Victoria Reads: Stories That Matter was the result of a successful collaboration between Victorian public library services, initiated and managed by the Public Libraries Victoria Reader Development Special Interest Group (SIG). Held online on 14 September, the 2021 event was developed following the success of the inaugural pilot event in 2020 and provided a central focus for Victorian public libraries’ participation in the Australia Reads campaign. Collaborating on a statewide event became critical again as Victoria was in the midst of another long lockdown, and Victoria Reads was supported by 51 public library services across the state.

The event was hosted by Paul Kennedy and Claire Hooper, and showcased pre-recorded interviews with speakers Tony Birch, Nazeem Hussain, Alice Pung and Christian White discussing stories that mattered to them. Attendees had the opportunity to contribute their own book recommendations in the Zoom chat, creating opportunities for reader to reader engagement.

Bookings eclipsed the previous year’s event, being sold out at 1,200 bookings. More than 600 people attended the live event and there were more than 200 views of the recording on YouTube in the following weeks. These attendance statistics are outstanding for a single library event, and demonstrate success in meeting the aims to raise the profile of  library services in our communities, connecting our communities and sharing a love of reading.

While managed by the Reader Development SIG, the Victoria Reads Working Group was made up representatives from the Collections, LibMark (Library Marketing) and ICT SIGSs as well as Reader Development. The organisers attribute the success of the event to the networking and connections of the working group, the diverse skill set across the team members, and the hard work and determination to ensure that the group delivered another successful event on behalf of PLV for libraries across the state.

Feedback from participants was positive and expressed enjoyment of the event. Among the organisers’ favourite quotes is this from a participant:

“I felt like I’d had a house full of visitors at the end…something I’ve been unable to do for the last 18 months or so [due to lockdowns].”

The Victoria Reads: Stories That Matter Evaluation Report is available here.

PLV would like to acknowledge and thank the members of the Victoria Reads 2021 Working Group:

Laura Antoniak, Frankston City Libraries / Reader Development SIG member
Meaghan Brown, Hyphen Wodonga Libraries / Reader Development SIG member
Karen Bryan, Monash Public Library Service / Collections SIG member
Cory Greenwood, Yarra Libraries / LibMark SIG convenor
Heather Iveson, Boroondara Library Service / Collections SIG member
Katie Jones, Frankston City Libraries / Reader Development SIG member
Michelle McLean, Casey Cardinia Libraries / ICT SIG convenor
Natalie Mason, City of Melbourne Libraries / Reader Development SIG convenor
Victoria Mathews, Geelong Regional Libraries / Reader Development SIG member

Thanks also to Jacinta Cloney, Public Libraries Victoria, Anyez Lindop, Australia Reads and Cory Greenwood, Yarra City Libraries.

Finally, we would also like to acknowledge and thank the library services that contributed financially to the event: Boroondara, Frankston, Geelong, Monash and Wodonga.

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