ALIA Blog: That's a wrap for LIW 2023 

Another year, another fantastic Library and Information Week. Whilst every LIW theme is dear to our heart, this year’s theme ‘Where’s the Source?’ held a particular resonance for us here at ALIA and it was clear throughout the week that libraries across the country felt the same way.

The overall aim of the week was to spotlight the urgent need for critical literacy skills and raise awareness of the available toolbox for understanding information sources of all kinds. The continued rise and application of AI, ever-spreading mis and disinformation, waning trust in knowledge production - all of these issues are cause for concern, but the way in which the sector responded to the week’s theme was a major step in the right direction for making our communities aware of how to manage these issues.  


Images above (L to R): Social media posts from Deakin University Library, University of Adelaide Library, and Queensland University Library.

Getting Social

Libraries of all persuasions came out in force on social media to share their activities, events and displays. Academic and health libraries used the week to showcase some of their resources for recognising misinformation, services and software that assists with creating accurate citations and bibliographies, and guides for safely and accurately utilised generative AI. Some even posed the ‘quote challenge’ as a reminder to question even long-held assumptions about who said what and when.

Some of our special libraries had fun in the archive exploring the exercise of "citing your sources". The Victorian History Library, for example, asked followers to identify iconic buildings in Victoria before directing them to where they could find information about these building in the collection.

Some of our State Libraries, like the State Library of Queensland, blogged about their tools to help navigate information and avoid misinformation. The State Library of NSW took the guesswork out of finding accurate legal information and the National Library of Australia showed us how to use Trove’s built-in citation tool to cite and share research from the database (amongst many other fantastic posts throughout the week).

School libraries once again rose to the challenge sharing their remarkable displays, like this one from the St Andrew’s Cathedral School. And last but certainly not least our wonderful public libraries ran workshops, promoted resources and fact sheets, hosted LIW-themed garden parties, and ran competitions to name a mere fraction of their activities during the week.

Images above (L to R): Social media posts from PMI Victorian History Library, State Library of Queensland, State Library of NSW, Trove, Melrose High School, and Blacktown City Libraries.

Events and webinars

At the ALIA National Office we were busy running several webinars covering topics ranging from AI to First Nations representation in the sector. First up was Belinda Spry from Wikimedia Australia who led a webinar all about ‘Mythbusting Wikipedia’. Belinda took participants through the history of Wikipedia and other wiki platforms, how to edit articles, some of the challenges posted by geographical and gender bias when creating accurate citations, and how Wikipedia is being used in classrooms.

Next, the team from Squiz Kids introduced participants to their podcast ‘Newshounds’ aimed at helping kids to become critical media consumers. You can find some useful classroom activities here. At the same time, participants at the AI: Where’s the Source? webinar were learning all about data in the AI landscape - where it comes from, who owns it, how we can use it and how to safely leverage the potential of AI.

The last webinar of the week was hosted by Dr Kirsten Thorpe and Lauren Booker from the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at UTS who spoke about the importance of libraries managing Indigenous knowledges appropriately and building relationships with First Nations people to represent history respectfully.

Down in Melbourne nearly 150 attendees gathered at the State Library of Victoria for a one-day symposium on the LIW theme. Kicking off with a keynote address by ACMI Director and CEO Sebastian Chan, the day’s sessions explored the key role that libraries play in raising awareness about the possibilities and challenges of AI and how they might help people’s understanding grow alongside this evolving technology.

 And around the country, our ALIA Groups marked the week with everything from trivia nights on ‘Sourcey’ subjects to sessions on the library workforce as a ‘source of strength.’

Image right: a panel discussion at the State Library Victoria symposium.

Hearing from the Hill

The week came to a close with some inspiring and timely words on the floor of Parliament from Susan Templeman MP, Member for Macquarie. Ms Templeman began by acknowledging the timeliness of the LIW theme before going on to highlight the collections, services and inclusiveness of our public libraries, many of which are experiencing continuing threats and challenges from some members of the community with regards to items in their collections.

And on the subject of public libraries, the last day of LIW also saw the launch of our new Libraries Transform campaign -  designed to increase public awareness of the value, impact and services provided by libraries and library professionals. It includes a range of free resources to assist libraries with marketing, advocacy, outreach activities and more.

And finally, let us not forget the pins. You can still order our custom ‘Where’s the Source?’ pins from the ALIA Shop. Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Library and Information Week. We truly could not do it without you.

Webinar recordings 

Mythbusting Wikipedia: Misinformation, AI and Volunteers 

Helping kids become critical media consumers