ALIA National 2024 Wrap Up

Thank you to ALIA VIC for the footage from the Kathleen Syme Library on 21/05/2024

Four speakers generously condensed their conference presentations across a range of topics relating to Librarianship and the GLAMR sector in general.

The first presentation was Unlocking knowledge beyond Deakin, empowering communities with strategic search skills initiatives, by Meg Bullock, a Client Experience Librarian at Deakin University.

The presentation focused upon the intersection of search skills for Librarians and the development of Generative AI models. With a cautious encouragement of adoption, and with recognition of the importance of the technology and its disruption to traditional ways of working, learning and researching, Generative AI can be a useful tool for Librarians. There are clear parallels between search strategies prompt engineering, and VALA held a two-hour workshop on this subject in 2023. Deakin Library have also created the GenAI and Study Hub to develop awareness and skills via three modules of GenAI Basics, Limitations and Prompts. The modules have been developed to emphasise technical proficiency, critical thinking, ethical research practices and the cultivation of a healthy scepticism to information found online and through Gen AI usage and are licenced under creative commons to encourage community use.

Librarians are perfectly placed with pre-existing skillsets to excel at prompt engineering, but also to lead work across local and industry levels to guide others, empower students, colleagues, and communities in adapting to using generative AI in an everchanging information world.

The second presentation was: Future Focus service models for public libraries from Bayside Libraries in Melbourne, presented by Karen Reiter and Trevor Mackay. Two service model projects were shared, with the goal of increased access to library services without impacting on current staffing levels. These projects were the installation of library lockers and out of hours access at the Hampton Library branch. The integration of other community hubs and services to expand the geographic reach of Bayside Libraries was a part of the covid recovery project to increase community engagement with Bayside Libraries. To this end, the lockers provided an option for users to self-borrow 24/7, which increased the volume of stock and service access options available. 24/7 access into Hampton Library due to supporting people WFH was also successfully deployed, and both of these projects together leveraged other council offering and their successes, across multiple age groups for the community. Details to the project and changes within the scope of the project were provided, which give a unique insight into the project management process within the Library sector, and the measurable benefits of which will continue to be enjoyed by the Bayside Libraries. Coupled with the success of similar projects conducted at Richmond Library (City of Yarra) and Mirboo North Library (South Gippsland), the benefits to both staff and users are clear, and provide a model for other Libraries moving forwards.

The third presentation was: Australian Radical community libraries and archives: opposition and interplay; presented by Romany Manuell from the Australian Council for Educational Research. Romany began by answering the question of why radical libraries are important, and how to define radical libraries as opposed to traditional libraries. To quote Angie Dunn and the volunteers at the Commons Library: “Radical, alternative and community libraries are important because they provide access to knowledge, promote inclusivity and empowerment, foster critical thinking and activism, build community, and challenge dominant narratives. They serve as vital resources for social and political change.” So too, these libraries provide opportunities for access to the industry for new professionals.

Romany further provided examples of radical libraries in Australia, including the following:

Thanks to Angie Dunn for compiling.

The fourth presentation was: Impact on belonging: understanding trauma within GLAMR presented by Kirsten Wright, Melbourne University. Kirsten began with understanding the need to centre people in the archives, rather than the records. Alarming statistics from a 2022 report completed by Kirsten Wright and Nicola Laurent highlighted the prevalence of trauma – over 50% respondents shared they had vicarious trauma via working in archives, while 68% responded exposure to content they found distressful or traumatic. Clearly, the GLAMR sector as a whole has a duty of care to respond to these issues via trauma informed practice.

What is trauma informed practice?

  • Strengths based and collaborative
  • Does not change what your organisation does, but how it does it.
  • Based upon the principles of safety, trust and transparency, collaboration, choice and empowerment.
  • Safety is the foundational principle upon which the others sit
  • By following these principles and developing robust strategies in consultation with those who have experience trauma, an environment that is safe and affirming for everyone is created.

These principles are broadly applicable across not just archives but the entirety of the GLAMR sector.

  • Using trauma informed practice in GLAM organisations:
    • How well is the organisation meeting these principles, and what changes need to be made to ensure the principles are met – all levels of staff must be involved. Being aware of what difficulties people may have in engaging with the organisation.
    • The building, the way collections are worked on, the website, providing access to collections, reference service, collection policies and exhibitions
  • Support:
    • Top three support mechanisms wanted: training, counselling, peer support.
    • Top three support providers wanted: formal support through workplaces, professional associations, informal support through workplaces.
  • Archive resources for trauma support:
    • Australian society of archivists – online course and workshop, support page on the ASA website about vicarious trauma
    • Trauma informed archives community of practice
    • Archives and record association UK and Ireland: emotional support guides
    • Society of American Archivists: documenting in times of crisis, a resource kit
    • Responding to vicarious trauma: International Council on Archives


Resources specific to libraries are primarily coming from the USA, which shows the conversation is in its infancy in Australia.



ALIA VIC (2024, May). ALIA National 2024 Wrapup [Video]. YouTube

Australian Society of Archivists. (n.d). About

Deakin University. (2023), GenAI and study hub

Dunn, A. (n.d). List of Radical, Alternative and Community Libraries.

Hagelin,K. (2020). Moving Towards Healing: A Trauma-Informed Librarianship Primer.

International Council on Archives. (n.d). Understanding the international landscape of trauma and archives -report.

Urban Librarians Unite. (2022). Urban Library Trauma Study Final Report

VALA. (2023). Victorian Association for Library Automation.




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