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SPEAKER PROFILES

Day 3: Wednesday, 16 June
Being Shovel Ready – New Victorian Public Library Projects
 
Conference Opening & Plenary
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Rhonda Rathjen

Manager, Libraries and Community, City of Wyndham

Rhonda Rathjen has been Manager, Libraries & Community Learning at Wyndham City for 13 years.

 

Rhonda has overseen the growth of Wyndham Libraries in a rapidly growing Victorian Local Government Area and has planned for future library provision in Wyndham to 2040. Rhonda’s passion is to provide great public libraries for people, where and when they need them.

 

As Manager, Libraries & Community Learning Rhonda has overall responsibility for;

  • Implementation of the Library Service Strategy 2018-2040 and the Wyndham Learning Community Strategy 2018-2023.

  • Furthering Wyndham’s status as a UNESCO Learning City and improving learning for all residents

  • Operation of a large highly utilised library service

In her spare time Rhonda enjoys cycling, walking and usually travelling overseas.

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Julie Reid

Executive Director, Local Government Victoria

Julie has had 32 years’ experience working in Local Government both nationally and internationally. She is a qualified Master of Planning and has a Graduate Diploma in Management and Bachelor of Arts (Urban Studies).

Prior to her joining the Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions (Local Government Victoria) as Executive Director she held the the role as the first female CEO at the City of Kingston. Julie also spent 10 years at an executive/director level leading city development and engineering/infrastructure portfolios at Whitehorse and Greater Dandenong City Councils.

Julie’s career in Local Government has included working in large Councils in the UK (including Westminster City Council), in rural Councils in New South Wales and a number of Victorian Councils including Bayside and Casey. Julie’s diverse experience in local government has seen her contribute to planning, urban design, sustainability, economic development, building, waste, capital works delivery, community engagement, arts, culture, events and more.

As a leader Julie believes in delivering the best results through upholding principles of respect, honesty and integrity. She is a professional and enthusiastic leader committed to helping people and improving places.

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Brian Bannon 

Merryl and James Tisch Director of Branch Libraries and Education, The New York Public Library

Brian Bannon is The New York Public Library’s first-ever Merryl and James Tisch Director. Bannon is the chief librarian responsible for directing NYPL’s 88 neighborhood branches, as well as the Library’s educational strategy.

Most recently, Bannon was commissioner and chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Library, serving as chief library officer for one of the largest urban public library systems in the world. Bannon came to NYPL in 2019 with 20 years of experience in developing and implementing educational programs and leading large-scale operations that maximize impact for all citizens and contribute to a culture of learning, reading, and community learning.

Before his successful tenure in Chicago, Bannon was Chief Information Officer at the San Francisco Public Library, and worked at the Seattle Public Library and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He has been recognized as an innovator throughout his career: amongst many other accolades, he has been named to Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” list, and was named one of Chicago’s top 100 innovators by Blue Sky Innovation, a publication of the Chicago Tribune. Bannon received his bachelor of arts from Pacific Lutheran University and his master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Washington Information School.

 

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Risa Honig, AIA

Vice President, Capital Planning & Construction, New York Public Library

Risa Honig was appointed The New York Public Library’s Vice President of Capital Planning and Construction in 2015. Honig manages a robust

portfolio of Library design and construction projects for a system consisting of 92 locations throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. 

A member of the American Institute of Architects with over 30 years of architectural experience, Honig has worked primarily in the public sector

including 10 years at the City University of New York, as an assistant director in the Department of Design, Construction, and Management, and 13 years for the Port Authority of New York and New

Jersey.

She was honored with the AIA New York Chapter Public Architect Award in 2018. Honig received her BA in architecture and a master's of architecture from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri,

and is a licensed architect.

 

Session 1 - Libraries as cultural places 
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Jane Cowell

CEO, Yarra Plenty Regional Library 

Jane Cowell is an experienced leader and passionate advocate for public libraries. She is currently the CEO of Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries Corporation, and Secretary for the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) - Public Library Section committee and has previously served on the Board of Directors of Australian Library Information Association (ALIA).  You can follow Jane on Twitter - @janecowell8 or connect with her Library blog on Medium – https://janecowell8.medium.com/
 

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Catherine Ramsay 

Director, Croxon Ramsay Architects, Registered Architect, B.Arch. (Hons), B.PD., Grad Cert Project Mgt.

Catherine has been a practicing architect for over 20 years and specialises in community and public buildings. A strong interest in environmental sustainable outcomes for the built environment is integral to Catherine’s practice of architecture and informs her design decisions.

 

Catherine is particularly interested in the design of Libraries and Learning Centres and has been involved in the design of numerous libraries including the Ivanhoe Library & Cultural Hub, Balwyn Library Redevelopment, Hume Global Learning Centre and the interiors of the Kathlene Syme’s Library.

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Leanne Williams 

CEO, West Gipsland Libraries 

Leanne Williams is the CEO of West Gippsland Libraries and Vice President of Public Libraries Victoria.  Leanne is a Non-Executive Director on an Independent School Board and a Regional Health Service and she is the Chair of two Audit and Finance Committees. 

 

Leanne is a Chartered Accountant, Graduate of the Institute of Company Directors, Graduate of Melbourne Business School's Leading Transformational Change Program and is currently undertaking her Graduate Diploma in Psychology. 

 

In 2019, Leanne was named in the Victorian Top 50 Public Sector Women and in 2020 she was the winner in the Public Leader category for an Outstanding Leadership Award.      

 

As the CEO of West Gippsland Libraries, Leanne is leading the organisations transition to become a Not-for-Profit and charity.  This will see the organisation be renamed in coming months and allow for the organisation to provide specialised library services beyond the existing Shires of Baw Baw, South Gippsland and Bass Coast. 

 

West Gippsland Libraries is also the pioneer of the first 24/7 Library in Foster that opened in 2019 and two more 24/7 libraries will be opened this year.  The 24/7 service will also feature in the new Cowes Cultural and Community Centre when it opens

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Thom McCarthy

Senior Interior Designer, Jackson Clement Burrows Architects 

A key design leader for the Cowes Cultural and Community Centre project since it commenced in early 2020, Thom has led the interior design aspects and stakeholder consultation for the library and associated community facilities within the building.

As a senior interior designer at JCB, Thom takes a leading conceptual role within the practice, bringing extensive design knowledge to every project.

He has a background in construction and is an accomplished artist and photographer. Regularly drawing on his creative abilities, Thom produces sketches, diagrams and details for projects, translating initial ideas into a buildable reality.

Having delivered a diversity of work across libraries, community, education, student living, commercial, retail and hospitality, Thom has deep knowledge of different typologies, scales, budgets, timeframes and requirements. His focus is on good design that challenges convention while remaining true to the project’s brief and client vision, and always with end users in mind.

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Angela Savage

CEO, Public Libraries Victoria 

Angela Savage is an award-winning author and CEO of Public Libraries Victoria.

 

Angela worked in international development on HIV/AIDS and sexual health in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific for over ten years, based for most of that time in Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. She worked for seven years at the Victorian Council for Social Service in social policy and sector development, before spending a year in Cambodia with her family. She later headed up the peak body for Victoria’s Neighbourhood Houses for five years. After completing her PhD in Creative Writing, she spent three years as CEO of Writers Victoria. Her latest novel is Mother of Pearl.

Session 2 - Libraries as gathering spaces
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Tom Edwards

Executive Manager, Digital Solutions and Innovation, Geelong Regional Library Corporation

Tom is a Library information technology professional with a passion for supporting the transformative work of public libraries in local communities through the innovative application of technology. He has worked within the public library sector for the last 15 years in a growth area Council setting.

 

Designing solutions to meet the distinct needs and character of a local population led to Tom and the Wyndham City Library team pioneering the introduction of RFID Smart Bins at the Point Cook branch in 2009. Tom is an advocate for co-design and use of open source technologies to empower local library users in the realisation of digital services and infrastructure. Tom joined GRLC in late 2020 and is excited to participate in new building projects like the Drysdale Library – a manifestation of the City of Greater Geelong’s designation as a UNESCO City of Design.

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Danielle Peck

Director, Architecture Associates

Danielle is founding director of Architecture Associates. Her practice has a strong interest in cultural and community projects and she has specialist skills in designing buildings that embed stories of culture, place and ecology. Danielle likes to collaborate and encourages a cross disciplinary approach to design outcomes, this has led her practice to seek collaborative work, and engage often with artists and makers to deliver innovative outcomes.

She has experience working with clients with collections, including fine art, objects and books and enjoys the challenge of entwining architectural design with the curatorial and technical aspects relating to collections display, transport and storage. With 12 years of professional experience, Danielle has developed a well-rounded ability to deliver a range of project types and budgets. In her role as practice Director and in previous roles at award-wining Melbourne practices, Danielle has developed an understanding of technical client-briefing and project delivery for complex small to large scale projects in Educational, Cultural and Residential sectors.

Integral to Danielle’s practice is the ability to undertake independent research. She currently holds positions as a casual academic at RMIT University and The University of Melbourne where she leads Design Studios in the masters of Architecture program.

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Nicola Garrod

Director, ANTARCTICA

Nicola is a director of ANTARCTICA an architecture and design 

practice based in Melbourne.

ANTARCTICA brings design to a broad set of situations and audiences, including peripheral locations, difficult problems and tight budgets. Her work aims to participate in the widest environment it can; in new forms 

of communication,  in sensitive natural environments, new types of cities, and with ordinary life.

After moving to Melbourne from Scotland in 2001, and completing her architectural study at RMIT, Nicola has continued  to pursue her interest in the richness and diversity in architecture and the communities who inhabit it through both her practice and her sessional teaching role at RMIT University.

With experience ranging from small installations and additions through to medium and larger scale community and recreation projects, Nicola has engaged in all aspects of practice - architecture in its broad sense. Through her principal  role in delivering several large community buildings, Nicola has become skilled at stakeholder consultation and community engagement and is also a qualified engagement practitioner.

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Natalie Brown 

Library Services, Senior Co-ordinator, City of Greater Dandenong

Natalie is currently the Library Services Senior Co-ordinator at the City of Greater Dandenong where she leads a team of staff delivering Library and heritage services to Australia’s most multi-cultural municipality.  With over 20 years’ experience as a leader in public libraries, Natalie has led transformational change to enhance the Libraries’ role in community strengthening, development lifelong learning.  Natalie has also led Library Services through major building developments such as the Dandenong Library and Civic Centre opened in 2014 and Springvale Community Hub, opened in 2020.

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James Wilson 

Director, Lyons

James Wilson is a Director of Lyons and a practice leader in design and briefing for civic, cultural, and educational projects. Highly experienced in the development and delivery of complex, multimillion dollar public precincts, his expertise lies in bringing together the collaborative nature of learning and research environments. His extensive experience over the last 20 years has seen him become a national leader in innovative educational, cultural and library spaces. 

An innovative and future-focused architect, James engages and listens to clients and users, utilising ‘co-design’ methodologies to create new architectural ideas within a humanist framework. Fundamental to James’ design discourse is the integration of cultural strategies that connect communities and local histories to provide meaningful urban places. 

James has recently completed a number of celebrated library projects across Australia, including the VCA Southbank Library, University of Melbourne’s Baillieu Library and Eastern Resource Centre, Dandenong Library and the new Springvale Community Hub.

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Angela Savage

CEO, Public Libraries Victoria 

Angela Savage is an award-winning author and CEO of Public Libraries Victoria.

 

Angela worked in international development on HIV/AIDS and sexual health in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific for over ten years, based for most of that time in Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. She worked for seven years at the Victorian Council for Social Service in social policy and sector development, before spending a year in Cambodia with her family. She later headed up the peak body for Victoria’s Neighbourhood Houses for five years. After completing her PhD in Creative Writing, she spent three years as CEO of Writers Victoria. Her latest novel is Mother of Pearl.

Session 3 - Libraries and participation
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Chris Gigliotti

Collection Services Librarian, Glen Eira Libraries 

Chris has extensive experience in public libraries, starting as a branch librarian, cataloguer, technical services librarian, systems librarian, and collections librarian.

 

Chris has been involved in planning spaces and collections for new and refurbished libraries, working closely with architects, designers, library staff and the community.

Most notably, the Carnegie Library and Community Centre was a massive project and achievement.

 

Chris loves the challenge of maximising the uses and functions of spaces and balancing community expectations.

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Yawen Hu

Architect, Co-op Studio

Yawen is a registered Architect at Co-op Studio. Her strengths include concept design, Interior design details and stockholder engagement. Yawen’s experience has seen her involved in complex projects in busy public realms such as the aviation, civic, recreation and education sectors.

 

At Co-op Studio she has engaged many public and education projects as interior design lead. She also worked at NMBW on both residential and education projects and Grimshaw (Melbourne) from 2015-2020 on many aviation projects.

 

Yawen provides her project team with a wide range of technical design skills that contribute to creating clients vision and create accurate documentation. Her skill-set incorporates hand-sketching, 3D modeling, renders and illustrations. She is interested in advancing her knowledge of complex and challenging projects in the public and education sectors, whilst skillfully and imaginatively resolving complex program issues.

 

Yawen’s passion is to explore and influence how people use space based on their daily needs and thrives by the challenge of providing exceptional service whilst creating a functional environment that meets the vision of each client.

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John Schout 

Principal, Co-op Studio

Over his 35 years in the industry, John Schout has developed a specialisation in Education and Community facility design. His extensive knowledge of the latest thinking in pedagogy and innovation has enabled him to be recognised for developing high quality, creative solutions for education and community spaces. John is expert at connecting master planning and spatial planning to meet curriculum and pedagogical aspirations as well as fulfilling the directions and objectives from local government clients.

Drawing on extensive experience in leadership, he has developed and refined the way teams collaborate with numerous and diverse stakeholders, which has enabled purposeful and creative design solutions which, over many years, has resulted in consistent and enhanced client satisfaction.

Through his previous extensive experience working with large education and community groups with their diverse stakeholder representation John brings to each project a methodology that maximizes engagement, collaboration and decision making that results meaningful strategic frameworks for future change.

Often working as Project Director, John’s experience as a leader enables his team to deliver design & documentation solutions, provide project communication & reporting to ensure timely completion of all project phases whilst maintaining clear and consistent client communication.

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Judy Spokes 

Senior Project Officer, Glenroy Community Hub

Judy Spokes is Senior Project Officer for the Moreland City Council’s Glenroy Community Hub, soon to be the new home for the Glenroy library.  Judy has worked in diverse social planning and cultural development roles in local government for over 25 years in Victoria and Queensland.  She established the Libraries After Dark initiative and coordinates a network of public libraries throughout Victoria that are partners in the program.  

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Kieran Leong 

Associate, DesignInc

Kieran is a design architect and associate at DesignInc Melbourne with over 15 years’ experience on a broad range of project typologies. Passionate and curious about learning and innovation, he explores biophilic approaches to architecture.

Clients and colleagues appreciate his interactive working style and thorough, logical methods of investigation. Kieran is engaged at every project phase, starting with feasibility studies and concept design, down to documentation and project administration. His portfolio spans health and wellbeing, residential and education facilities as well as leading biophilic design studios at University of Melbourne.

He aims to create environments that encourage positive human experiences, interaction and connection. He encourages his clients, stakeholders and design teams in not merely meeting the brief but exceeding its expectations.

Session 4 - Supporting business  
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Anna Burkey

Creative Enterprise Lead, Head of StartSpace

Good ideas can come from anywhere - but not every new founder has access to the mentorship and information that can make or break a business in the early days. 

I'm currently leading the establishment of StartSpace @ State Library Victoria - a business support service, for free and for everyone, that helps new founders from all walks of life to find their feet. Providing work space, events, training programs, scholarships and access to mentors and timely information, StartSpace backs great new founders all across the state of Victoria. 

From social enterprises and sustainable local business to global startups, StartSpace offers early support and professional networks. It's also a prototype for the library industry in Australia, bringing together the strong community engagement and knowledge of libraries with the skills and networks of the innovation economy.

Got an idea and not sure where to start? Start at StartSpace.

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Aun Ngo

Community Lead, Creative Enterprise Portfolio, State Library Victoria

Aun looks after the community aspect of StartSpace – connecting people, ideas and resources.
 

Born in Malaysia but migrating to Melbourne at an early age, he studied Commerce and Arts before working in the education sector managing student welfare programs. Aun then spent some time working in Asia – through AusAID at a social enterprise in Manila, then at a non-profit in Singapore. More recently he launched and managed the FYA Hub, Australia’s first free coworking space for youth social entrepreneurs. He also co-founded Meld Community, a non-profit supporting international students studying in Melbourne. 

Conference Closing
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Rhonda Rathjen

Manager, Libraries and Community, City of Wyndham

Rhonda Rathjen has been Manager, Libraries & Community Learning at Wyndham City for 13 years.

 

Rhonda has overseen the growth of Wyndham Libraries in a rapidly growing Victorian Local Government Area and has planned for future library provision in Wyndham to 2040. Rhonda’s passion is to provide great public libraries for people, where and when they need them.

 

As Manager, Libraries & Community Learning Rhonda has overall responsibility for;

  • Implementation of the Library Service Strategy 2018-2040 and the Wyndham Learning Community Strategy 2018-2023.

  • Furthering Wyndham’s status as a UNESCO Learning City and improving learning for all residents

  • Operation of a large highly utilised library service

In her spare time Rhonda enjoys cycling, walking and usually travelling overseas.

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Debra Rosenfeldt

Head of Library Sector Engagement, State Library Victoria 

Debra Rosenfeldt is Head of Library Sector Engagement at State Library Victoria.  She leads a wide range of strategic initiatives in partnership with Victoria’s public libraries that support library service development across the state. The Libraries By Design conference is one of these initiatives.  

Other initiatives include the Libraries Change Lives advocacy campaign, the Libraries for Health and Wellbeing Strategic Framework for Victorian Public Libraries, and the flagship Shared Leadership Program for emerging sector leaders. Earlier in her career, Debra worked with the Boroondara, Whitehorse-Manningham and Casey-Cardinia library services.    

This conference is proudly brought to you by:

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State Library Victoria and Public Libraries Victoria acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we operate and pay respects to their ancestors, elders and families - past present and emerging.