Victoria’s creative economy – of ideas, products, services and practices – includes public libraries. By offering a diverse range of activities and highly inclusive forms of participation, libraries are a vital node in a dynamic creative industries ecology.
The fundamental cultural role of public libraries as gateways to literacy and literature is well understood. Libraries nurture, extend and distribute the culture of the written word, in all of its forms, through reading, poetry slams, storytelling, language acquisition and development, writers’ festivals and literary awards. What is less well understood is their wider role in cultural development. Libraries provide opportunities for the development of 21st century skills – digital literacies, multimedia skills, collaborative practices, and the shared stewardship of public spaces.
Victoria’s public library network stimulates and supports the creative makers, entrepreneurs and industries in metropolitan, outer metropolitan and regional locations throughout the state. Libraries are at the forefront of new forms of participatory creativity, helping to catalyse Victoria’s capacity to thrive in an uncertain and unpredictable world. Participatory creativity moves the locus of creative thinking, making and problem solving away from a fixation on something an individual is or has, to something people experience and do together.
This more distributed notion of creativity is, in effect, an invitation to participate in civic life and creative expression; available to all Victorians regardless of educational opportunities, geography, background and individual talent. Public libraries are great democratisers in this respect. After cinema attendance, public libraries are the next most used cultural institution in Australia, attracting a diverse and representative segment of the population.
This paper outlins ten themes:
- Theme One: Fostering Creative Excellence
- Theme Two: Building Audiences and Markets
- Theme Three: Enhancing Creative Spaces and Places
- Theme Four: Cultivating Skills, Entrepreneurship & Innovation
- Theme Five: Harnessing the Opportunities of Digital Technology
- Theme Six: Increasing Participation and Social Impact
- Theme Seven: Supporting Aboriginal Arts and Culture
- Theme Eight: Regional Victoria & Outer Metropolitan Melbourne
- Theme Nine: Enhancing International Engagement
- Theme Ten: Increasing Tourism