Live at the Library – Forging Geographic Gaps and Advancing Community Engagement.

State Library of Queensland, in alignment with the conference theme of Forging Future Libraries, assumes the crucial responsibility of ensuring all Queenslanders have equitable access to its valuable resources and collections, regardless of their geographic location. As one of Australia’s most expansive states, State Library uniquely grapples with the challenge of serving a significant portion of its population residing outside the Greater Brisbane capital.

Live at the Library stands as a transformative initiative that not only extends State Library’s reach to remote and regional communities but also affords students real-time access to the library’s extensive collections, resources, and the expertise of its staff. In this endeavour, State Library demonstrates its unwavering commitment to fostering innovation, sustainability, and community engagement through the provision of cutting-edge library services. Conceived as an extension of the successful Curriculum Connect website, a centralised resource platform that offers teacher-reviewed, Queensland-focused, and curriculum-aligned learning materials, the Live at the Library program virtually connects regional students with State Library’s unique collections and expert staff in real-time.

Through a series of interactive sessions, accommodating both primary and secondary students across all year levels, Live at the Library workshops allow exploration of State Library content from the convenience of their own classrooms, while adding Queensland stories to enhance their learning. Advanced technology, including the WolfVision EYE 14 visualiser camera, further enhances the “live” experience by providing access to high-resolution visuals and remote interactivity engagement options, such as zooming in and out on State Library content from their own computer. Since its launch in October 2022, Live at the Library has attracted interest from 72 schools across Queensland, 85% of which are in regional areas, resulting in over 4,500 students participating in more than 180 sessions.

This program model is extending engagement with regional schools, increasing the utilisation of Curriculum Connect resources, connecting teachers with curriculum-aligned programs and professional development opportunities, offering information literacy support for schools without qualified school librarians, introducing students and educators to the library’s digital resources, promoting State Library membership, and increasing the use of digital collections in regional Queensland. State Library of Queensland’s Live at the Library project provides a valuable template for other innovative libraries seeking to develop their virtual engagement programs to create value and connection with their respective communities.

State Library is enthusiastic about sharing the journey and insights gained from the implementation of the Live at the Library program from development to delivery and envision that this knowledge will empower libraries to dare to harness technology’s transformative potential, to bridge geographical divides, ensure educational equity, and enrich the library experience for all, irrespective of their location, thereby creating value for the communities they serve.

Natasha Ratajczek

Coordinator Schools Engagement–Teacher in Residence, State Library of Queensland

Author Bio

With a wealth of experience as a former high school English and history teacher, Natasha has dedicated over a decade working at the State Library of Queensland in the delivery of programs for children and families.

As a passionate advocate for education and literacy, she is now leading the charge in coordinating the delivery of both online and onsite engaging and dynamic schools engagement opportunities for teachers and students across Queensland—and encouraging the incorporation of Queensland stories to classroom curriculum!