ALIA road trip: 600km across Victoria

Cathie Warburton, CEO and co-driver Zola Maddison, Director Events and Training, recently clocked up almost 600km traversing Victoria and meeting people working in libraries from Geelong to Goulburn Valley.


City of Melbourne is located on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Bunurong / Boon Wurrung peoples of the Kulin nation.

Starting at the State Library of Victoria they met with long term ALIA member, former ALIA Director and current Director Collections at SLV, Monica Szunejko to discuss ALIA’s approach to future conferences and training. With Zola based in Melbourne it was good to further build connections with SLV. A point of interest is that ALIA now has staff based in ACT, Victoria, South Australia and Northern Territory.

Next was a meeting with the CEO of Public Libraries Victoria, Angela Savage and Project Officer Christine Peters. There was hardly enough time to hear about all the different initiatives that are underway. ALIA has a strong relationship with PLV and is keen to continue collaborating to support public libraries and their staff in Victoria. This is aligned with ALIA’s strategic focus to support an active sector and empower local leadership (see 2024-26 Strategic Plan). It turned out that three of the four public libraries visited over the next few days were managed by a member of the PLV Executive – a complete coincidence but one that demonstrated the reach of PLV and its representation in the regions.

Photo left: State Library of Victoria Reading Room.


Geelong Regional Libraries are located on the traditional lands of the Wadawurrung People of the Kulin nation, and the Gulidjan and Gadubanud Peoples of the Maar nations.

Public Libraries Victoria President, Vanessa Schernickau is CEO of the Geelong Regional Library Corporation. This was the first ever visit to Geelong for Cathie and Zola and the Dome did not disappoint. As well as being a striking piece of architectural design it was filled with a hive of activity and surprises. Pictured here is a meeting room with a view and the rich red heritage room.

Vanessa manages 20 libraries in the Geelong Regional Library Corporation. It was great to have the opportunity to visit some of these libraries, meet staff and have a wide ranging discussion with Vanessa. Ideas were flowing for possible future collaborations on leadership, democracy, plurality and regional hubs.

Photos below (L to R): Meeting room in the Dome; Vanessa Schernickau and Zola Maddison.

Goulburn Valley

Goulburn Valley Council is located on the traditional lands of the Yorta Yorta People and the Taungurung People.

Public Libraries Victoria Executive Felicity Macchion is the CEO of Goulburn Valley Libraries. Cathie and Zola met Felicity at the Tatura Library which has recently become one of two Open Libraries in the Goulburn Valley Group. Library members who have applied and undergone an induction can visit these libraries anytime between 8am and 8pm. Interestingly Cathie first met Felicity back in November 2022 at Bargoonga Nganjin North Fitzroy Library, part of the Yarra Libraries group, which was one of the first Open Libraries in Victoria.

Felicity and Zola discovered they had likely met previously through the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI) program. Felicity had been a participant and Zola was a Program Officer with Global Libraries, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which ran the program. It’s a small world!

Photo right (L to R): Felicity Macchion, Zola and Cathie.


The Shire of Campaspe is located on the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Yorta Yorta peoples.

Public Libraries Victoria Executive Jenny Mustey is the Library Services Manager at Campaspe Shire Council in Echuca. Coincidentally Jenny was also Felicity Macchion’s mentor on the INELI program! Cathie and Zola met Jenny and Nerida Dye, Campaspe Library’s Community Outreach Coordinator. Nerida will be speaking at the ALIA National Conference on Campaspe Library’s successful social prescribing program.

On the website it says “Campaspe Library – My place, your place, our place”. For the week of April 13 - April 20 the Echuca library will be “the place” for the Victorian Legislative Council Parliamentary sitting. This has been months in the planning and is a great credit to Jenny and her team and a great opportunity to showcase the library and the important role it plays in regional communities.

Photo below (L to R): Nerida Dye, Jenny Mustey, Cathie and Zola outside Echuca library.


The City of Greater Bendigo is located on the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung and the Taungurung Peoples of the Kulin Nation.

On Friday afternoon Zola travelled back to Melbourne by train and Cathie stayed on to join ALIA Victoria’s GLAM tour of Bendigo on Saturday. The day started at the Golden Dragon Museum with a special guided tour of the collections which included Loong, the oldest surviving complete processional dragon in the world.

Next stop was Bendigo Library. Mark Hands, CEO of Goldfields Library Corporation and Robin Pearson, Bendigo Library Manager were very generous with their time and gave the group a tour of the library. Along the way they answered many questions and there was lively discussion about a range of topics including teenage library users, celebrating First Nations culture, staffing levels and staff safety and partnerships. With a nice connection to the Golden Dragon Museum there was a community craft station where people could decorate an old DVD to create a new shiny scale for Hock Loong, the dragon who is suspended in the Bendigo library foyer.

The tour finished at the wonderful Bendigo Art Gallery with a guided tour of the collection and those who had the time popped in to see the Paris exhibition.

The ALIA Victoria group hosted a very successful day in Bendigo. Congratulations to them for organising an event in the regions and continuing to volunteer their time to create meaningful connections and experiences for members.

Photos above (L to R): The ALIA Victoria Committee with Cathie in the Golden Dragon Museum, Michael Barry, Cathie, Ellen Coates, James Baker, Jade Koekoe and Diane Johnston; Mark Hands; Hock Loong.