ALIA Blog: a visit to the Northern Territory 

 On Monday April 17th, ALIA CEO, Cathie Warburton and the newly appointed ALIA Regional Engagement Manger (REM), Emily Wilson were on Larrakia country to engage with library and information professionals in Australia’s Top End.  
On a warm, sunny day, deemed by locals to be the first of the dry season, we headed to the City of Palmerston, approximately 20 kilometers from Darwin. Situated on Goyder Square, with the landmark water storage tank towering nearby, the Palmerston Public Library was bustling with library users there to browse the shelves, use computers, speak with the energetic library staff, and enjoy the air-conditioning.  
A big thanks to City of Palmerston’s General Manager, Community and Culture, Anna Ingram and Library Services Manager, Aimee Hay, for taking the time to show us around and provide insights into the successes, challenges and opportunities for library service delivery in the Territory. 
An important issue that emerged here and resonated in conversations throughout the day was that of library safety. Libraries are not the quiet spaces of the stereotype; they are public places with all the risks that come with that. The libraries we spoke to have a high understanding of the challenges of working in a public facing role; and provided training, formal policies, and open communication to assist staff in being prepared to handle issues should they arise, along with prevention strategies. All of this, whilst still working under the principle that libraries are for everyone, and without wanting to create barriers for access.  
Our next stop was Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Casuarina Campus - CDU's largest study location and the main hub for Higher Education, TAFE, and Research programs. Here we were given a tour of the campus library by Acting Associate Director Client Experience, Bernadette Royal, before meeting staff for cool drinks - to hear about their work and answer their ALIA related questions.  
We then travelled to Casuarina Library, which is one of four library branches in the City of Darwin. We were here on the invitation of Executive Manager Library and Family Services, Lynette Loone as the Library’s ‘STEAM Team’ was hosting a professional development event that evening.   
The Casuarina PD event consisted of 4 stations, allowing attendees to play and learn. These were:  
Virtual Reality - Oculus headsets with Ocean Rift a VR aquatic safari park, where users could interact with underwater life in an immersive virtual world.  
Osmo – physical game pieces to play digital games, that teach math, reading, coding skills and more through play.  
Robots – Ozobot a tiny programmable robot that recognises lines and are a simple start to coding using drawing; and Indi robots that recognise colours and are easy to program using their silicone mats. 
STEAM Zone Kits –These kits included a range of materials, such as books, games, and activities, that cover a variety of STEAM-related topics. Those featured were the Backyard Botanist and Backyard Biologist, which included resources such as a digital camera, Bioviewer slidoscope and tools. There was also the new Metal Detector and Pin pointer from the soon to be released Metal Detecting Kit.


Read more here.  
This professional development event also provided the ALIA CEO with opportunity to announce the rekindling of an ALIA Group in the region. With a name still being developed, this ALIA Group will be a cross-sectoral Group for GLAM practitioners in the Top End — providing opportunity for informal professional development events, networking, and collaboration with likeminded people. The Group is being convened by dynamic Darwin locals Stacey Rosser and Sarah Doecke and will soon have a social media and web presence and a mailing list.  If you’d like to be put in touch before then, please contact the ALIA REM.  
A networking dinner in Nightcliff was then enjoyed, as further opportunity for Darwin library locals to connect with the ALIA visitors. Here we watched the sun set on what was a full and interesting day engaging with library professionals, building connections, and discussing ways that ALIA can continue to support and advocate for Top End libraries and staff. 



Top row L-R

City of Palmerston Library - library building and Goyder Square

Anna Ingram (City of Palmerston, General Manager Community and Culture), Aimee Hay (City of Palmerston, Library Services Manager) , Emily Wilson (ALIA REM)

Palmerston book bag

Middle row L - R

Charles Darwin University - Emily Wilson (ALIA REM), Lisa Ban, Tamarzon Larner, Tara Burton, Cathy Warburton (ALIA CEO), Asia Dziedzic, Bernadette Royal and Iftikhar Hayat

Charles Darwin University's Casuarina campus

Stacey Rosser (Casuarina Library) promoting the new ALIA Group 

Bottom row L - R

Casuarina Library STEAM event. Loanable kits

Library sector networking dinner - Sandra Leal, Aimee Hay, Cathie Warburton, Patrick Gregory, Bernadette Royal, Suzie Gately, Stephen Gately, Lynette Loone, Stacey Rosser, Kalina Zarycka-Kusiak, Emily Wilson, Darcy Baggley, Joanne Scott