Library Lovers Bookclub this Sunday

Our next event is a Bookclub this Sunday afternoon! It’s the best kind of bookclub as you’re not even required to have read the books! (but if you have, that’s also good)

The Canberra Library Tribe invites readers, library lovers and GLAMR staff and students are all invited to join local author L.J.M. Owen to discuss her Canberra-based crime fiction series ‘Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth’. With archaeologists and librarians, ancient murder and family secrets, this is one series where the skeletons don’t stay buried.

Book covers for Owen's #DrPimms series
#DrPimms, I presume

The book(s)

We’ll explore the historical research behind the first book in the series, ‘Olmec Obituary’, and L.J. will introduce – spoiler free – the history behind the second instalment ‘Mayan Mendacity’. There’ll be plenty of time to discuss your ideas about the themes, settings, characters and plot of ‘Olmec Obituary’ as well as ask questions of the author.

‘Olmec Obituary’ is available at a number of libraries in the ACT region and copies may be purchased from the National Library Bookshop. Arrangements may also be made via the Canberra Library Tribe for informal loan of personal copies.

Prize pack

There’s a prize pack up for grabs for the best question asked on the day: a collector’s set of all three editions of ‘Olmec Obituary’. All participants will also leave with a small gift pack of book-related items.

When and where

The Library Lovers Bookclub is on Sunday 13 November, 1pm till 2:30pm.

We’ll meet in the Ferguson Room, upstairs from the National Library foyer (it’s the glass room above the bookshop).

Second book in #DrPimms series
Mayan Mendacity!

Cost and tickets

The event is FREE, but please RSVP as places are limited. Tickets via eventbrite or facebook.


Gold coin donations gratefully received. All money collected will be donated to a worthy cause.

With special thanks to the National Library of Australia.

Other questions

  • There won’t be snacks, but you can buy take-away coffees and the like from Bookplate cafe.
  • Please get in touch if you need help with carpooling. Otherwise, there are buses that stop close by the Library or at Albert Hall. Bike racks are near the ramp to the library.

About the author

Dr L.J.M. Owen, author of the ‘Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth’ series, escapes dark and shadowy days as a public servant by exploring the comparatively lighter side of life: murder, mystery and forgotten women’s history.

Recipes in the series are tested under strict feline supervision.

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Year-end Gala-h

Flocking together to celebrate another year!
An event for GLAMR-types & GLAMR-workers & GLAMR-students, etc.

Join us on Sunday 13 December, 1pm – 3pm.

Tickets are free (RSVP via eventbrite or our facebook event listing), but you might like to buy a drink, all-day brunch or some books while we’re enjoying the space.

We will also be selling raffle tickets towards a good cause (more details to follow).

Poster showing details for Canberra Library Tribe's Year-end Gala-h.
I said Gala-h, love!

Full FAQs are included on the eventbrite listing and our facebook event listing (they cover ID, transport, special diets and more).

The most important FAQ, though is: What is GLAMR? Am I GLAMR?

GLAMR: Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, Records [Management].

You are GLAMR if you’re working in the sector, studying in this field, or a GLAMR-lover. GLAMR glitter!

See you there!

Image credit:

“galahs 1” image with thanks to Flickr photographer Jim Bendon:
“A long shot of 2 galahs very late in the day. The pink just lights up in the late light”

Volunteering with the National Library of Australia: interview with Margaret Goode

This post is part of our short series of interviews with people who volunteer in the GLAMR industry (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, Records). The series began with our participation in #blogjune, but there are too many remarkable volunteers, places and stories to restrict them to just one month!

These stories will highlight the profusion of volunteering opportunities across Canberra, and showcase our local volunteer heroes. You can also find out how to volunteer!

Our sixteenth interviewee is Margaret Goode, who volunteers for the National Library of Australia.

Moore sculpture at the Library (photo by Damian McDonald)
Moore sculpture outside the Library (photo by Damian McDonald)

Tell us about you and your National Library of Australia volunteer role…

I began volunteering at the National Library several years ago when I was phasing down my consulting business. I began by doing Treasures Gallery and Behind-the-Scenes tours and by undertaking weekend shifts on the foyer information desk.

As I reduced paid work it seems I increased projects at the National Library, commencing the practice of forming small research teams to prepare guides for the library’s exhibitions. We also set up small teams to make a big hit in a short time on projects that library staff will never get to. Currently small teams are working on the Australian theatre programs, rehousing and listing them and entering holdings information on to a shared national database called AusStage.

What are the benefits of volunteering with the National Library?

The public benefit is that the volunteers get a lot of work done for the Library that wouldn’t otherwise be done.

The benefit to me is the satisfaction of doing something productive and the social contact in a very pleasant millieu, providing the contact with the world outside home that working used to give me.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your volunteer role?

The volunteer work is absorbing, and educative in that I learn a lot of things that I mightn’t otherwise explore.

A big difference from the working life is that while you are responsible for doing work properly when you’re at the Library, there is no management responsibility staying with you when you walk out the door to go home. That is very, very nice.

And the volunteers in the Library staff are really delightful, varied, interesting and good spirited to people, in other words lovely people to be with. The library staff are wonderful to the volunteers, and vice versa, and no harm comes from people being nice to each other.

Volunteers at the National Library can choose to provide exhibition tours, behind-the-scenes tours or assist the public at the Foyer Information Desk (FID). How did you choose your tour specialisations and projects?

I guess it is a combination of what my background would make me suited to and what the Library needs at any particular time.

Do you have a favourite insight into the library or a library secret that you could share?

The National Library is a place where the starting point for interaction is goodwill. On the front desk, for example, when you tell people that exhibitions, tours and kids activities are free they are amazed and delighted. Some people don’t expect a free good, and do value them when they receive one.

How do people express interest to volunteer with the National Library?

The National Library offers a range of volunteer roles – assisting the public at the Foyer Information Desk, welcoming visitors, providing guided tours or behind-the-scenes doing dedicated project work.

You can find out more about how to apply for the Volunteer Program on the National Library’s Become a volunteer webpage.

Volunteering with Canberra Archaeological Society: interview with Steve Skitmore

This post is part of our short series of interviews with people who volunteer in the GLAMR industry (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, Records). The series began with our participation in #blogjune, but there are too many magnificent volunteers, places and stories to restrict them to just one month!

These stories will highlight the abundance of volunteering opportunities across Canberra, and showcase our local volunteer heroes. You can also find out how to volunteer!

Our fifteenth interviewee is Steve Skitmore, who volunteers with the Canberra Archaeological Society (CAS).

Steve Skitmore, CAS volunteer
Steve Skitmore, CAS volunteer

Tell us about you and your CAS volunteer role…

When I first volunteered for CAS last year, I actually didn’t realise it was with them! I moved to Canberra just over a year ago to study a Master of Archaeological Science at ANU, and as soon as I arrived I tried to throw myself into all the projects and opportunities that were available. I knew Lucy, the President of CAS, and she had asked if I could help out doing some ground penetrating radar surveying on Springbank Island. Springbank is in the middle of Lake Burley Griffin and we were trying to see if we could detect the remains of the old homestead there. Needless to say, by the end of the week, I knew a lot about CAS (and how to push around a radar machine)! My role in the society is pretty informal, I help out where I can with organising events and the like.

What are the benefits of volunteering with CAS?

Well, there are lots! You get to talk about exciting new developments in archaeology with the public, see kids faces light up as they help out uncover artefacts on public excavations, connect with experts who are breaking new ground in dating objects and tracing ancient DNA.

The biggest one though is that you are connecting with those people in Canberra who know the most about its history. People often think of Canberra as this place with only 100 years of history that would be great if only it was a little more like Melbourne or Sydney. Well, when you volunteer with CAS you’re working alongside Traditional Owners whose ancestors have lived on this land for over 20,000 years. That’s a mind-bogglingly huge amount of time. Working with them, you get to explore the hidden histories written in the scarred trees and grinding grooves, places that people look at every day, but don’t really see.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your volunteer role?

It’s definitely being able to get out into the field, and not being stuck in the lab all the time! In the last couple of months, I’ve helped organise a community archaeology dig where the public can come along and learn from the pros, and have run a stand at the National Science Week with replica human skulls and some stone tools for people to play with. Also, maybe I’m a bit mean, but I also love bursting people’s bubbles about what archaeologists actually do. Everyone wanted to be an archaeologist when they were young right? Follow Indiana Jones and Lara Croft on their treasure hunts, or find dinosaurs? Sad to say guys, but we don’t find treasure and don’t look for dinosaurs!

What’s the next thing you’re organising?

Apart from the monthly seminars that we hold at the ANU, we’ve got a field trip on tomorrow (17th October) to learn how to locate and record Aboriginal grinding grooves in Gungahlin. Everyone is welcome to come along, registration information is on CAS’ facebook page.

Do you have a favourite moment from site excavations or the CAS/CAR (Centre for Archaeology) evening lecture series?

The community open day for the Springbank Island project has got to be my favourite so far. We had a couple of hundred people come out to the island on a lovely Saturday morning and we got them down in the trenches to get their hands dirty. My favourite moment was teaching a young girl to scrape back mud and dirt with a trowel to uncover artefacts, whilst she was decked out in bright pink fairy dress and wings! She loved it, but I’m not sure her parents were that impressed.

How do people express interest to volunteer with CAS?

We welcome anyone from the Canberra region who has an interest in archaeology, no experience required! The best thing to do it head along to the CAS website or Facebook page to find out about our upcoming events.

Volunteering with Canberra Contemporary Art Space: interview with Sharon Gallagher

This post is part of our short series of interviews with people who volunteer in the GLAMR industry (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, Records). The series began with our participation in #blogjune, but there are too many magnificent volunteers, places and stories to restrict them to just one month!

These stories will highlight the abundance of volunteering opportunities across Canberra, and showcase our local volunteer heroes. You can also find out how to volunteer!

Our fourteenth interviewee is artist, Shags (aka Sharon Gallagher), who volunteers with CCAS (Canberra Contemporary Art Space).

Canberra Contemporary Art Space is a space in which contemporary artists can develop daring new work. There are three CCAS gallery spaces in Canberra which host exhibitions by local, national and international artists. CCAS offers opportunities for networking and collaboration, while introducing audiences to exciting new ideas and media.

Shags, CCAS volunteer
Shags, CCAS volunteer

Tell us about you and your CCAS volunteer role…

As part of my mid-life crisis (or is that ‘peak in the all-life crisis’?) I decided to enrol in Printmedia and Drawing at the ANU School of Art. As part of a Professional Practices unit, we had to undertake either a residency in a high-school or do an internship somewhere of our choosing. Not being confident that I could wrangle a grunt of teenagers; and because the CCAS staff laughed at my dumb jokes when I first met them, I figured I may as well be among people who didn’t seem to take themselves too seriously. Fortunately, they took me in.

After my required time was up, I asked if I could stay on as a volunteer. Well, I must have dazzled them with my wit*, because they said yes.

*I can’t back this up.

What are the benefits of volunteering with CCAS? 

The international glory?

Seriously though, there are a number of benefits:

1. As I attempt to transition into an arts career, this real world experience will no doubt be invaluable. I’ve learnt all manner of skills. For example, how to hang lights (and stay on a ladder); that the bubble-side of bubble wrap goes on the outside of artwork; if you sit the gallery, the public expects you to be the local arts expert; what artists do as other jobs; what else an arts organisation does to stay relevant and engaged with the community; how much time and effort goes into organising an exhibition. This list goes on.

2. As a practicing artist, I understand what I can do to make life easier for a gallery; what’s important in an exhibition proposal (good documentation!); I get to practice talking about art; I feel more included in the arts community. This list goes on too. I’ve really learnt a lot just by having my ears in the room.

3. The quiet pride in knowing you’re helping an organisation, that you inherently care about, to succeed.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your volunteer role?

I just really like hanging out with the people who work there; they’re delightful, hardworking, multi-skilled, driven, charming nutters.

A close second is de-installing and packing up exhibitions, prepping the walls and installing the next show.

Was there anything that surprised you when you first started at CCAS?

The volume of work they get through with good humour.

Last year CCAS had 32 exhibitions at the Gormon Arts Centre (GAC) and Manuka. Now that the City space opened earlier this year, CCAS will have 41 shows in it’s 2016 exhibition program (pause to think about that. That’s A LOT!). This of course means: drafting contracts, liaison with artists/galleries/couriers, de-install/install, catalogue essay writing and design, marketing, organising and attending openings, doing their social pages wrap-ups, to name a few things.

On top of this, they also (take a breath here) write funding proposals, do budgeting, report back to their funding bodies, manage the members base, member emails, social media, organise resident recipients, host events and school groups, give advice on proposals, do archiving, keep statistics, attend other organisations’ openings, they’ve just set up corporate partnership … there are only three full time staff!

To help with all of this and more, they have a bookkeeper, an installation guru and two volunteers.

Do you have a favourite exhibition that’s been held at CCAS?

Oh my. There have been so many great exhibitions held in all their spaces. However, my favourite by far was Monster at the GAC in 2013 by the mind-blowing printmaker and pioneer, Erica Seccombe.

How do people express interest to volunteer with CCAS?

Firstly, ask yourself some questions: Do I actually like contemporary art? What am I hoping to learn? Why this particular arts organisation and not another? Am I certain that I can turn up when I say I will? Do I understand it’s not all about wine and cheese cubes at openings? (i.e. I’m ok with scanning old catalogues or filling in statistical spreadsheets).

Once you’ve done that, head over to their website for information about duties, benefits, requirements and who to contact.

Volunteering with ACT Heritage Library: interview with Michael Hall

This post is part of our short series of interviews with people who volunteer in the GLAMR industry (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, Records). The series began with our participation in #blogjune, but there are too many remarkable volunteers, places and stories to restrict them to just one month!

These stories will highlight the profusion of volunteering opportunities across Canberra, and showcase our local volunteer heroes. You can also find out how to volunteer!

Our thirteenth interviewee is Michael Hall who volunteers for the ACT Heritage Library (we previously interviewed another of their volunteers, too).

Michael Hall, editing the ACT Memorial database
Michael Hall, editing the ACT Memorial database

Tell us about you and your ACT Heritage Library volunteer role…

I started in 2006 working on the ACT Memorial website which commemorates Territorians who have served in wars and on humanitarian and peacekeeping missions from the Boer War to Afghanistan. As a local historian I had already been researching Territorians who had served in World War 1 and had provided names for the ACT Memorial for that conflict in 2006. Since then I have been adding and updating names for the Memorial and researching the stories of the individuals who are commemorated on the website. Over the years I’ve written numerous stories which the ACT Heritage Library has published on its ‘Stories from the ACT Memorial’ website.

What are the benefits of volunteering with ACT Heritage Library? 

Access to the wonderful resources of the ACT Heritage Library; its books, photos, maps, ephemera and collections and the support of the Library in publishing the fruits of my research.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your volunteer role?

Being able to tell the stories of individuals who have served their community and to have them available to the public. In particular, being able to help the families of those people on the Memorial tell their stories.

How did you choose the subject matter or which archives to work on? Do you need to be a specialist in that area?

In 2001 I was helping put together a booklet on the naming ceremony for Canberra (which occurred on 12 March 1913) as part of the Canberra & District Historical Society’s commemoration of the centenary of Federation. Looking at images and film taken on the day I became curious about the people attending the ceremony and the soldiers and light horsemen on parade. The naming ceremony was two and bit years short of the Gallipoli landings and I wanted to know if any of those present served in the war. There is very little material about the local involvement in World War 1 so I began searching. Having a solid knowledge of local history was an advantage.

Do you have a favourite insight from the archives or collections that you work with in your volunteer role?

People seem to think that Canberra has little history. ‘The Road to Peronne’, one of the ‘Stories from the ACT Memorial’ on the ACT Heritage Library website, is about a World War 1 soldier, George Potter, who sacrificed himself to save his mates. He lived across the road from where I grew up. Sometimes history can be very local.

How do people express interest to volunteer with ACT Heritage Library?

Formally, by applying to the Librarian in writing, including a resume and reasons for wanting to work in the Heritage Library. This allows the Librarian to match individual skills to the current set of tasks available.

Volunteering with the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House: interview with Sylvia Marchant

This post is part of our short series of interviews with people who volunteer in the GLAMR industry (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, Records). The series began with our participation in #blogjune, but there are too many lovely volunteers, places and stories to restrict them to just one month!

These stories will highlight the bounty of volunteering opportunities across Canberra, and showcase our local volunteer heroes. You can also find out how to volunteer!

Our twelfth interviewee is Dr Sylvia Marchant, who volunteers with the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House (MoAD OPH).

Sylvia, MoAD OPH volunteer
Sylvia, MoAD OPH volunteer

Tell us about you and your Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) volunteer role…

I am a retired public servant and a historian. My role at the Museum is to guide visitors around the building and explain its history and functions. It is a very interesting building with a rich history featuring Australian politics and fascinating personalities. This makes it possible to shape the story to suit the different visitors who can be either very knowledgeable or unfamiliar with Australia’s history such as visitors from other countries. I also take part in the Oral History programme which involves the recording of interviews with people having personal knowledge or experience of Old Parliament House, particularly during the years when it was Australia’s Parliament.

Over the years management has broadened its focus especially with the introduction of the Museum of Democracy which has greatly enriched the experience at Old Parliament House.

What are the benefits of volunteering with MoAD?

The pleasure of introducing people to the charismatic old building and enjoying their positive responses and also of being part of such an interesting institution plus working with motivated and lively colleagues and staff. Regular training programs are another benefit where volunteers are introduced to the work of the professional staff of the Museum such as Curators, historians and heritage management, which keeps us up-to-date with developments and programmes.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your volunteer role?

Interacting with visitors of such a varied backgrounds and ages and enjoying the beneficial ambience of the building itself.

Do you have a favourite anecdote or secret about Old Parliament House or a display at MoAD?

I find the display of the replica Crown Jewels in the Office of the President of the Senate the most fascinating with its glitter and splendour. It is such a contrast to the elegant simplicity of the building itself and a gentle reminder Australia’s British heritage.

How do people express interest to volunteer with MoAD?

Volunteers are recruited on a needs basis, usually through a bulk recruitment that is advertised beforehand. However expressions of interest in our volunteer program are always welcome and can be made by contacting the Volunteers Coordinator on (02) 6270 8146 or email. Volunteers are inducted with an intensive and varied training programme over four weeks.