Five reflections on five years: Queerying the GLAM sector with newCardigan

newCardigan is five years old this month. If we were a human, we’d be “going” to school over Zoom by now! Normally we like to have a little birthday cardiParty in June, but things are weird this year. Instead, every day this week one of the ‘cardiCore’ will be sharing their personal reflections on the first five years of newCardigan. Please share your own reflections with us on your favourite social media, your blog, as a video or audio recording, an email, or via ye olde postal service. We can’t wait to read, hear and watch them.

In some reflections I shared about newCardigan for our third birthday in 2018, I noted that I had accidentally led many people to believe it was a group of and for queer GLAM professionals and noted how important it was to see them make a strong stance in support of marriage equality. Since 2018, I have moved from being a keen newCardigan participant to the newest cardiCore member in 2019 and we have gone down an even queerer path! We even made pride-themed badges:

At the September 2018 cardiParty, we chatted about the ephemeral nature of zines and the ethics of zine collecting and cataloguing, and I started making a zine about queerying the GLAM sector.

I want to pause to remember Charmaine Matyson who died late last year and was a volunteer zines collection cataloguer at the State Library of Victoria, and had volunteered at the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives and many other places too. I wish I’d known them better and been able to work with them, and greatly miss connecting on Twitter and at cardiParties, but am pleased that everyone can still hear them talk about zines in the recording of this cardiParty. Vale Charmaine. 

In October at the Grainger Museum, I discovered my new favourite fashion style (towelling!) and a museum that puts the kink in KINQ with its lust branch thanks to Tamara Jones, and learned about some ways in which Chelsea Harris has been encouraging and supporting diversity in  the GLAM sector.

The cardiParty at Incendium Radical Library in February 2019 stuck with me (and Hugh) and I highly recommend reading this harm minimisation approach to the operation of GLAM institutions which it inspired too. It was so empowering to see and hear about what is pretty much the library of my dreams.

In March 2019, I hosted my first cardiParty at the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA) where we heard from committee members and a GLAMorous volunteer (Roxanne), and had a tour of our reading room. I don’t think my colleague Richard quite believed me when I said how excited people would be to hear about Project Monte – our online catalogue system project – on a Friday night, but he quickly learned that we were the perfect audience for this! You can find out more in Richard’s conference paper at LGBTQ ALMS in Berlin later that year. I loved that we had quite a few first time cardiParty attendees at this event.

Not long after this cardiParty, there was one with Archie Boulter who talked about their experiences creating queer spaces in the GLAM sector and beyond, co-leading the establishment of LGBTIQA+ Advisory Groups across Museums Victoria, and setting up Queer Town as part of part of the Foundry658 Accelerator program run by ACMI and the State Library. I didn’t host this one, but I loved it and it played a role in the first cardiParty I organised as a committee member… just before lockdown on Friday the 13th (!) of March. 

I hosted Queerying the GLAM sector teach in that was a little like the participatory zine and Incendium Radical Library cardiParty formats. I crowdsourced resources and questions beforehand which you can still view and add to online. It was one of the last things I did in the before times and it has really helped me get through this pandemic. The key messages I took from the discussion were around the importance of solidarity and peer support and the need for allies & accomplices to listen and then act, which have been so formative in these times of physical distancing and intense union activism for me. Angela Bailey, president of ALGA, attended and mentioned the letters of support and solidarity that can be found in our archives last night and it’s got me remembering when I first learned about about the gay library workers group from the 70s and their bibliographical babbling (my gaytway to ALGA which I discovered around the time i’d first started working in libraries and safe schools coalition was being attacked) so I thought I’d share a little snapshot of it:

I love being part of newCardigan as we help create spaces for GLAM sector workers to listen to diverse perspectives and empower them to be allies and accomplices and act (or as we say JFDI), and look forward to doing so even more in future.