ALIA Blog: ALIA in the West

The ALIA Regional Engagement Manager, Emily Wilson, spent a busy two days (June 6-7) on the lands of the Whadjuk Nyoongar people, visiting libraries and ALIA members in the Perth and Fremantle area.  

My first library visit was the TL Robertson Library at Curtin University. Recently re-opened after refurbishment (and complete transformation), the building has become a place for digital innovation and social collaboration. Every floor was buzzing with student activity, with spaces to facilitate quiet study, knowledge sharing, research, and rest and recreation. Curtin Library Technician (Library Client Engagement), and ALIA West Group Convenor, Nicola Carson was my host and guide, and Deputy Director, Learning, Research, Engagement & Global, Kate Conway took time to meet and speak about ALIA’s outlook and goals.

Images above L to R: The TL Robertson Library, Curtin University; Wise words at the TL Robertson Library, Curtin University.

Next up was a meeting with Susan Courtland, Patrizia Gianatti, Ngaire McLoughney and Patricia Lam Sin Cho, members of the ALIA WALT Committee. The ALIA WALT Group was formed in 1979 and will be celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2024!  WALT runs activities to celebrate Library Technicians and works closely with ALIAWest on events and in support of the FA Sharr Award

This meeting was held at the City of Perth Library. I’ve been wanting to visit this beautiful library since it opened 7 years ago, and it was wonderful to have the opportunity. A space for the people of Perth to meet, learn, create and engage, the Library has dedicated floors targeted to different demographics and offers a bright, new perspective on the adjacent heritage buildings. Many thanks to the Coordinator of the Library & Town Hall, Joanna Andrews, for taking me on the out-of-hours tour.

Images above L to R: City of Perth Library; ALIA CEO Cathie Warburton meets with ALIA WALT members (L-R) Patrizia Gianatti, Ngaire McLoughney, Patricia Lam Sin Cho, Susan Courtland; Sleeping wombats, the Perth City Library after hours.

The City of Perth Library generously provided its Auditorium as the venue for the evening’s RegALIA: Celebrating the Library Workforce event, which I hosted with the ALIA West Group. A series of lightning talks were delivered to an audience of almost 90 people. Speakers were Cathie Warburton, CEO of ALIA; Jane Cowell, ALIA President and CEO of Yarra Plenty Regional Library; Joanna Andrews, Coordinator Library & Town Hall, City of Perth; Gaby Haddow, Discipline Lead for Libraries, Archives, Records & Information Science, Curtin University;  Prue O’Neil, Advanced Skills Lecturer, Library and Information Studies, North Metropolitan TAFE; Louise Bond, Lecturer and Industry Placement Coordinator, Library and Information Studies, North Metropolitan TAFE; Rebecca Murray, President WASLA; Dr Nicole Johnston, ALIA Director and Associate University Librarian, Digital Literacy and Library Experience, Edith Cowan University; Kylie Moloney, Director Collection Access and Family History Partnerships and Engagement Group, AIATSIS; Anthony McLaughlin, Assistant Director, Descriptive Metadata and Cataloguing; and Catherine Clark, CEO & State Librarian, State Library of Western Australia.

Image above: Networking at the ‘RegALIA’ event.

Attendee feedback included:  

“[The RegALIA] event was great, a nice mix of short interesting, inspiring presentations. Makes one proud to be part of the Library & Information industry, lots of passionate and committed professionals in the room.” 

“This was my first ALIA event I have attended in-person and it was a great night and experience. It was lovely seeing old classmates and lectures from my previous study at TAFE and celebrating the library workforce in Western Australia with many GLAM professionals. The highlight of the night as I'm sure was the same for many others, were the presentations. It was interesting hearing from the various library professionals about current and emerging trainings, trends and issues in the GLAM sector.”

I was collected early the next morning by ALIA West’s Nicola Carson, who generously drove me to visit 2 libraries. First stop was the City of Melville’s Civic Square Library in Booragoon to see Emily Paull (past FA Sharr Award Recipient). With big windows looking out over the leafy surrounds, the Civic Square Library was filled with students studying and children playing and leafing through picture books. The book display was filled with WA authors, celebrating Love to Read Local Week.

Images above L to R: The ALIA REM with the ALIA West Committee - Emily Wilson, Monique Aviso, Camille Peters, Nicola Carson, Elena Smirnova, Lori Mansell (with a shout out to Kerry Smith - not pictured); The City of Melville’s Civic Square Library; Nicola Carson, Emily Wilson & Emily Paull at the Civic Square Library.

Next stop was the Fremantle Library in the Walyalup Civic Centre (Walyalup is the traditional Whadjuk Nyoongar name for the geographic location of Fremantle), which has been open for approximately 18 months. As well as the modern library, the Walyalup Civic Centre has a customer service centre, a range of meeting rooms for public use, and exhibition spaces. We were shown around by Margot Kopsen, Collection Development Librarian and her manager Leanne Thorpe. Highlights were the Library’s makerspace, learning about LibraryCraft, and learning about the Library Connect program - a partnership between the City of Fremantle and St Patrick’s Community Support Centre, to support vulnerable people facing homelessness and other disadvantages in the community.

Images above L to R: Kids’ play area at the Fremantle Library; Kriz from Library Connect at the Fremantle Library; Nina Bower Crooke, Margot Kopsen and Leanne Thorpe at the Fremantle Library.


I was back in Perth by lunchtime, where I was invited to sit in on the Australian Public Library Alliance meeting, and then the ALIA West Group meeting at the State Library of Western Australia.  

This trip to the West was a wonderful opportunity to meet, learn from, and discuss ALIA with a range of library and information professionals (who were all generous with their time and knowledge). I’ll see some of these faces again in Adelaide at the ALIA Library Technicians Symposium, and I look forward to re-connecting with others on my next WA visit.

Image left: Australian Public Library Alliance at the State Library of Western Australia 

Emily Wilson
ALIA Regional Engagement Manager