Working Together to Build Inclusive Communities

This presentation will outline the success Campbelltown City Library has had with developing relationships with key community organisations to make our libraries safe and inclusive spaces. Whilst on the journey to making Campbelltown City library services more welcoming, safe and inclusive spaces for our LGBTQIA+ community we discovered that others in our region had the same goals. In working together we believed we could achieve bigger and better things, reach more people and make an impact in less time.
Combining efforts and strategies with the ACON Health Centre has allowed us to register our libraries as Welcome Here Spaces, overhaul our non-fiction LGBTQIA+ collection with expert recommendations, provide safe sex packs on World Aids Day and hold an author panel for IDAHOBIT Day celebrating Stories Out West a project and publication highlighting stories from Western Sydney LGBTQIA+ First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
As a founding member of the Macarthur Wingecarribee Diversity Network, we have played a lead role in building the network and developing and delivering several successful community events for LGBTQIA+ Youth and allies in the Macarthur region. This network brings together representatives from services and Councils across the Macarthur Region to work together to make our community more inclusive.
Working together we have held engagements and events that have never taken place in our region previously. This includes picnics, LGBTea Parties (online in lockdown and in person), a Wear It Purple Prom for ages 12-25, Pride Nights, and Panel Discussions on creating youth safe spaces with experts from Western Sydney University, Youth Action, Council and the Y NSW and youth from the community. Not only do we work together on events, we also promote and support each other’s services and events. This has allowed the library to reach a wider community base.
A key piece of feedback received from our LGBTQIA+ community is that lockdown was extremely isolating for many members of the community. It decimated a lot of connections between friends and chosen family and many are rebuilding their personal communities. The library developed a number of programs to keep people connected during this time including Dungeons and Dragons Exclusive Access group for women, female identifying, non-binary, trans and genderfluid people. Since coming out of lockdown we have continued working with the network, and have also focussed on building relationships beyond the youth focus of the network to further support our LGBTQIA+ community.
Approaching new and established community services has allowed us to engage each other with the community. Our partnerships with community organisations are key in working towards making our LGBTIQIA+ community’s needs heard and building a safer, welcoming and inclusive region for our community.

Cat Thomas

Team Leader Library Programs and Partnerships, Campbelltown City Council

Author Bio

Cat Thomas (She/Her) is the Team Leader Library Programs & Partnerships at Campbelltown Library Service. Cat has enjoyed working in both academic and public libraries over the past 13 years.
Cat is passionate and committed to creating inclusive, welcoming, vibrant, surprising and engaging spaces and programs for the community.
Cat was the 2018 recipient of the Kath Knowles Emerging Leaders Award through the Public Libraries Association for her project “Sense of Pride: Creating inclusive, safe and supportive libraries for our LGBTQIA+ community”. In 2022 Campbelltown City Council received the NSW Public Libraries Association’s Highly Commended Award for ‘Innovation in Outreach Services’ for the library’s work creating welcoming and safe spaces and inclusive services for our LGBTQI+ community.