Read the latest from Project Sisu

Ode to Oodi

 

Oodi Helsinki City Library is an unequivocal civic triumph, a temple to democracy when democracy itself is threatened.

Since it opened in December 2018, Oodi has welcomed over three million people. The 10,000 square metre building was a birthday present to the city to acknowledge 100 years of liberation from colonial rule, first Swedish, then Russian.
How apposite that Oodi looks out over a large civic square to Parliament House, an architectural relic from another era. This is the real ‘people’s palace’. This is where civic experimentation is taking place on an epic scale.
I spent five days at Oodi in September 2019.

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The Creative Library

‘If everyone can be creative, and if creative thinking and ideas already permeate Victorian public libraries, then what is The Creative Library? What could it be?’

In 2016, Creative Victoria’s Creative State Strategy was released. An investment of $115 million was attached to strategy implementation. Victoria’s 47 public library services were not referenced in the Creative State document. Not one cent of the $115 million available to “put creativity at the heart of Victoria’s future” would go to the extensive cultural infrastructure and programs embodied in the state’s public library network.

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Macksville Library

Gumbaynggirr Country

The Nambucca Shire is situated on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales. From the coast to the hinterland, it spans the ancient and productive lands of the Gumbaynggirr Nation. The population is around 20,000, mainly Anglo-Celtic but with significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The Nambucca Library Service comprises two branch libraries; one at Macksville, the Shire’s administrative centre; and another at Nambucca Heads, a busy tourist town. Like the rest of the Mid-North Coast, the landscape is spectacularly beautiful.

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Creative Melville

Always in flux

‘History is buffeted by numerous variables; sometimes stationary, sometimes volatile, but always in flux.’

I wrote this sentence for Creative Melville, the City of Melville’s cultural strategy 2018 – 2022.  It could describe the strategy development process itself. Working with a forward-looking team to craft a sensible and ambitious cultural strategy was a privilege. It took longer than anyone expected.  We chose a highly participative strategy development process, involving everyone who worked in libraries, galleries, museums and arts programs, as well as broader community and arts-related groups.

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Jane Siberry’s ‘Songwriters in the Round’

Siberry Salon in Sydney 2019.

People who inhabit the spaces between categories, who seek a form of creative expression beyond formulas, people who choose the road less travelled, invariably exhibit sisu.

People like Jane Siberry.

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Canada’s Peter MacLeod challenges libraries to be audacious at Radical Libraries 2018.

Radical inclusion

What’s the most radical form of civic inclusion we have NOT yet seen? Whatever it is, it will include public libraries.READ MORE

NEXT Library 2017

Of course, you can take the escalator from the car park up and into the cavernous ground floor of Dokk1. But, at least once, it is worth taking the stairs. Although vertiginous and narrow, the stairs afford sweeping views of Aarhus Harbour and the City’s ongoing reclamation of its waterfront. The crab-like ascension also gives you time to pause and reflect on the scale, commanding position, and ambition that frame this extraordinary public library and citizen centre. A bit like the external garden-facing stairs nestled into the Sydney Opera House, designed by that other Great Dane Jørn Utzon, climbing the stairs of Dokk1 feels like entering a temple. And it is a kind of temple; a 21st century temple to civic experimentation.

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Moments of M

Using different words in place of our habitual corporate jargon can sometimes trick us into abandoning the knots that bind us to the same old thinking. READ MORE

Transition tales

We’ve all been there – mergers, amalgamations, restructures.

Funding cuts, funding restored.

Joint ventures and partnerships that suddenly go sour. READ MORE

Why sisu?

Finnish and Estonian are related languages. The word sisu is shared between them. For Finns, sisu is almost a defining feature or aspiration of their national identity. Sisu evokes spirit, resilience, fortitude, commitment, persistence.READ MORE

The Alchemy of Learning

We called her our guru. Her small and lyrical book, Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes (TED 2015), formed the intellectual backbone to our six month, project-based library leadership program in Queensland last year.

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Learning for Life

There are few municipalities in Australia as culturally and linguistically intense as the City of Canterbury.  READ MORE

The New Nirvana

The economic and social benefits of public libraries have been well researched, but the multiple ways in which they support cultural life and production deserves more attention. READ MORE

Siri Calling

Last year, a few days before Christmas, the Strategic Services Group in the Department of Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade and Energy SA was due to hold a strategic planning workshop. READ MORE

The Full Spectrum – The Rainbow Aphorisms

David McDiarmid’s artistic practice was born postmodern. That’s the conclusion Sally Gray reaches in her recent book The Full Spectrum: David McDiarmid’s Rainbow Aphorisms, published by Project Sisu. READ MORE