ALIA Blog Article

ALIA Blog: ALIA CEO Cathie Warburton visits Queensland

ALIA CEO Cathie Warburton headed north last month to meet with ALIA Members and members of the LIS industry and to explore some of the the many fantastic institutions, resources and initiatives happening in the sunshine state. Read her highlights below. 

After touching down in Brisbane, Sue Hutley, former CEO of ALIA (before Sue McKerracher) and General Manager, Library Customer Services at Bond University, kindly picked me up from the airport on Tuesday 19 July and looked after me over my two days on the Gold Coast. First stop was to meet up with some members of the ALIA Gold Coast Group before heading to a working lunch hosted at Bond University the following day. Thank you also to University Librarian Sarah Fredline and Manager of the Law Library, Ian Edwards - we had a terrific discussion over lunch. Also in attendance were ALIA Director and Southern Cross University Librarian Clare Thorpe and representatives from VET libraries, public libraries and school libraries. Sue then gave me a tour of Bond University including the John and Alison Kearney Library



I was lucky to visit branches of the Gold Coast public library service with Melinda Buker, Manager Gold Coast Libraries. With 12 branches, a mobile library, special needs library, local studies library and corporate library – Gold Coast libraries is one of the biggest library services in Australia. Melinda is a hands on Manager – she knew everyone from the librarians to the security guards to the library assistants and was across everything from the strategic initiatives to the latest display cabinets and is pictured here participating in storytime. 

Gold Coast libraries is a big supporter of professional development for its staff with a set number of hours per week dedicated for this activity. I met Naomi Brownless, Regional Branch Librarian at Robina who has made big contributions to the library sector in her various roles and through industry organisations like QPLA and ALIA. Naomi is pictured here with Melinda in front of Robina’s ‘Hot Reads’.

I then visited Southport Library which is managed by Regional Librarian Donna (left) and also houses the Local Studies Library which is managed by Cheryl (right) pictured here in the stacks. Donna and Cheryl are living examples of what makes public libraries such welcoming spaces.

And finally the Gold Coast libraries shirt designed by staff with words representing what libraries mean to them. Couldn’t have said it better myself!     







In Brisbane I met with Nina Sprake, Manager of Brisbane City Libraries – a massive public library service with 33 branches. Nina and I had a good discussion about what is involved in managing such a large service and the benefits ALIA could provide to library staff. As a first step we plan to reach out to Brisbane City Library staff and ask them what they would like to see from ALIA. 

I visited just one of the 33 branches, Brisbane Square Library and was given a tour by librarian and Hub Team Leader, Rebecca Randle. It’s a wonderful light filled space with community meeting rooms, study areas, displays by local artists. I was so impressed by the library’s extensive collection of childrens books in other languages - they even had my childhood favourite " The Tiger who came to tea" in Spanish! Rebecca introduced me to Nicola McGeown, a librarian working at Brisbane Square who is a valued ALIA member and Convenor of the ALIA Children’s and Youth Services Group.  

I met up with Nicole Clark, University Librarian at QUT. It was great to get an understanding of the environment within which the library operates including access points for students and staff and the on campus vs online experience. Here is a great snapshot of facts and figures for the QUT Library.   

Last but not least I visited the beautiful State Library of Queensland and was given a tour by Anna Raunik, Executive Director Content Development. The building and layout works so well with a number of features to bring the outside in and to showcase architectural design and local artists. I got a sneak peak as they were setting up for the Queensland to a T exhibition – with Queensland’s stories told through tea towels! It opens on 6 August. The floors became intentionally quieter the higher up you went with the Infozone on level 1 with access to free computers, wifi and mobile phone charging stations and the John Oxley Library on Level 4 with quiet study areas and a place to access original materials for research. There was just so much to see at the library that I can’t possibly list it all here but I encourage you to pop in for a visit when you’re next in Brisbane or just go and check out the website

After my tour I attended a working lunch with the National and State Libraries of Australasia. Thank you to Barbara Lemon, NSLA Executive Officer for making it happen and NSLA Chair and Queensland State librarian Vicki McDonald for making me feel so welcome. It was a privilege to meet the heads of the various State, Territory and National libraries (although some faces were familiar from previous in person meetings – Catherine Clark and Vanessa Little). It was also good to have the opportunity to discuss ALIA’s role and the important collaboration that occurs with NSLA. I felt encouraged by the goodwill in the room and the optimism for the future.