ALIA Blog Article

ALIA Blog: It's a wrap - National Conference 2022

Wednesday 25 May: With more than 500 attendees across three days of panels, keynote sessions, lightning talks, workshops, networking events and more, our National Conference came to a close on Thursday 19 May, and what a week it was.

Check out our mid-Conference wrap for a rundown or the first day and a half of festivities.

Our second day ended with one of the most anticipated keynote sessions ‘Diverse Journeys’ featuring musician, music teacher, ABC Classic radio presenter and writer Ed Le Brocq, writer, speaker and online influencer Carly Findlay OAM and writer and editor for the independent feminist journal Feminartsy Zoya Patel.

The session focused on the urgent need for all people to be able to share their own stories in their own voice and issued a call for individuals and institutions alike to provide space for diverse narratives, truths, discourses and experiences to be expressed, represented and heard.

All three panellists touched on the role that libraries play in this endeavour: from Ed le Brocq’s account of how his local library growing up (attached to Charles Darwin’s former school, no less!) allowed his mother to expose him and his siblings to literature and art, to Carly Findlay’s description of the library and its contents as a refuge and means of endurance, to Zoya Patel’s remark that libraries can help those from marginalised or underrepresented communities – especially those from diaspora communities – to see themselves in stories.

Following this powerful address was the much-anticipated Autumn Ball, our official annual Conference dinner. Delegates enjoyed the evening, relaxing, chatting and some even took to the dance floor.


The final day kicked off with the keynote address from Dion Devow founder of Darkies Design, ACT Australian of the Year (2018), ACT NAIDOC Person of the Year (2016) and ACT NAIDOC Business Person of the Year (2014). Dion’s address focused on language and culture and the need to embrace and connect to our First Nations story tellers as a community. He urged delegates to keep asking questions - questions that lead to understanding and certainty – and to start making the types of changes that enable inclusivity and cultural safety, beginning with learning the Acknowledgment of Country in language and including Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander flags in library spaces.

In between the day’s keynote sessions were a variety of panels focussed on Australian Reading Hour, inclusive storytimes, YA publishing and bookselling in

Australia, robotics and coding in Australian libraries, The Victorian Big Summer Read, multilingualism and digitally inclusive services, Greening Libraries, and much more. One of the last sessions of the day, ‘A gift of bibliotherapy for library workers’ had delegates soothed and centred before heading into the final keynote for the event delivered by singer-songwriter and NSS2022 book author Josh Pyke.

Josh spoke about his work with the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, his motivation for writing the book Family Tree, his collaboration with the book’s illustrator Ronojoy Ghosh, and what we can learn from children and their unquestioning acceptance of diverse people and cultures. “The last couple of years has really highlighted the importance and value of community and family, no matter what that family looks like” Josh told us. “When I look at my children, in my mind, I see a map with lines drawn from Vietnam, Britain, America and Denmark, all leading to our home in Australia.”

We were then lucky enough to hear some music with live performances of the hit song ‘The Summer’ and a special audience-participation rendition of ‘Words can make the world go round’, a song penned by Josh, Deborah Cheetham and Justine Clarke, along with a group of students from Sydney's Gawura School, especially for Indigenous Literacy Day in 2016.

Thank you to all our delegates, Chairs, panellists, sponsors, exhibitors, and events team who made this such a memorable, productive and inspiring event. The positivity in the room, the optimism about the future of the sector – and of course, the joy of once again being able to meet in-person - was palpable.