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.


Five reflections on five years: helping people be awesome

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.


I joined newCardigan in early 2017 as a ‘friend from the West’. I had never been to a cardiParty but I knew that I wanted to set them up in Perth. I spent that year watching, learning, and scoping out potential cardiParties in Perth. Would the Melbourne setup work for the laid back, spread out Perth region? What happens when we run out of places to visit? Who’s going to help me? Luckily I had great support and knew some excellent people to tap on the shoulder and they happily helped me out.

Not many early Perth photos exist as it was hard to run an event and capture it on film all by yourself! Instead enjoy the Bon Scott Memorial from our Fremantle Cemetery cardiParty.

Watching the Perth events grow and change over the last few years have helped restore my joy in GLAM. Talking to museum folks about exhibitions, introducing librarians to archivists, and visiting places that we’d not normally go. One of my favourite cardiParties would have to be the walking pub tour of Perth. Not only was it hilarious, fun, and informative, but we got to ‘drink’ in some culture along the way. Honestly, you haven’t lived till you’ve rushed from bar-to-bar with a group of GLAM folk talking about architecture, society, and beer.

The Omeo is Perth’s premier shore-based shipwreck, lying just under water, only 25m from the shore of Coogee Beach. Our Coogee Maritime trail tour was another unique Perth cardiParty.

newCardigan helps GLAM professionals to be more awesome. This is why I wanted to bring newCardigan to WA. Nothing gives me greater joy than to introduce two amazing people and say ‘you should talk’ and walk away knowing that the seeds for some interesting project might be about to be born. Be it new people coming along to their first event or seeing those familiar faces turn up again and again, I think everyone walks away from a cardiParty a little bit changed for the better. Five years of newCardigan means five years of helping people be awesome, and what’s better than that?


Five reflections on five years: we’re just getting started

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 June 2015, scheming with friends at a bar between the Yarra River and Flinders Street Station, we thought it would be fun to invite other GLAM workers to a regular catchup over drinks. Little did I know that five years later we would have formed a community of hundreds of GLAM workers across the whole of Australia and New Zealand, run dozens of in-person events, established a podcast, and been invited to tour some of the most amazing GLAM venues in Melbourne, Perth, and beyond. It’s been a wild ride, and yet it still feels like we’re just getting started.

newCardigan has been evolving the entire time, but one thing has always stayed the same. The ‘new’ in newCardigan was always about challenging ourselves and our professions to think, act, and interact in new ways. To be of our communities, not just for our communities. To be public institutions, not just institutions for the public. And our semi-official motto – “Just fucking do it” (JFDI) – was aimed at the typically ponderous and timid approach we believed our official GLAM institutions and professional associations were taking in their interactions with the world.

Incendium Radical Library, February 2019

Last year’s cardiParty at Melbourne’s Incendium Radical Library (IRL) has really stuck with me – I think about it every week, because it exemplifies what I want from newCardigan and from GLAM. Our hosts were gracious and welcoming, despite having never heard of us before I cold-emailed them. IRL’s very existence challenges typical public library operating models and assumptions about what should be in library collections, and why. And more than anything, in the midst of culture warriors screaming about freedom of speech, and demanding ‘neutrality’, IRL shows us how to enact an uncompromising harm-minimisation approach to the operation of GLAM institutions. Like all the best cardiParties, it ‘complicated’ things I thought were familiar to me, and opened up a whole new world of possibility.

I can’t wait to see what the next five years of newCardigan bring.


Five reflections on five years: my people

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.


Image: GLAM Walking Tour, Hayley Webster and Gemma Steele, Museums Victoria’s Library,  Rare Book Collection, Melbourne Museum, January 2018

What a strange time to turn 5. Lockdown has given us all time to reflect. What does newCardigan mean to me? It’s a lifeline to a community that has grown and become a significant part of the GLAM sector in Melbourne and Perth, and beyond, over the past 5 years.

On 12 June 2015 newCardigan hosted the very first cardiParty. Sadly I wasn’t there for that, but a friend brought me along to my first cardiParty in September, then in December Hugh asked me to join cardiCore. I’m incredibly thankful for being part of this community.

Image: GLAM Walking Tour, Clare O’Hanlon at RMIT Gallery, January 2017

When I think back, the thing I’ve taken away from all of those cardiParties, are all the conversations I’ve had with cardies about finding their community. One cardie said to me, after recently moving to Melbourne from Canberra, ‘I’ve found my people’. That’s what newCardigan means to me.

Image: GLAM Walking Tour, curator Julie McLaren giving a tour of the Art Gallery of Ballarat, January 2019

I have so many happy and proud memories with newCardigan. GLAM walking tours have been such a crazy logistical challenge to organise, but they have always been so much fun on the day! We had a GLAM walking tour planned for this year, but sadly we have had to postpone. For anyone who has been on one, it’s a rollercoaster ride of a day, a short stop at each of the four sites, and a walk between (two years running it rained cats and dogs!)… It’s like having four cardiParties in one day, exhausting, stimulating and heaven. 

In January 2017 we had our first GLAM walking tour, it rained, as we walked through Melbourne from the Athenaeum Library, to the Shot Tower Museum in Melbourne Central, to RMIT Gallery, and finishing the day at RMIT Design Archives. Such a memorable day. The following year, January 2018, it rained, as we made our way from the Centre for Contemporary Photography to Melbourne Museum where we heard from the Library, Palaeontology, and Archives. I remember 40 cardies in a large room at Melbourne Museum, all wet from our walk, but still beaming with enthusiasm and excitement at the incredible rare books, fossils and archives on display. Last year we headed to Ballarat, it was a very sunny hot day as we made our way from the Art Gallery of Ballarat, to the Ballarat Mechanics Institute where we explored the library and archive collection, then a very hot long walk to the Gold Museum after lunch. I know, we’re crazy to host GLAM Walking Tours in January. We were going to break that tradition this year. I can’t tell you how excited I’ll be at our next GLAM Walking Tour. I can’t wait.


Five reflections on five years: a lot of noise

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.


Image: Clare Presser recording a cardiCast episode in the studio, October 2018

Goodness gracious – I have been part of newCardigan for a little over 3 years now. And what a ride it has been! I have managed to be part of the cardiCore from places around the world, interviewed Zine librarians in New York and strolled around just so many cool collections. For the most part, I have put the most energy in the cardiCasts – editing, recording and generally having a fun time sticking a mic into people’s faces. I am not the originator of the cardiCast (you can all thank Justine for that), but it has allowed me to keep my editing chops fresh as a daisy.


Image: Justine Hanna recording a cardiCast episode in the studio, June 2017

The challenge with cardiCast as an editor, and quite possibly for the listener, is to make the audio as easy to listen to as possible. I have hung over bannisters, crouched on the ground and convinced people to talk to me in broom cupboards to try and get the clearest listening experience possible.

Image: Clare Presser recording audio for cardiCast at the Sale Water Tower Museum, November 2019

People think GLAM institutions are quiet places. I don’t think people know how much noise an air conditioner makes, how acoustically live a concrete vault is or just how much of an auditory overload an interactive exhibition can be (hello animatronic dinosaurs). We, as a sector, make a lot of noise. Be as literal or metaphorical about that as you want, really!

Playing around with such an inspiring palette of people, places and organisations is a joy and a real pleasure. We all do some really cool stuff and it’s so great to get that out there. 

Keep on writing those hits, kids.
We’ll keep on shouting it from the rooftops.