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Archive for April, 2014

In April 2014, Paco Pena and his Dance Company returned once again to Sydney with ‘Flamencura’. In the past, productions have included imaginative and often cross-cultural musical fusions. The last production to reach Australia’, ‘Flamenco sin Fronteras’ translating to ‘Flamenco without borders’, told the story of the Venezuelan musical influences in flamenco, emanating from a history of Spanish colonisation in Latin America.

This year however, there was a strong emphasis on paying tribute to flamenco’s heritage, the light and the shade. The minimalistic staging helped the roots of flamenco cante, dance and guitar to shine through, allowing the audience to experience the kaleidoscope of emotions which is so characteristically flamenco. The happiness of the Alegrias, the loneliness of the Solea, the suffering of the Martinete and the profound darkness and tragedy of the Peteneras.

The haunting images evoked in the Peteneras by the apparition of the black veiled Aranda behind fellow dancer Angel Munoz, who tragically succumbs to the veil of mortality, was spine-chilling. The second half of the show opened with a lone cantor singing the Martinete surrounded by a group of palmeros, culminating in a dance of the oppressed to the call of the heart-pounding rhythm of what sounded like percussive church bells.

By the end of the show, the flamenco heartbeat was so strong, you could literally feel the hearts and hands of the audience beating together as one in a very well deserved standing ovation.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/paco-penas-flamencura-pays-tribute-to-flamencos-heritage-20140408-36b3k.html#ixzz2ynncdbtQ

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In an age where  digitisation and the availability of information on the internet is being used to justify the cost-cutting and economic rationalism that is happening in libraries across the globe (for example, in canada, New York Public Library, Sydney’s Fisher Library and the Mitchell Library Reading Room) , three weeks working in a local public library as Digital Resources Librarian and doing service desk shifts, has really opened my eyes to what a library is and what our profession is all about – the community. 

Firstly,libraries open their doors to everyone. From the elderly, to the very young, school kids, the disabled & the ill, stressed parents  – you name it, to ensure that everyone regardless of their age, abilities, race, beliefs, social, economic or cultural background has access to quality information. In an age where there is an abundance of information available through many channels, much of which is hidden behind a paywall, rubbish and advertising, this role is ever more important.

Having recently delivered training to year 7 students on identifying quality information on the internet, searching research databases, the library catalogue and and using ebooks, I was astonished by how many students had no idea what .com means, and how google really works. That is, the difference between the information provided by a travel company found by ‘googling’, to peer-reviewed or scholarly content found in research databases, electronic and printed resources provided by a library. Clearly, there is more for us to do, or we will have a mis-informed generation of young people growing up thinking that all the ever need to know is on google. With massive public sector staffing cuts occurring across NSW in libraries and cultural institutions, we risk loosing and having the voices of the knowlegable custodians and curators of our history muffled by (not naming and names), the loud ‘white noise’ of commercial media shock jocks, conservative politicians etc!. Instead, of nurturing this consumption, we can and should continue to challenge by striving to provide a better alternative to google. Trove being a great example – the lethal weapon! Afterall, as Evelyn Juers points out, ‘what is a library without books?’ 

Having only recently come through uni as an undergraduate and postgraduate student, the argument that books and printed material are no longer required is absolute rubbish. In fact, its quite the contrary. Universities expect their students to adhere to proper academic research standards and referencing. Put simply, this means using a mixture of sources, both printed and online to do their research. Whether that is by using ebooks or consulting physical books, that’s beside the point. The point is, that regardless of the format, libraries and librarians still play an ever-important role in acquiring and providing access to up to date, quality information, resources and services which meet the needs of their communities.

However, looking at the public outcry and online petition that followed the sudden removal of librarians and access to printed reference material in the Mitchell Reading room, (btw, all of which occurred without one ounce of public consultation), anyone would think that even librarians have forgot what libraries stand for, and  the importance of, as Brian Kennedy puts it ‘tending to our core’. In the Mitchell’s case, this was its writers, scholars and historians – the  likes of Kate Grenville, David Marr and David Malouf – even the Royal Australian Historical Society!. It took a damaging media campaign and public relations nightmare for some form of public consultation to be had, culminating in a very well-disguised policy backflip with an ‘Update on access arrangements’ posted on archives live, article written for the April 2013 edition of ALIA’s Incite magazine, and sudden ‘Change of heart‘ as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Finally, but perhaps not lastly for I could and probably will go on, another fallacy I’d like to challenge is the assumption made by the educational systems and even libraries, that  all children and young people have access to resources such as computers and the internet. An article by Alexandra Smith in the Sydney Morning Herald, about a submission to the National Curriculum review by children’s education charity The Smith Family found that while ‘digital literacy was vital to education, it could not just be assumed all students had access to the same level of technology’. For many disadvantaged families struggling to put food on the table, the computer  and internet is ‘a luxury many could not afford’. See http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/national-curriculum-undermined-by-1-in-5-students-not-having-the-internet-at-home-20140331-35u8u.html#ixzz2y3kme7AT 

 

 

 

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