Monday, March 20, 2023

A few thoughts on the book The Australian history industry


The Australian History IndustryThe Australian History Industry by Paul Ashton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an amazing book which would be great to re-read (even though I have just finished reading it). It is a pacy and entertaining exploration of researching history in Australia. It is a remarkable contemporary book with issues of the pandemic and other recent events part of the discussion of the work of history. The varied perspectives help to describe the complexity of historical research. This would be a helpful book for local studies library staff to read.

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Sunday, January 9, 2022

A few thoughts on the book A modest living: memoirs of a Cockney Sikh

A Modest Living: Memoirs of a Cockney SikhA Modest Living: Memoirs of a Cockney Sikh by Suresh Singh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a really interesting local studies publication which I found out about from Spitalfields Life. It is written about growing up in London, and spending time in India with very specific locations being described. The author provides a very strong picture of his father. It is also a very interesting account of being punk, and being the first in the family to obtain a university degree. It shows the importance of having information about culturally and linguistically diverse people included in local studies collections. This really is a charming book, and includes some family recipes as well.

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Sunday, November 7, 2021

A few thoughts on the book: The troubles and beyond: curating conflict

The troubles and beyond: curating conflictThe troubles and beyond: curating conflict by Karen Logan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is about how the National Museums in Northern Ireland changed their approach to collecting information about The troubles, and also changed their approach to how exhibitions about this time are shown. They aim to present a 'view of broader social, cultural and economic history as well as exploring the impact of conflict on everyday life, people and communities' p 18. They are seeking a critical discussion with the community who are coming to exhibitions, especially of recent history. They are looking at recent history including for 'accuracy, inclusiveness and balance' p24, and are also seeking to build stronger community connections to advise the museum.

The book explores past approaches to describing The troubles, and the new approach of greater diversity and inclusion as well as community projects which are bringing together people who have similarly tough experiences. There are comments from people who provided personal testimony to the museum because they were shot, they had a family member killed, they were present at a bombing, or they were a nurse who treated people from all sides.

I was interested in this book because of local studies, and reading it highlights that difficult and divisive topics can be dealt with well by museums (and presumably libraries) and that it is important to not sidestep the tension.

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Sunday, August 22, 2021

A few thoughts on How to turn a place around: a handbook for creating successful public spaces - relevant to libraries

How to Turn a Place Around: A Handbook for Creating Successful Public SpacesHow to Turn a Place Around: A Handbook for Creating Successful Public Spaces by Project for Public Spaces
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a pacy and engaging read. This, unsurprisingly, is a book about public spaces, and generally outdoor space, however there are many elements which are applicable for public (and other) libraries as well. In a description of Discovery Park in Houston, TX, it says that it is 'not enough to have just one great destination on a great park - you need at least 10 of them to create a truly lively place' (p91). This is relevant for libraries as you need different kinds of spaces within the one building. It is also not a new idea that libraries need different kinds of spaces, for example see this produced by my work place.

I have been following Project For Public Spaces for a while, but it was watching a recent Victorian public library conference about library buildings which encouraged me to read this. There are place making principles including creating a place not a design, and the importance of community consultation, and evaluation. Place making is also continuous as communities change over time.

I found it was helpful reading this book, because of the different locations explored as I could then think about the implications for libraries. I will need to read it again, but that will be enjoyable.

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