Mapoon: from Ideas Box to IKC

Up until 2015, State Library of Queensland did not have a partnership with Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council (MASC) or its previous iterations.

In 2014, several representatives of State Library witnessed a presentation by Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (Libraries Without Borders) and the concept of the Ideas Box in Queensland was born. Bibliothèques Sans Frontières created this concept in 2007 in response to the need for books, culture and information in developing countries. The Ideas Box is a mobile ‘pop up’ multimedia centre and learning hub that provides educational, and cultural resources to communities in need. The concept is used extensively in war-torn countries and refugee camps.

Ideas Box in Queensland

State Library felt that the Ideas Box concept could be used in remote communities without a permanent library service as an introduction to the concept. In 2014, the idea was presented to MASC and Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council (KASC). MASC was interested in being the first community in Queensland to host the Ideas Box. During the next 6 – 12 months both councils worked with State Library to schedule the hosting of the Ideas Box and identifying their individual needs to make the project a success. Funding was sourced from the Puma Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation to support costs associated with implementation and facilitation in both communities.

On 15 July 2015, at the Mapoon Community Hall, the Ideas Box was opened by the Honourable Leeanne Enoch, Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for Arts.

The Ideas Box provided an opportunity to work in partnership with community stakeholders and to build long-term relationships between council, the school, Job Search Australia agencies, church groups, Elders, PCYC and other community groups. Most importantly it enabled MASC to build a case to own and operate its own IKC as a permanent library service.

Several digital stories were created to honour the occasion, see links below:

Video 1: Ideas Box, Mapoon, 2015

Video 2,

Video 3,

In early 2016, the Ideas Box was transferred to Kowanyama where it remained for over one year.

Indigenous Knowledge Centre

After hosting the Ideas Box, MASC and State Library continued conversations to establish an IKC and on Thursday 18 August 2022 the Mapoon IKC was opened. The IKC is housed within the new Mapoon Cultural Centre and is a coup for the small Aboriginal community located 88 kilometres north of Weipa. The Cultural Centre and IKC marks a new phase for the growing community.

State Library has worked closely with MASC to provide advice and support to make the IKC a reality. This has included advice on the furniture, fitout, shelving, computers and library collection.

Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council opens the doors to the newly established Indigenous Knowledge Centre in August 2022

History of Mapoon

Mapoon community is situated on the traditional lands of the Tjungundji people.  It began as a church mission, near Trathalarrakwana (unconfirmed spelling of a Tjungundji word meaning ‘Barramundi story place’) or Cullen Point, on 28 November 1891. Mapoon Mission was established under the name Batavia River Mission by Moravian missionaries on behalf of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, with Queensland Government financial assistance, on land reserved by the Government under the Crown Lands Act of 1884. Within a few years the mission became known as Mapoon, a Tjungundji word meaning ‘place where people fight on the sand-hills’. Mapoon is also known as Marpuna. As the influence of the mission widened to the surrounding lands, the reserve was extended south to the Mission River near Weipa. Some of the traditional owner groups who eventually came to live at Mapoon included the Mpakwithi, Taepithiggi, Thaynhakwith, Warrangku, Wimarangga and Yupungathi people.

Exploring the collection

If you’d like to explore some of State Library’s collection items relating to Mapoon, we have a few suggestions in the links below:

In 2002, the first Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs) were developed in partnership with Aboriginal Community and Island Councils across Queensland. Seven IKCs were opened in 2002 with many more to follow over the years.

This year thirteen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Shire and Regional Councils will celebrate the role their IKCs play in their communities as libraries, meeting places, hubs and keeping places.


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