Top 10 Posts for 2011

two women playing cricket

We have had lots of fun playing family cricket on the nearby oval these holidays. Here I am wicket keeping while my sister-in-law is batting. Photo by Ian Woolward

Blogs and cricket have something important in common – statistics!  This week I’ve enjoyed spending lots of time with my family visiting from interstate and watching the exciting Boxing Day test match between India and Australia.  It was a great example of test cricket – four days of see-sawing between the teams until Australia finally won.   I tried to write a blog post while watching the cricket but the cricket was way too interesting for me to write anything worth posting.   Instead, I thought I would join the other bloggers out there and create a list of the posts on this blog that generated the most hits in 2011.

10.  50th Anniversary of the Sydney Baha’i Temple:  I took advantage of living close to this place of worship and spent an afternoon in the National Baha’i Archives doing research for this post.  It is the only Baha’i Temple in Australia and receives thousands of visitors each year.  The fact that this post is one of the most popular posts on my blog this year shows that it is also a magnetic for virtual visitors!

9.  Religion in State Schools:  This is a very brief overview of my thesis and the history of religious education in state schools in Australia.  The role of religion in schools has been the subject of public debate during recent years in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.  In fact I can tell when the debate has heated up again by a spike in hits on this page and the related post, The Transformation of a Word.

8.  Cricket in Sydney 1876:  This does well whenever Australia and India are playing cricket.  The genesis of this post came from my research on the history of teaching reading in Australia.  Read the post to find out how cricket and education in the 19th century are related!

7.  Serendipitous Reading:  Serendipity is an experience that book readers love.  The chance encounter with a book on a shelf that one hasn’t been looking for can expand our horizons unexpectedly.  In this post I share my experience with serendipity starting in secondhand bookshops, moving onto my bookshelves and then considering serendipitous encounters with books in the virtual world.

6.  “An Unforgettable Inspiration”:  Everyone at my daughters’ high school was sad to see history teacher, Mr Mulley, retire.  His classroom is testament to the rapport he had with his students.  The walls are covered with murals painted by his students and messages from each departing year 12 class.  I didn’t know how long it would be before the murals and messages would be painted over so on his last day I went into the classroom and photographed it.  Check out my flickr set for additional photos of the classroom not published on this post.

5.  Footnotes: “Sneakily Important”:  Who would have thought that a post on footnotes would be in the top 10?  Perhaps there is a message to publishers here?  Readers do care about footnotes!

4.  Australia’s Historic Newspapers Online:  Along with many other people, I love the National Library of Australia’s Trove website where we can read Australia’s historic newspapers.  However, it is important to realise that many historic Australian newspapers are still not available on this site.  This post is about how some of us found another source of digitised Australian newspapers by collaborating on Twitter.

3. Mapping Australia’s Natural Disasters: Space and Time:  Our family living near Tully in Far North Queensland had the scariest night of their lives when cyclone Yasi tore through their area.  In the middle of the night when the cyclone was unleashing its fury we received an alarming phone call from them.  Their house had been damaged and they were concerned that a nearby tree was going to crash onto them.  They needed to escape.  After they ran from their house we didn’t hear from them for many hours.  I wrote this post in order to calm my nerves – there was little sleep in our house that night.  My sister-in-law has written a post about their experience that frightening night which I recommend that you read – Yasi – our story one of many.

2.  Southern Queensland Floods – Again:  Southern Queensland has had a problem with flooding since European settlement and there is also evidence of flooding in the area before this.  Along with many others I watched the floods with concern and sympathy for those living in the path of the floods as well as admiration for the courage and tenacity shown by Queenslanders.  This post highlights the foresight and hard work of the staff of the State Library of Queensland which saved some valuable collections as well as the history of flooding in southern Queensland.

Drum roll please….

1.  Sydney University Library: Borrowers Protest:  Around the world libraries have been closing or drastically reducing the size of their collections and the services they offer.  Then my alma mater, the University of Sydney, announced a massive book cull and significant staff cuts at their libraries.  It is easy to react and protest but I don’t believe that any librarian would willingly destroy a collection.  I wanted to find out more about the thinking behind these actions so I took the opportunity to interview the man behind the decisions, University of Sydney Librarian, John Shipp.  In the midst of dealing with the furore that ensued after the announcement of the book cull and staff cuts, he took the time to answer my questions at length.  Whatever we may think of his decisions, I believe that he should be admired for advertising his e-mail address, making himself available for media interviews and attending the student demonstration protesting his decisions with his name badge on.

A Big Thankyou!

No person is an island.  As with any endeavour I could not have been able to write this blog without the support of my family even though they groan when I give them frequent updates on my blog statistics!  Hubble (my other half) and I made the decision to start our blogs at the same time.  Even though our blogs are quite different in terms of the topics covered (his blog is about cloud computing) we have been cheering each other’s successes and motivating each other to do more.  Thankyou Hubble for your encouragement!

In the same vein a big thankyou goes to my sister-in-law, June Perkins.  She was the first in the family to start blogging years ago and she has provided a great example for me to follow.  It is wonderful to see her successes blogging for ABC Open this year as well as continuing with some great posts on her personal blog, Pearlz Dreaming.

On the history side of things I owe much to the staff and students in the University of Sydney history department.  Many of my posts are a result of what I have learned there.  I am also very grateful to Bill Green (Charles Sturt University), Phil Cormack (University of South Australia) and Annette Patterson (Queensland University of Technology) who gave me the opportunity to work on their research project about the history of teaching reading in Australia.  Many of the insights on this blog arose while working in archives for this project.

I am also very grateful to the countless librarians and archivists who have helped me both at the place where physical collections are stored and online.  Historians are very dependent on historic collections being available for research.  I hope my posts about the issues facing libraries have in a small way helped to raise awareness of how important they continue to be in the online era.

I discovered twitter this year and have learned so much from it and felt the support of the online community.  Twitter is much maligned for trading in trivialities, but I choose to follow those who share their professional learning and experience.  I have learned so much from twitter this year. Please check out the tweeps I follow – there are some gems out there.

And finally A BIG THANKYOU to you, the reader of this blog.  Thankyou for your comments throughout the year.  Please feel free to tell me what you would like me to write about in 2012 in the comments below.

Statues of two kangaroos wearing red, white and green balloons on their heads.

A happy new year to you from the kangaroo statues in King George Square, Brisbane!

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