Representing and Reflecting Cultural Diversity in Library Research, Policy and Practice (Thursday 27 February to Friday 28 February 2020)

About this Event

The goal of building collections that reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of societies presents significant challenges for libraries, particularly in settler-colonial countries of immigration such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia, but also in multicultural countries such as Argentina and South Africa, The Netherlands and Singapore. At the same time, the emphasis on an adequate representation of plural cultures, faiths, knowledges, values and languages within a singular notion of ‘the nation’ has remained politically contentious and pragmatically challenging. The online environment widens the possibility of collecting and making available information resources relating to a society’s diverse history and heritage. However, such practices raise complex questions about control, agency and cultural identity, as well as institutional capacity and the equally complex issues of equity and access to online resources.

In this symposium, we are seeking to promote greater exchange of ideas and approaches between practitioners and academics. Participants will reflect on their research and experience to explore these challenges across the full range of libraries (academic & research, government, public, community, special etc), library science scholarship and library education and training. The symposium will also feature critical reflections from practitioners in the wider GLAM sector.

Contributions will relate to strategies (policy development, descriptive practice, community engagement etc) which have addressed the challenges of cultural representation in libraries and which address the implications that the work of libraries has, and could have, for the identities of multicultural or ‘diverse’ societies. We will engage with questions to do with libraries’ attempts to represent and reflect culturally and linguistically diverse societies, but also matters that address related broader questions, such as the place of libraries in the framing of national histories and narratives and the construction of national heritage in multicultural societies.

Program available here.

This symposium is an initiative of the project Representing Multicultural Australia in National and State Libraries.

The project aims to investigate the representation of histories and cultures of migrants from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in the National Library and select state library collections.


Associate Professor Ian McShane RMIT University, on behalf of the project team.

Please direct enquiries to: Dr Jodie Boyd,

More information here.


RMIT University, 124 La Trobe Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000


Thursday 27 February to Friday 28 February 2020


$150 (includes all meals)