Originally posted October 17, 2015
I had the privilege of being the keynote speaker at the New Norcia Library Lecture on Friday 9 October 2015. I gave the first Library Lecture in 1993, so this was the second time I had the privilege. The annual New Norcia Library Lecture is now firmly established on the Western Australian library calendar. This year’s lecture attracted around eighty, mostly librarians, most of whom travelled the 140km from Perth for the day. Some travelled much further, including one from Sandstone (700km) and another from Karratha (twice as far) – their long trips evidence of the massive distances between settlements in this sparsely populated state. The monks were also there in force, apparently having decided they wanted to hear about digital stuff.
The day began with a welcome and prayer from the Abbot, not the usual way to start a library event. My keynote address ‘Finding, losing and misreading digital stuff: new roles for libraries’, examined how archives theory and practice is useful to librarians who are digitizing and managing digital materials. The three other speakers were Lesley DuBois who described how Karratha public libraries have been renewed, Lynne Vautier on the Curtin University Library’s refurbishment, and Dinesh Burah on library services to the blind and visually impaired. All those attending enjoyed a generous lunch with wine, typical Benedictine fare, and visits to two displays in New Norcia’s Education Centre.
For attendees, does the day offer value? It’s a long day for most, with an early start to drive from Perth. The answer seems to be yes, given this event has continued for twenty-two years now. It is an opportunity for librarians in Western Australia to get together – and remember that these librarians are often based in remote locations and do not have the chance to meet other professionals very often. As with so many other seminars, meetings and conferences, the principal value lies in who you meet and talk to, not in what the presenters said or showed.
I can give an example. I met Dom Christopher Power again, who introduced me to Marina Baker, the Museum Collections Manager. Marina showed me the Abbey Press setup (I’ve published articles about New Norcia’s music publishing activities so was very interested) and I was reminded again of the unique history of this extraordinary place.
I was pleased to be back at this special place, to meet former colleagues, to meet new ones, and to catch up with developments in the Benedictine community.
If you are in Perth in October you should definitely plan to attend the New Norcia Library Lecture.