Over 12 months a large group of dedicated NCACL volunteers created, then launched a stunning database of children’s books by and about Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment, we each had specific tasks and also many of us also worked together. It could not have been accomplished without the skills, talents, and dedication of so many.
Where to start? Our superb project managers, Brenda McConchie and Trish Milne, kept us all on track, finishing on time and on budget. Lynn Fletcher, NCACL’S Web Manager, expertly built the database, problem-solved and ensured the Resource’s world-class look, feel and search capacity. Our external Reference Group members and several ‘critical friends’ offered advice and kept us thinking deeply about our project.
Three ‘Moderators’, Ruth Nitschke, Belinda Gamlen and myself divided the 310 books in the Resource among the 25 Contributors scattered across Australia. Contributors wrote annotations reflecting the books’ strengths, noting special features, creators’ cultural background and location of the story, and located resources to explore the books further. Moderators read all the annotations, checked teaching resources and encouraged the Contributors during a year of bush fires and COVID-19, which hampered, but did not stop the project. Margaret Bromley provided background research on the topic and also located books for the Resource. Our two Ambassadors, Chris Cheng and Jackie French, provided advice and support.
Ultimately everyone continued to find more books! Pat Dickson produced long lists of published books by Magabala Books and other specific publishers with special strengths for us to consider. Rose Howes, who produces our excellent book records, invariably found us more books. Meanwhile, Jude Brown created a gigantic spread sheet with over 750 entries so we could keep track of every book under consideration, who was annotating each book, and whether we and Rowan Simpkin, who continuously researched and added the Australian Curriculum and Early Years Learning Framework for each books, had completed our tasks.
We had plenty to do but agreed to create and update our research files on Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander creators. Several of us are still working on these including Jude, Ruth, Pat and Belle. We know that the Resource itself will generate interest from many people and organisations. We want to be ready. In our last phase of this project, several volunteers are writing about the Resource including Ruth, Rowan and myself. We are fortunate to have the invaluable skills of our marvellous writer and editor, Trish Milne, who helps to make each article a good communication.
All NCACL volunteers are invaluable. Heike Elvers is certainly one of these. She keeps the NCACL accounts and this year managed our grant funds as well. Heike also accessions many of our books and has done so over more than a decade.
It all sounds like a lot of work over 12 short months. None of us would do this unless we believed in what we are doing, and that many people will benefit, not the least children for whom these books are written and who are the ultimate judges.
Dr Belle Alderman, NCACL Director