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


GLAM Blog Club June 2020

May has come and gone, and here we are at the beginning of another month. You can check out all the posts from May on Aus GLAM Blogs, (and register your own blog while you’re there) but here are some highlights:

Don’t forget to tag your posts with GLAM Blog Club and use the hashtag #GLAMBlogClub when sharing them. Now here’s guest author Jenny Scott with some blog inspiration for our June theme, risk:


Thoughts on Risk

In the words of Kelly Clarkson, we’ve gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change, and break away [from colonialist narratives, outdated exhibits, and irrelevant collecting practices].

It is clear that so many of us in the GLAM sector need to step out of our comfort zones and look to other disciplines to find new ways of engaging communities, forming partnerships, and telling stories.

Otherwise we run the risk of losing our relevance to the communities that we exist to serve; of losing our purpose.

It is a risk if we don’t promote diverse stories, if we don’t address the less-than-savoury pasts of our institutions, if we don’t produce exhibitions and texts that actively engage with the manifold, nuanced, and often dark histories of this country. (Not to be too dramatic, but we run the risk of our reputation in popular culture becoming a reality – of people who live to sternly shush visitors from behind dusty stacks of boxes).

With these risks in mind, here are some Perth-based projects and organisations that inspire me (because the rest of Australia tends to forget we exist).

I’m definitely not implying every cultural institution should transform into a travelling caravan or devote themselves entirely to posting endless ‘recreate our famous paintings’ memes on social media. Rather, these are examples of agile organisations and projects that respond to the needs and interests of their communities – who work to empower, hold relevance, and promote layered and accessible histories beyond any official singular narrative.

  • The Chin Wagon – a custom-built traveling recording studio designed to capture community-led conversations, from the team behind the wildly popular Barefaced Stories platform.
  • The Centre for Stories – a cultural institution dedicated to inclusive storytelling, with an empowering program of events, publications, and projects providing platforms for a vast range of diverse and under-represented communities (disclaimer: I sometimes volunteer here).
  • Contemporary art projects in general! As one specific example, ‘The Lion Never Sleeps’ was a show at Fringe World 2020 offering a silent-disco-style walking tour of Northbridge exploring queer histories of the area during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Presented by Noemie Huttner-Koros, this was a deeply engaging example of re-introducing hidden and subversive histories into the spaces they once occupied.
  • The Perth Aesthetics Facebook Group (admittedly this is a stretch to include) – a user-led celebration of shared cultural landscapes in all their kitschy, cringey, and bizarre-o glory. This is probably common to many place-specific social media groups (although this one is great because there are less racists).

I guess I want to raise some questions – how can we maintain long-term relevance as GLAM institutions?

What needs to change for us to embed the contemporary values of accessibility and inclusivity into our work?

How can we improve our ‘bad vibes’? (See The White Pube piece that inspired this blog post).

Note: the topic of ‘risk’ takes on a particular poignancy in our current age of COVID-19, while so many aspects of our sector (and indeed wider society) appear to be at risk. I think it’s worth acknowledging that everything is very hard right now – really it’s amazing that anyone still has the capacity to remain productive during these especially trying times. So perhaps this blog is an attempt at offering inspiration, rather than a call to action (for now!).


GLAM Blog Club – Forever

There were plenty of blog posts in April, but only a few tagged #GLAMBlogClub for our ‘free square’ theme.

New to the club was Jacqui Sanders with her post on the Asylum’s most asked about object. I explained how to automatically delete your old tweets and toots using your own computer. Two COVID-19 themed posts round out our formally tagged collection – Ellen Forsyth was looking for partnerships, and Alissa McCulloch described her frustration with the martyr complex.

Check out the other posts from April on Aus GLAM Blogs.

To participate in GLAM Blog Club:

  1. Include the tag GLAM Blog Club in your post
  2. Tweet/Toot about it using the hashtag #GLAMBlogClub
  3. Register your blog with Aus GLAM Blogs so we can find it and it gets automatically shared with the Australasian GLAM community

From this month on, newCardigan will hand over the controls each month to a special guest blogger from the newCardigan community, to inspire you with a post on that month’s topic. For April 2020 our theme is Forever, and Danielle J is our guest blogger.

Hugh.


In romance novels, “forever” is the bit at the end where the couple have worked through their issues; they know they can’t live without each other, usually there’s kissing. Getting to the happily ever after is the best bit, and I’m completely and unashamedly romantic about the idea that something could last forever.

Which could explain why I’ve always loved old books, going to galleries and museums and looking at things that have been around forever. I am fascinated about who the people were who made it, what their lives were like and how against the odds it’s survived, when so much doesn’t. I’ve always been interested in preservation of physical objects, it’s an art but strongly based on science and requiring knowledge of inorganic chemistry – it definitely appeals to my inner science nerd.

For us in GLAM industries and especially memory institutions; collecting, preserving and organising for future generations is what we do. The ongoing challenge of collecting and preserving born digital objects, is a conversation we have been having since I started in the industry ten years ago. I think frequently about what knowledge of everyday life will be lost because a lot of our interactions are now ephemeral – we text or email rather than send letters. Can enough of the experience of ordinary people be captured so that scholars of the future get an understanding of who we are?

It would be hard to write this post without mentioning that we are living through a global pandemic. Right now, it feels a bit endless and like isolation and disruption will go on forever. But for collecting institutions it’s a perfect opportunity to capture and preserve this moment in time and space.

In recent days a number of state libraries have launched projects to collect objects and stories about our isolation experiences. The memory bank, which is the State Library of Victoria’s project, wants to actively collect objects from the community. I also know of friends who work in local history, taking photos around their area to document the empty streets and shopping centres.

I’m really looking forward to reading posts from GLAM colleagues who work in this area, as there’s a lot that I’m interested in but know very little about. So, go on, what does forever mean to you?