‘discovering’ research jobs during what I’m calling ‘The Year Of Hell‘.

Transgressive Archivist also gave us a post looking at Transgender knowledge and archival practice, which is well worth a read.

Bonnie looks back at the ‘before time’, and reflects on GLAMSLAM.

Sam wrote about career planning.

Nikki reflected on five years being a librarian.

If you want your historical fix, Ellen has you covered with part two of Henry the Young King, and St Govan’s Chapel.

We don’t have a guest blogger this month (if you’d like to volunteer for a future guest blog post, shoot us an email). So you can get cracking straight away on your Blog Club post for October on the theme of Failure.

Remember to tag your blog post GLAM Blog Club and use the hashtag #GLAMBlogClub on social media. Registering on the Aus GLAM Blogs site makes it easier for everyone to find your blog!


GLAM Blog Club September: Discovery

Our theme for August GLAM Blog Club was Time, and I’m pleased to see that after a few months of slim pickings, a large number of cardies decided that it was time to blog!

The Thesis Whisperer wrote about making an academic living in COVID times, but this certainly wasn’t the only post to mention “COVID Time”. Jane advised on the Zoom trance and how to beat it, Clare has used their time to find hope and trans support, solidarity and liberation in the archives, and Alissa meditated on the temporal seasickness caused by both “COVID Time” and depression. Cassandra Smith picked up on this theme as well, writing about spiral time and deep time. Natalie, meanwhile, reckons her museum was more active when “closed” for COVID than before!

There were posts that were not specifically aligned with the theme, but seemed to emerge from a sense that they were perhaps …overdue. Lynda gave us a social media history lesson. Michelle wrote about the multiple dimensions of PD. Sally implored us to stop and ask “why?”, having thought deeply about what she learned at the ALIA Sydney Critical Librarianship Saturday School in 2018 and through other #critlib resources. Snail wrote about …shelf arrangment ?‍♂️.

Matt looked forwards in time, asking “Who are the Isley Brothers of Foresight?” A question I’m sure you regularly ask yourself – but have you ever tried to answer it by thinking about bath toys sailing the world’s oceans? Meanwhile, others were looking back. Nicole invited us to join her talk about Australian fashion designers from the 1960s to 1980s. Due to some temporal embarrassment, we’re unfortunately too late now to let you know about this talk, but you can check out a photo of a gorgeous 1970s wedding dress she posted with it. Andrew was also looking backwards, though in his case only a year …or is it 10 years? Nobody seems quite sure at the moment.

Ellen, as usual, gave us a history lesson – though in this case it was about the history of time-keeping. The Transgressive Archivist explored how time is not just malleable as Alissa reminded us, but also that different experiences of time affect how we relate to each other:

Whenever we interact with another person, we’re subtly translating how we understand and perceive time. Sometimes that translation means we keep someone waiting or we rush someone when we didn’t mean to. Sometimes it means we schedule an event on someone else’s holy day. Sometimes it means the software we use converts an ISO 8601 date format into a different date format and confusion results.

Translating Time

Bonus point for the ISO 8601 reference – it’s my favourite international standard, so it should hardly be a surprise that I blogged about Internet Time. If you still have some time left after reading all of that, Ellen has some suggestions for how to fill it.


We don’t have a guest blogger this month (if you’d like to volunteer for a future guest blog post, shoot us an email). So you can get cracking straight away on your Blog Club post for September on the theme of Discovery.

Remember to tag your blog post GLAM Blog Club and use the hashtag #GLAMBlogClub on social media. Registering on the Aus GLAM Blogs site makes it easier for everyone to find your blog!


GLAM Blog Club August – Time

The theme for GLAM Blog Club in July was play. Rebecca explores the power of play in museums. Kassi has always liked playing games, in lots of different forms. Andrew shares the importance of safety mechanics and spotting triggers during role playing games. Sarah shares learnings from the CAVAL seminar Building Blocks for Digital Dexterity in the Workplace which included digital play as a way to train staff in digital dexterity. Anne encourages libraries to reduce plastics during plastic free July: Let’s play! 4 plastics it’s your librarian duty to get rid of… Philip makes connections between Play, trauma and recovery. On the Transgressive Archivist blog, the author states: “… GLAM institutions must be particularly mindful that not all of the material we hold is appropriate for being converted into data to be played with”; referring here to culturally and personally sensitive material held in GLAM collections. Andrew created an online mystery for staff to play on LibGuides. Thank you to everyone who blogged during July and the interesting topics discussed through the theme of play.

The theme for August is time. You might feel like you have more time now, too much time, or time is surreal. We look forward to reading your blogs. Thank you to Sae Ra Germaine, our guest blogger this month.


My relationship with time:

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has thought this, how the hell is it August already?! When I originally agreed to write this guest blog post way, way, WAY back in March, I had a very different take on time in mind and then… well, that “thing” happened.

I have always had a very close relationship with time. My father was an army man so things were to the minute, dinner was always at 1730hrs, no exceptions! To top it off he was also a mad clock and watch collector/fixer. So there was ALWAYS a clock right in eyesight. No joke there’s about 200 clocks “in” the house, who knows how many are in the shed! The ticking and chiming is meticulous. But lately things have changed, the only thing that accurately tells the time in that house is the digital clock that is mounted at the top of the kitchen cupboard in a bright red font so he can see it from any part of the living/dining area.

So suffice to say I’ve been on time to things about 99% of the time. But that was B.C. Before COVID. BC was a time where I could easily work out what time it was just by looking outside or by my regular schedule. My body clock was set to wake up 45 minutes before my train left in the morning, and I was ready to fall asleep 6 hours before I had to wake up. I relied on this for everything; to know what day it was, what I had planned for the day and most of all for my self esteem. Time was one of the very few things that I could control in this world. I’m usually pretty flexible with everything else but if you say I need to be somewhere by 5pm I will be there on time or (in most cases) earlier. I respected time and it respected me.

Melbourne has now gone into its second lockdown and like many others I’ve ended up in a massive slump. I always knew that this would be an on and off thing until some sort of vaccine was available, but for some reason this lock-down is harder than the last. Time is no longer something that is easy to control. I’m in endless Zoom meetings, one after another, I work outside of those hours to keep up with what I wasn’t able to do whilst I was in these meetings. Meetings would run from one into another. I’m now late to meetings, my brain is fried and it’s affecting my mood. I’m less patient. I’m feeling less in control of the bigger picture and most of all, and I will openly admit this, I have not been coping well at all. I then started to realise that maybe my dad not keeping his clocks in good time was a hint that he was not coping with this as much as I thought either. Not being able to go to his clock club meetings or his men shed was leaving him very isolated and driving my mum crazy.

Why is it now that this all started to sink in? Why not earlier? Why? Why? Why? Who knows, but at least I now recognise it. I had to get to this conclusion myself, but I feel that I should say (even though it’s said everywhere) please know that you’re not the only one and please don’t take offence if I’m not as responsive as I usually am. I’m trying to work it out and I know you are too.

In the meantime I figured I should share what I’m currently doing to get myself out of the slump. These tricks all seem so small and really easy to do…. so why didn’t I do it earlier? I’m not sure, but it’s what I’m doing now.

1) Take time to reflect: I have set 2 hours a week aside for me, my thoughts and my experiences. I think about what I have achieved this week, what I can improve and plan for the new week. I write things down, play a game on the Switch or sing at the top of my lungs. I just let it all out. I usually do this on a Friday afternoon, things are much quieter then in general so I use that time wisely.

2) Nothing new Fridays: Where possible I don’t start anything new on a Friday. I close off what I can, but if I start something and don’t finish it, I can’t switch off during the weekend and never get a break for my mind.

3) Mid-week I attend a Bitch and Stitch session: They are with friends from other parts of Australia and New Zealand but technology is marvelous and it gives me a great opportunity to talk to people and connect where I normally wouldn’t. It’s not work, it’s not COVID, it’s just time to bitch about things and connect with those that aren’t just family or work whilst creating something beautiful. I have made new friends during these sessions so there are silver linings to this pandemic.

4) Enter a social media/internet blackout each evening.

5) Going to “work” and going home rituals. My office is in my living room. It’s hard to separate between work and home, the lines are extremely blurred. So at 8:45am and at 5:30pm each work day I spend 15 minutes taking down or putting up my green screen. Whilst the green screen helps me with having fancy backgrounds during my calls it has the added benefit of providing a clear line between when I’m working and when I’m not.

6) Make sure you eat and stay hydrated!

7) This week, I attended a VALA “Leaning In” session facilitated by Carmel O’Sullivan and there were 3 words that just stuck with me: Calm, Cautious and Flexible. There is now a note on my monitor saying: Remember to be Calm, Cautious and Flexible. I’m working on not being so rigid about time and being more flexible. Adding some flex into my time and not saying yes to every. single. meeting.

I do look forward to seeing A.D. (After Disease). In the mean-time I hope to become reacquainted with Time and respect it again.


GLAM Blog Club July 2020

June days are over, July is here, and with it a new GLAM Blog Club theme. At the beginning of June, Jenny Scott introduced us to the theme of Risk. Clare contributed their thoughts about queer career cocooning, and Anne Reddacliff launched the new ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group blog with a post on things you can do to live more sustainably. We also enjoyed 25 posts from Alisa Howlett in her month-long video blog series on evidence-based library and information practice. Great work Alisa! As if that wasn’t enough blog content for you, several other cardies joined Alisa in Blog June. Check out all the posts from last month on the GLAM Blogs site.

For July our theme is play, Guest blogger Gene kicks us off this month with a personal story that combines our themes from last month and this month. We’re looking forward to your own contributions over the rest of July!


Playing games

Content warning: this blog post mentions sexual assault, bullying, abuse, and COVID-19.

I hate playing games. You’d think this wouldn’t be a problem in a professional context, and yet… In my work in libraries I’m constantly being thrown into getting to know you games at staff forums, role playing games during personal development training, puzzle solving games during UX design workshops, and team bonding board game afternoons. When I find myself in these situations my heart starts racing, I start sweating, I feel nauseous, and I start to feel shaky. I have a panic reaction, basically.

My reaction is, of course, the polar opposite to what’s intended, which is fun and enjoyable activities to make work more engaging and build relationships. Realising this, I sought help from a therapist. Through therapy, I came to understand that my reaction to games is connected to an incident in my late teens when I was sexually assaulted on the street on my way home from a poker night with friends. I didn’t see the perpetrator and never reported the incident, but have always wondered if it was a homophobically motivated attack by someone who knew me from school. As a man, I never felt comfortable sharing my trauma history with my managers. Although I did ask if I could sit out of some of the activities I found distressing and explained that they caused me pain (I have a number of chronic health conditions, and find that intense emotional reactions often trigger physical pain flare ups), I was told that they were important for team building and that I had to join in regardless.

GLAM sector professionals are more than 80% female (Australian Library and Information Association, 2019), and an alarming number of female-assigned and/or -identified people are the targets of men’s violence. The proportion of GLAM sector workers with a disability is also slightly higher than in the general workforce (Australian Library and Information Association, 2019), and there’s evidence that people who experience adverse childhood events (ACEs) are more at risk of developing chronic health conditions later in life (Barnes et al., 2020). GLAM institutions therefore have a responsibility to manage their workforces in ways that take account of the fact that a higher percentage of their staff than in the general workforce are, in all likelihood, trauma survivors.

Libraries and museums often use games with patrons, as well as with staff. And while it might not be common exactly to have a trauma response associated with games, like mine, it’s perfectly plausible that some people may have childhood histories of being bullied or abused that are tied up with schoolyard games or family game night. Indeed, the current COVID-19 situation may be associated, for many people, with a traumatic time in their lives when they were trapped at home feeling scared for their health, their loved ones, or their jobs, with little to do but play board and video games. One library I worked at used to put on escape room style puzzle games for new students for O-week. Next year’s intake of students may no longer react to the scenario of being locked inside a room with a buzz of excitement, but instead with the anger, fear, and frustration of being confined in COVID-19 lockdown. Games are supposed to be fun, so if a patron has a trauma response and isn’t enjoying themselves, they may experience feelings of shame. Trauma informed library and museum practice means acknowledging that patrons may have these kinds of reactions to programming that is intended to be enjoyable and making space for that.

References

Australian Library and Information Association. (2019). ALIA workforce diversity trend report 2019. Australian Library and Information Association. https://read.alia.org.au/workforce-diversity-trend-report-2019

Barnes, A. J., Anthony, B. J., Karatekin, C., Lingras, K. A., Mercado, R., & Thompson, L. A. (2020). Identifying adverse childhood experiences in pediatrics to prevent chronic health conditions. Pediatric Research, 87(2), 362–370. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41390-019-0613-3