"Discovering Queensland" Facilitator's Report
Another two Discovering Queensland courses have finished on a high note with participants' feedback being overwhelmingly positive. The one criticism that keeps surfacing at the end of each successive course is that they are never long enough and the sessions are too short. This is high praise indeed, considering each course has been six weeks long and all sessions 1.5 hours long. To watch most of the participants arrive in the evening after a long day's work and see them re-energise as Professor Raymond Evans relates extraordinary and spellbinding stories from his vast knowledge of Queensland history, has been magical.
The direction of discussion in each of the sessions has always been determined by what the participants are interested in knowing more about from their reading of the focal chapter of the set text book, A History of Queensland. One of the main observations I have made from facilitating the Discovering Queensland course is that it has no script. The mix of backgrounds and the personal and professional interests of the various participants in each group has ensured the discussion has always been completely different from all of the other groups. This has meant that despite facilitating the course five times, I have had the benefit of deepening my knowledge of Queensland history each time the course has been run.
At the end of 2008 this course was initially offered to staff as a pilot to prepare for a course to be delivered to the public. the large number of people who missed out on booking in to State Library's first Discovering Queensland course prompted organisers to offer a second round as a way of 'managing our success'. It was a complete surprise to us when it was greeted with enthusiasm, considering that all the other Queensland history courses on offer through universities and other institutions had been withdrawn due to lack of interest and bookings. The ongoing popularity of the courses then led to two more courses being offered during October and November of this year.
Professor Evans attributes the popularity of our Discovering Queensland course to its unique 3 Rs combination, which comprises:
Reading and discussing the set text, A History of Queensland; in a similar way to how members of book clubs interact with their chosen books
Raw material from the John Oxley Library's collection being on display each week for participants to enjoy, as well as having access to the
wRiter of the set text book at each session who fleshes out the various themes and topics of the week's focal chapters with the participants.
Facilitating the Discovering Queensland course and working with Professor Evans will remain one of my career highlights. This role will now move into the very capable hands of Heritage Collections' Manager of Information Services, Simon Farley. I now look forward to the exciting prospect of exploring and developing my role as Queensland Authors and Legal Deposit Librarian.
A big thank you to all the people who have participated in the Discovering Queensland courses - it really has been a fantastic experience and one that I will cherish forever!
Dr Leanne Day