Australia 09

It's feels like ages since I've added anything here on LibraryBytes. Truth is time slips by fast when you're seeped into learning and enjoying a new culture, but even faster when you're culture indulgence cuts you off from internet access.

For the last week and half, I've spent most of my time in the Otways (aka the western forests) of Victoria, Australia with my family. The escape to the rainforests and the Great Ocean Road of Australia was wonderful, but was also deeply sadden by the bushfire tragedies that stuck this area of the globe on February 8th. At present time, I think the number that loss their lives to the wild fires that spread rapidly in 100km winds is still hovering at just under 200. But with nearly 5000 homes lost to the fires as well, I couldn't help but think about the importance of libraries in times like these.

When I visited Australia in 07, I had the pleasure of meeting and traveling a bit with Denise Sippo, an outreach librarian with the Gippsland Library Service. The Gippsland forest region has been devastated by fires as well as has many smaller communities near and around Whitllsea, one of the council areas for the Yarra Plenty Regional Library. When I visited with Denise two years ago, i was totally struck by the stories she relaid to me about how libraries helped the community process the paperwork for flood damage and relief. Library services were indeed the life-bond for many community members and also for the councils themselves that didn't have government presence in many small communities.

Indeed libraries are vital not only in good times, but more importantly in needy times. Denise, if you're reading this, please send along a quick hello to let me know you're ok. And to Christine and the staff at YPRL, thanks again for your hospitality on my most recent trip. I know that with Whittlesea as part of your council, your libraries must be flooded with those who have lost everything in this tragedy.

My thoughts and prayers are with all you in Victoria who have not only been affected by these horrific fires but to also all those who are helping so many displaced to rebuild their lives.


Cheryl said...

With exception to the terrible loss with the fires, I am so glad you had a good time with your family in Australia! It's always good perspective to see other libraries across the US and certainly abroad. Hope you snagged some great photos :)

cHANGE-AGENT said...

Hello Helene
I'm sorry to have missed you during your visit, but very pleased to have heard that your trip went well, and your family were able to come to Australia too. The fires have been devastating in Victoria and it will take a long time for some communities to recover. We had some forest fires in our region, but were fortunate they stayed away from settled areas. The nearest towns affected were in the Latrobe Valley, Churchill, Yarram and Drouin areas between Bairnsdale and Melbourne.
We have been continuing with our web 2.0 projects here and doing some interesting online information sessions on Visual Communication with local speech pathologists as well as introducing web 2.0 tools to anyone who shows a smidge of interest!!
I'm off to the National Library in Canberra next week for an Innovative Ideas forum, so hope to come back full of inspiration.
Our remote communities continue to be intrigued with all the new technology and social networking tools. Bandwidth and access is beginning to improve for them so it's a good time to be working in this field.
Thanks for thinking of us in East Gippsland. Hope all is well with you and yours.
ps I have a new grandson since we met. Mitchell Robert, born August 2008 - He's a gem.
Talk again soon and take care
Denece Sippo