There are few municipalities in Australia as culturally and linguistically intense as the City of Canterbury. And that’s saying something, because Australia is the quintessential ‘mongrel nation’.
In the City of Canterbury suburbs of Campsie, Earlwood, Lakemba, Punchbowl, Canterbury, Belmore and Riverwood over 70 per cent of residents speak a language other than English at home, and 60 per cent were born overseas.
Over the last 18 months, Project Sisu has partnered with the City of Canterbury’s Library Service to bring cohesion, efficiency and imagination to the library’s learning programs and activities.
The research and design process included a range of consultation techniques, from the expected to the novel. We talked to people at various community and cultural events, in numerous community services, and even in their homes. Library, council and community members were asked to consider what the library service would need to stop, start and keep doing to realise its learning ambitions. This was a thought provoking and useful exercise.
Launched in June 2015, Library Learning Framework: Astonish, Inspire, Dream presents an ambitious vision for the City of Canterbury. It’s ambitious because it frames everything that could currently be described as learning related, and everything that could be done to stimulate further learning, as potentially interconnected. Of course, there are many real and perceived barriers – funding and accountability arrangements, cultural differences and tensions, inadequate resources and learning spaces, narrow thinking and behaviour.
The library’s learning vision, however, invites Canterbury’s citizens to imagine a future where these barriers do not appear overwhelming. In a community already rich in stories and opportunities for cultural exchange, the framework aims to enhance the learning potential of these through concentrating its efforts on four learning frames:
learning to learn
learning to connect
learning to imagine
learning for life.
Thanks to Paula Pfoeffer and Michelle Simon for being ideal project partners.