Library guides at the State Library

Librarians from the State Library of Victoria have been putting together Library guides on various subject areas to help people with their research tasks.

It’s essentially a cheat sheet that guide you through the research process by wading through the array of resources available to you.

Here’s a sample of what’s been created:
1. Aboriginal people & the law
2. Adoption & forgotten Australians
3. Bushfires
4. Companies in Australia
5. Court cases in Australia
6. Early Australian census records
7. Finding Australian legislation
8. Finding book reviews
9. Finding music scores & popular songs
10. Finding poetry

Image of research guide on census

There are 28 more guides on a range of topics but you can see the entire list here.

It’s commonplace for universities to have library guides, so do check them out for other subject areas, especially for senior students. Or you can create your own easily and quickly, in LibGuides.

Let us know if you’ve already created some LibGuides – we’d love to hear about them.

TEDxMelbourne – 20 November 2010

If you are a fan of the TED talks (and who isn’t?) you might be interested in the TEDxMelbourne event coming up this weekend. (TEDx are independently organised TED events.) Although the physical session has sold out, you can participate online in a number of different ways.

Screen shot 2010-11-12 at 2.48.11 PM

Thanks to Hamish Curry from the State Library of Victoria for the following links:

General program

Speakers & performers

Blog on other ways to enjoy the experience

Registration for receiving the webcast

Oh, and late breaking news…here is the link to experience the event in Virtual 3D (like Second Life) – limited to 100 participants.

Hopefully you can join the action virtually if you were unable to get a ticket. You can also follow TEDxMelbourne on Twitter for news of other events.

State Library of Victoria survey

Hamish Curry, the Education & Onsite Learning Manager, Learning Services at the State Library of Victoria asks readers of Bright Ideas for the following assistance:

The Education team at the State Library of Victoria are embarking upon steps to evolve the learning services we offer onsite, online, and offsite.

A significant part of this is to gather feedback from our audiences and partners. From those that connect with us regularly, and reaching those that don’t.

We’ve built this survey, which takes no more 10 minutes to complete, to collect this information. Entering your email address at the end puts you in the running to win one of eight $50 iTunes vouchers.

I would love your participation in this survey (if you feel it’s appropriate), but also if you know of other educators and networks who can help paint a picture of how we can build better education services.

The State Library of Victoria is such a wonderful resource and they are planning (with our help, via this survey) to make it even better. Exciting times ahead!


Hamish Curry, the Education and Onsite Learning Manager of the State Library of Victoria has kindly sent the following information:

HI warmly invite you to join me at the groundbreaking Listen2Learners event.


The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the State Library of Victoria, together with the UK’s Professor Stephen Heppell, are staging Listen2Learnersto enable you to meet students who are learning with technology and demonstrate how they are shaping their digital learning world.

Listen2Learners is a chance to understand the types of skills, expertise and enthusiasms which young people have, and to hear about it from the students themselves.  Creative primary and secondary students from across Australia will tell their own stories about how they are using technology to overcome barriers, meet personal challenges and access learning in the 21st century.

Professor Heppell, will be on hand to tell you what other systems are achieving by listening to their learners.

The event will be held on Monday 11 October 2010 in Experimedia at the State Library of Victoria.

Please visit any time between 10am and 2.30pm to speak with the students, meet Professor Heppell and network with like minded people from across the education sector and beyond.   Light refreshments will be provided.

Register your attendance here.

For a glimpse of what you can expect to discover at the Listen2Learners event, please visit the website and follow the event on Twitter # Listen2Learners.

I know you will value this opportunity to see the kinds of things students are doing with technology, driven by their own passions and interests.

I look forward to catching up with you at Listen2Learners.

Listen2Learners sounds like a brilliant initiative and Stephen Heppell is an inspiring speaker.

SYN Media Free professional learning

Next week sees a number of free professional learning sessions looking at digital tools for learning and teaching. Presented by SYN Media in conjunction with the State Library of Victoria, all events are free, but bookings are essential. Highlights include:

  • Multimedia and hands on session
  • Adrian Camm – active learning in the (un)classroom
  • Engaging VCAL students through media and digital communication.

A fantastic opportunity to discover more about ways to engage students.

Historical Facebook

Recently edtech guru Richard Byrne wrote about a way to encourage students to research using the concept of Facebook. By creating a faux Facebook account for a person of interest, students need to research that person and try to bring their personality to life. Derrick Waddell has developed a template that any teacher can freely use.

Screen shot 2010-08-12 at 8.38.52 AM

To read the entire post, click here.

Note: Students will NOT set up a Facebook account, this is merely a template based on the Facebook concept and layout.

The State Library of Victoria Education Services have also alerted me to an interactive way for teachers to bring Shakespeare to life for their students. Sarah Schmelling created this Facebook page for Hamlet:

Screen shot 2010-08-12 at 9.39.18 AM

Again, Facebook does not have to be used for this unit, but using the template above, students could create new Shakespearean scenes, scenarios, characters or plays, update the play they are studying or develop conversations between characters.

A great way to bring history to life for our students using a format they are familiar with.

New and improved site from State Library of Victoria

The State Library of Victoria has just relaunched its website. With an amazing wealth of information, activities and events, checking out the new SLV website is a must.


Hamish Curry, Education & Onsite Learning Manager in the Learning Services area of the State Library of Victoria explains:
This revamped site opens up a great deal of new opportunities to bring our collections and services to the surface; be sure to check out the ‘Learn’, ‘Explore’ and ‘What’s On’ sections.
Professional learning
Online learning resources
Online learning resources such as:
are included.
Professional learning
Professional learning
The professional learning page (above) caters for:
slv 4

Student and teacher resources

The Student and teacher resources page (above) provides resources related to:

  • Specific websites for schools (such as ergo, Insideadog)
  • SLV blogs
  • Audio and video resources
  • Education kits

So many fantastic resources available in the one place, the newly revamped SLV website is an absolute treasure.

Keeping Young Australians Reading

A very interesting and useful report from the Centre for Youth Literature on the state of reading at the young adult level has been released. Updating the 2001 report Young Australians Reading, Keeping Young Australians Reading addresses the landscape and data of, you guessed it, young adults reading in 2009.

Paula Kelly, the Reader Development and Onsite Learning Manager (inc. Centre for Youth Literature) Learning Services at the State Library of Victoria highlights the following points from the new report:

  • that young people area reading – perhaps more than ever!
  • why it is vital to promote reading and the positive outcomes it affects
  • what the barriers are to reading and how to overcome them
  • trends in young people’s reading environments and challenges in addressing these
  • how it is we all can put, and keep, books in the hands of young people

The State Library and the Centre for Youth Literature are also to be congratulated on the following achievements:

  •  a doubling of the youth audience in partnership with others in the Centre for Youth Literature program delivery
  • the distribution of almost 100,000th free picture books for Victorian 2 year olds in the Young Readers Program
  • the development of an online primary age audience partnership with SuperClubs Plus Australia
    (for which an Arts Victoria Leadership Award was presented)
  • the launch of another adult Summer Read program in partnership with the Public Libraries of Victoria
  • the support of the establishment of the Australian Children’s Literature Alliance.

Well done to everyone involved. The 2001 report Young Australians Reading was a vital and much quoted report. The 2009 Keeping Young Australians Reading is also a must-read for anyone interested in young adult education. Anyone on the ground in school or public libraries know exactly what is happening in their own institution, but it is imperative that we see the bigger picture of the culture of reading Australia-wide. It is also very useful to be able to access up-to-date statistics to add evidence to any budget or grant applications.

The Wheeler Centre: Books, Writing, Ideas

Two recent articles published in The Age highlighted Melbourne’s forthcoming Wheeler Centre: Books, Writing, Ideas.

Wheelers help turn new page at centre


November 27, 2009

WHEN Tony and Maureen Wheeler created their travel-book company at a kitchen table in 1972, they had no idea Lonely Planet would become one of the great Australian entrepreneurial success stories.

They certainly couldn’t have known that hundreds of journeys later it would lead to the centrepiece of Melbourne’s successful bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature being named after them.

But yesterday there was a new title page in the story of the Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas when it was renamed the Wheeler Centre: Books, Writing, Ideas.

The Wheelers, who sold 75 per cent of Lonely Planet to BBC Worldwide two years ago for about $200 million, have also made a substantial endowment to the centre, the income from which will be used to help fund the program of events when the centre opens next year.

The Wheelers have a philanthropic foundation, Planet Wheeler, that operates in the areas of child and maternal welfare, education and health care in South-East Asia and Africa.

Maureen Wheeler said when the idea of contributing to the centre was raised they decided it was a great way to give something back to Melbourne. ”We liked the idea immediately because it fitted in so much with the things we’re interested in. There isn’t anything like it in Australia and I love the fact that it’s in Melbourne.”

The Wheelers would not say how much their endowment was worth.

”When I compare it with what we started with, it’s a lot of money,” Mr Wheeler said. And Mrs Wheeler said, ”it was more than adequate”.

Centre director Chrissy Sharp said the substantial amount was a fantastic boon that eased the planning of events.

The centre also announced that its launch event would be held on February 13 – the anniversary of the Federal Government’s apology to the stolen generations – and would feature 12 writers telling stories that had been handed down to them through their families.

Among those taking part are David Malouf, Paul Kelly, Chloe Hooper, Alexis Wright, Christos Tsiolkas and Alex Miller. Ms Sharp said the centre’s full program would be unveiled in January.

The centre is based in a wing of the State Library of Victoria and, in addition to staging events, will provide a home for organisations such as the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Victorian Writers’ Centre and the Australian Poetry Centre.

Feisty, fabulous and full of ideas

Andrew Stephens
November 28, 2009

WHEN she was in her 20s, Chrissy Sharp strode into the Sydney offices of the then revered ABC documentary program Chequerboard and told them she wanted to work there. She had big ideas. ”I said, ‘I know I could work here: please give me a job.’ ” Sharp, who grew up in Canberra, had seen the indigenous tent embassy at Parliament House and she was in a lather to do something on it. Chequerboard, which tackled such thorny issues, took a risk and hired her as a researcher.

It was a lucky break – but then, she had been pushing for a while.

”There I was,” she says, ”at uni in Canberra, and I felt so guilty that I could be so aware of American civil rights but had never really, really, understood the plight of Aborigines. I thought, I’ve got to do something. I beleaguered Four Corners; but I was never a journalist, I wasn’t going to get a job on Four Corners – I used to get these responses saying, ‘Please apply to the typing pool.’ ” She pauses. ”And I couldn’t type.” So she went to Sydney for the old foot-in-door at Chequerboard.

These days, they come to her.

Here in her office in a wing of the State Library of Victoria – which houses the much-anticipated Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing, Ideas, where Sharp is inaugural director – she whips open a window to let the noise in. Clearly, she loves buzz and the flurry of creativity and – yes – the inevitable panic that her big new job attracts. So, windows open, that same sort of frenetic activity – the burble of trams, pedestrians and lunchtime conversations on the lawns below – filters up into her room. She thrives on it.

Chrissy Sharp, her husband, Michael Lynch, explains, is a truly formidable person. ”Woe betide anyone who gets in her way!” he laughs, uproariously. Not because she’s scary but because she’s full of warm, infectious energy; she gets things moving and she inspires loyalty. She’s immediately, immensely likeable. And very clever.

These two people have been described, rather lamely, as a ”power couple”, but there’s much more complexity and panache to it than that. You get the feeling – both of them have fantastic laughs, full of character – that they have enormous fun together when they meet up between the demanding tasks of their busy professional lives. There is, it seems, an authenticity of enjoyment about what they do and why they do it.

Last June, they arrived in Melbourne after about seven years in London, where Lynch was horrendously busy as chief executive of London arts hub the Southbank Centre; he had become one of England’s most admired and sparky arts administrators, overseeing the $260 million refurbishment of Royal Festival Hall. Sharp, who had previously been general manager of the Sydney Festival, had – of course – taken on a risky business there herself: trying to wrench ailing dance theatre Sadler’s Wells out of deep doldrums. She did more than that. By the time she left, it was the city’s pre-eminent dance outfit, with five successive surpluses and a quarter more attendees.

So it is hard to believe it when she reveals that, once upon a time, she ran a flower shop.

”It was such a long time ago, when I was a farmer’s wife,” she laughs. She had two sons in that marriage (she now has a stepdaughter, too), and a desire to open a flower shop in the NSW town near where they lived. ”It was very hard work. It meant twice a week driving down to the flower markets in Sydney and getting back by the time the shop opened. It was a lousy way to make money – but I was young. And very energetic.”

What’s changed? Now she is in full, energetic swing as director of the Wheeler Centre, her first job doing a start-up, from the ground up, with a small staff and – despite the Books and Writing bit in the centre’s title – a particularly deep interest in Ideas. Among the first people on her year-round program of events – it will be a festival that never stops – are ethicist/philosopher Peter Singer, US foreign affairs journalist Mark Danner and a top-notch panel teasing out the minefield of media ethics, led by former Ageeditor Michael Gawenda.

”The importance of cultural nourishment, whether it be through books or dance or music, is just vital, I think, to society, ” says Sharp, who has never lived in Melbourne but is agog at the depth of intellectual life she has discovered in just a few months. She wants the centre – named after Lonely Planet founders and philanthropists Tony and Maureen Wheeler, who have made a generous endowment – to be the sort of place where writers and thinkers talk about ideas, not just their own books. As Maureen Wheeler told one interviewer at this week’s announcement of the centre’s name, there were tough questions to ask before investing. But the Wheelers were very impressed with Sharp and with the concrete ideas behind it – it wasn’t, said Wheeler, the sort of ”arty” thing that says, ”Ideas, what are ideas?”

Indeed, Sharp is very pragmatic on this, noting that the recent economic downturn has provoked a lot of thinking about fundamental ethics and directions, a questioning of assumptions about endless growth and wealth. ”People from everywhere in society are interested in ideas,” she says. ”We want to take it into the town square, if you like, and bring some of our own fantastic thinkers who are in campuses around Melbourne or Australia, into a different kind of forum: where their ideas are accessible, where people get a familiarity, with not expecting it to be too high-brow, too rarefied or too boring. It’s got to be entertaining.”

The centre, housing the Melbourne Writers Festival, Victorian Writers Centre, Australian Poetry Centre and other literary organisations, was established after Melbourne won its bid for UNESCO City of Literature. It has a large performance space and workshop areas, where Sharp is planning forums that will spark debate.

”It seems I have yet to meet a person in Melbourne, especially women, who don’t belong to a book club,” she says. ”It – this city – seems to just absorb the idea of writing and the importance of books. It’s kind of a given, it seems to me. Everyone – my hairdresser! The guy who was painting the door the other day: I was sitting here talking to the chairman … and I mentioned [Orhan] Pamuk. [Later] the painter said, ‘I’m sorry, but I heard you talk about Pamuk.’ I asked him if he was Turkish; no, it was just that he and his wife lovePamuk. I love that! I was so impressed.”

She’s finding this all through Melbourne. ”It’s not just the job I’m doing: people do talk about the books they’re reading, or the ideas that they’d like to hear – they’re incredibly well informed. It is sucha writer’s place. Going out for lunch, there’s always some sort of fervent discussion about something to do with writing or books – it is a very intellectual city. Michael and I used to laugh about the fact that you’d come down from Sydney and you’d sit down to lunch and there’d be some intense” – she almost yells the word – ”argument going on. That is very Melbourne.”

There were some sour musings when Sharp’s appointment was announced last February: she, after all, is an outsider whose connection with the place had not extended much beyond holidays to aunts and grandparents here when she was a girl. Equally, though, she hadn’t set foot in Sydney until she was 16. But outsiders – she faced the same pursed lips when she took on Sadler’s Wells in London – often have the clearest view of what’s going on in a place and the sort of unsentimental temerity to get things done. She proved that at Sadler’s Wells as general manager alongside artistic director Alistair Spalding, and she looks like doing so here with her winning combination of financial and staff management, plus artistic, creative flair.

Lynch is droll about her dynamism. ”Much too much energy for my liking,” he says. ”I think she approaches life very full-on – they are lucky to have someone with the attention to detail and the energy that she brings to it. That’s going to stand the organisation in quite good stead. And she does command hugely loyal groups of people working with her. I’m not sure I would have quite had the energy at my flagging point in life to do it, but she seems to have driven herself day and night to make sure they could realise the potential of the idea.”

Lynch says he and Sharp worked amazingly hard in London. ”I dragged her to England to back me up, but she didn’t want to play dutiful wife entirely, so she took on Sadler’s Wells. I thought it was my turn to be a little more supportive and a little less demanding, with her being in this new role. Being in a new town, she has sent me out to find the house and do those sorts of things.”

While she has never worked with her husband, who has joined the ABC board, the two, he says, had one notoriously amusing conflict of interests some years ago when she was representing actors in the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance and he was running the Sydney Theatre Company.

”This was sort of indicative of her hide,” he confides, laughing. ”The actors’ union were taking industrial action against all of the major theatre companies, so she led a picket line outside one of our opening nights in Sydney. I was standing inside and she blandished kisses at me and said, ‘Come out and talk to me!’ I had to say, ‘No darling, I never cross picket lines. Even for my dear wife.’ She’s always been a feisty woman in that respect.”

SHARP grew up in a family where books were at the centre of things and she says that anyone who knows her isn’t surprised she has ended up heading a centre concerned with writing and ideas.

”My intellectual life for most of my childhood was books and music, inevitably,” she says. Her father, Ted Hannan, was a highly acclaimed professor of statistics at ANU, a man described by one biographer as ”outspoken, frequently irreverent” but ”transparently honest”.

”And my mother just loved music. My father’s interests, apart from mathematics, were very much history, biography and poetry, and it was my mother who introduced me to the whole canon of 20th-century American writers, in particular, and of Australian writers. It was very much a household that talked about books all the time. Then I went to university, started doing literature and history and ended up doing honours in history with Manning Clark, who’s very much a literary person. So books and literature and history were my forming influences.”

But she says that while it was her dream at university to become a writer, she has since found she is ” the one person who doesn’t have a novel in me.

”I realised in my early 30s, no I don’t think I have a novel to give the world, not of any great interest or importance. I am lucky having realised that at a reasonably early age – to have [since] been in positions where I can enable arts has been incredibly satisfying. I have been around enough to know that the people who do the hard work are the creators. They’re the ones that I hold on a pedestal.”

Lynch, it seems, might hold her there, though. ”Formidably smart,” he says. ”She scared me for many years on that front. She’s always been the one who’s read the books and had the brain and she’s always been a formidable person to argue, discuss or engage with. And I think she’s really thrilled [with her job]: books have always been a passion but she’s always been very good on ideas.” And at putting them into action.

A very exciting time for those of us passionate about books, writing and ideas.