Cultural Connections in Libraries: Embracing Cultural Diversity in Brisbane

John Allen Jeffrey
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Brisbane City Council's Community Arts Officer John Jeffrey introduces the Cultural Connections in Libraries program being implemented throughout his city, as large and small libraries host expos by culturally diverse communities from their catchment areas. The Libraries invite communities and individuals to participate in month long programs focussing on a particular community or a combination of communities. In its vision for the city - Living in Brisbane 2010 - Council has incorporated the themes of Creative Brisbane and Inclusive Brisbane. Council’s libraries were seen as an area where these objectives could be effectively implemented. Libraries, already the setting for many services designed to improve access for all people, including people of different languages and backgrounds, were identified as natural community hubs. The Cultural Connections in Libraries aims to add further vitality to the library's role as hub. It involves local communities of different cultural backgrounds in special focus activities that increases their visibility in positive ways. It strengthens their cross cultural connections; creates new relationships and networks within the wider local community; increases their sense of the local library as a safe and welcoming place to be and as a place for cultural expression. One third of the 32 public libraries have already hosted more than 20 of the city's diverse cultural communities.

Keywords: Cultural Diversity, Libraries, Community Hub, Inclusive City, Creative City
Stream: Art in Communities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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John Allen Jeffrey

Community Arts Officer, Community Development Services, Brisbane City Council
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Following an early career as a secondary school art teacher, John worked in Sydney's Inner city as a cultural worker at Ted Noff's catalyctic Wayside Chapel in King's Cross. Later coordinator and animateur of Stanley Palmer's Culture Palace in a squatter suburb of the inner city, he blended social concern and edge arts for emerging artists, dancers, film makers,actors, the distressed and the homeless. His studies at National Institute of Dramatic Art led to some community productions, but he was more strongly committed to animating indoor and outdoor public spaces, like Stanleys itself and the nearby streets. In his 25 years as a Community Arts Officer with Local Government, John encourages communities to interact on public"stages" like community centres, parks, streets and in Brisbane's many municipal libraries, particulaly encouraging cultural expression by diverse communities in these shared spaces where other communities can begin to embrace the new with the familiar. He is continually inspired by Jean Renoir's musing " All great civilisations are based on loitering." and Martin Buber's plea "The future of man depends on a rebirth of dialgue - most especially - between men of different kinds and convictions."

Ref: A06P0549