ALIA Blog: ALIA in Melbourne

The ALIA Regional Engagement Manager (REM), Emily Wilson, spent three days (October 22-24) in Narrm on the lands of the Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung people, visiting libraries, ALIA members and industry partners.

Once in Melbourne it was only a short train ride to Prahran, for the ALIA Victoria Group’s event at the wonderful PMI Victorian History Library. This ‘On the Subject of Headings’ panel discussion covered practical, theoretical, and historical issues about the use of subject headings in libraries, the benefits of thesauri and the controlled vocabularies available in Homosaurus, ScOT and AustLang. We heard from:

  • Clare O'Hanlon who is a user and enthusiast for Homosaurus
  • Renate Beilharz from the Schools Catalogue Information Service
  • Dorie Kurtz a Cataloguing Policy Specialist at the Library of Congress, and
  • Anthony McLaughlin Assistant Director, Descriptive Metadata and Cataloguing who works with the AIATSIS AustLang group

A recording of the panel discussion was made and will be on the ALIA VIC YouTube channel soon.

This event also included the presentation of ALIA Pins by ALIA President Jane Cowell. Congratulations again to James Baker, Michael Barry, Ellen Coates, Timothy Gillis-Jones, Jade Koekoe, Iurgi Urrutia, Karyn Siegmann and Laurie Atkinson.

Photos above (L to R): The ALIA VIC Committee - Michael Barry, Ellen Coates, Jade Koekoe, Timothy Gillis-Jones and James Baker; The 'On the Subject of Headings’ Panel - Renate Beilharz, Clare O'Hanlon and Anthony McLaughlin

The following day I caught the train out to Ivanhoe to meet Jane Cowell in her role as CEO of Yarra Plenty Regional Library (YPRL).  Jane provided a tour of the Ivanhoe Library & Cultural Hub (ILCH) to me and to Zola Maddison (ALIA Director of Events & Training). This modern library opened in 2021, it spans multiple floors, has flexible and creative spaces and sweeping city views. With galleries, artist studios and a theatrette as well as the library, the ILCH is a welcoming community centered creative hub. We caught part of the children's Storytime session, and I took advantage of the library as a workspace before heading back to the Melbourne CBD.  

Photos above (L to R): The foyer of the ILCH; A ‘home harvest seed library’ in the ILCH; Emily Wilson (ALIA REM), Jane Cowell (ALIA President & CEO YPRL) and Zola Maddison (ALIA Director of Events & Training); Paula Kelly Paull (RAECO Leader – Growth & Development) and Emily Wilson (ALIA REM)

Photos above (L to R): Zola Maddison (ALIA Director of Events & Training) and Jane Cowell (ALIA President & CEO YPRL) in the ILCH ‘Loft 275’ gallery space for Banyule-based artists; The archives room of The Melbourne Athenaeum Library, which was my mid-morning workspace

The following day I swung by to see the build progress of the new narrm ngarrgu Library in the heart of Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market precinct. It opens in November and will include a library across three levels, a family services centre and rooftop terrace. I can’t wait to visit next time I’m in Melbourne, this library will improve access for residents, workers, students and visitors in the city’s inner north and activate the growing precinct.

I was welcomed to the The Melbourne Athenaeum Library by James Baker (from the ALIA VIC and ALIA Graphic Committees) and was allowed to use their archives room for a video conference. The Athenaeum Library is an oasis of calm in the otherwise busy Melbourne city.

Photos above (L to R): The new narrm ngarrgu Library and community hub in the heart of the Queen Victoria Market precinct opens in November

My final visit was to RAECO, who are generously sponsoring the inaugural SALIAs Awards Night and an ALIA NSW End of Year Celebration. We spoke about library design and sustainable practices, and I was invited to take part in a ‘Librarians on the Couch’ conversation with Paula Kelly Paull, RAECO’s Leader – Growth & Development.

Thank you Melbourne, I hope to be back in 2024.

Photos left: Emily Wilson (ALIA REM) on the set of ‘Librarians on the Couch’ at RAECO


Emily Wilson
Regional Engagement Manager