VALA Award 2022

The recipient of the 2022 VALA Award is:

State Library of Queensland – Siganto Digital Learning Program

VALA congratulates the State Library of Queensland on Siganto Digital Learning Program (watch their presentation).

State Library of Queensland’s Siganto Digital Learning Program is a series of purpose driven workshops that help develop digital literacy in recently arrived communities. The unique workshops help to addressthe digital divide that can occur and present barriers for migrants and refugees forming broader connections within their community.

The 2021 Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) revealed that Queensland continues to fall behind the national average in key areas, particularly in digital ability and access.

The Siganto Digital Learning Workshops has produced an important model and materials for addressing this disparity, which becomes even more considerable in rural and regional communities. Digital curriculum resources developed as part of the project, released under a Creative Commons License, are hosted on State Library’s online Wiki and externally accessed nearly 6,000 times and have been recently published in multiple languages.

Running from 2017 to 2022, the Siganto Digital Learning Workshops provided practical hands-on digital skills training and computer hardware to 265 individuals from newly arrived migrant and refugee communities, ranging in ages from 13 to 65 and more than 30 different countries of origin.

In 2021 State Library of Queensland engaged researchers from QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC) to undertake an evaluation of the Siganto Digital Learning Workshops program, and to make recommendations for further digital inclusion work in the sector.

The evaluation found that the Siganto Digital Learning Workshops:

  • addressed a community need, by increasing access to devices appropriate for education and improving the skills and problem-solving confidence of participants.
  • provided pathways for participants to engage more broadly with the State Library and pursue further learning about technology in their areas of interest with the support of the workshop facilitators.
  • participants are employing the skills and knowledge they gain in the workshops to help other family members.
  • provided employment opportunities for several participants to deliver these workshops.

We wish to acknowledge our other nominees:

  • University of South Australia Library – Creation of a new process using Appian for UniSA researchers to submit Non-Traditional Research Outputs (NTROs) for review within academic units and inclusion in the Research Outputs Repository.
  • Geelong Regional Library Corporation – Saving Family Stories – Photo and Video Digitisation

View the recording of their presentations.

VALA Award for Crisis Response 2020

The joint recipients of the 2020 VALA Award for Crisis Response are:

  • State Library of New South Wales – The Diary Files


  • State Library Queensland – ANZAC Stories

VALA congratulates both recipients for their commendable nominations.

State Library of New South Wales – The Diary Files

COVID-19 presents the important challenge of recording the experiences of Australians across the span of the pandemic. The Diary Files, developed in partnership with ABC Radio Sydney, is a community driven platform, built by the State Library of NSW’s DX Lab to collect the stories, poems, lyrics, thoughts and reflections of the people of NSW and beyond. Designed to preserve the everyday experiences of Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Diary Files are intended to be preserved permanently and be accessed by future researchers looking back on the emotional impacts from 2020. The platform was built for anyone to access, with people asked to capture their thoughts around the strict isolation to the gradual easing of social distancing rules to the return to school and to where we are today.

Contributing writers from across Australia connected with each other through common experiences and attitudes. The Files provided a safe place for students, poets and writers who wanted to share their story of isolation, concern, home-schooling, song lyrics and poetry. With over 1000 diverse entries, from across the state, the platform proved to be a popular place for people to reach out, particularly young people. The Library built relationships with new audiences including in regional NSW and Western Sydney. The oldest writer was 102 and the youngest just 4 years old.

State Library Queensland – ANZAC Stories

ANZAC Stories was developed as an online response to commemorate ANZAC Day and to promote content available at State Library of Queensland when ANZAC Day events were cancelled due to COVID-19. The Library commissioned Alkira Software to develop a voice-activated application to allow Queenslanders to request a poppy be left on their behalf at ANZAC Square Memorial Galleries via their smartphone or device. The service also offered the opportunity to listen to The Last Post, stories of past and present serving members of the armed forces, from State Library’s collections, and observe a minute silence.

Developed in four weeks, ANZAC Stories responded to the inability for thousands of Queenslanders to commemorate those who served, and an opportunity to explore the potential for voice activation to be more than a simple transaction. People from all over Australia, as well as the USA, NZ and the UK requested poppies. The option to request an email with a photograph of ‘your poppy’ in the Memorial Galleries allowed the Library to connect with new users and engagement has continued post-ANZAC Day, reinvigorated as part of 75th Anniversary of Victory in the Pacific and Remembrance Day.



Representing VALA, Katie Haden presents the 2020 VALA Award for Crisis Response Award to Anna Raunik from SLQLD.




We wish to acknowledge some of the other institutions who submitted entries:

  • Eastern Regional Libraries Corporation – “Click for Home Delivery”

Providing an ongoing service that would lift community spirit in challenging times, Eastern Regional Libraries ‘Click for Home Delivery’ service utilised Australia Post and other services such as SupportPal and OptimoRoute to deliver books, DVDs and other items to its members homes. Achieving 80+ deliveries (almost 800 items) per van per day, ERL has managed to deliver over 70,000 items to members since April, giving staff a great sense of purpose and pride as they rose to the challenge of providing meaningful services to its communities whilst keeping members supported and connected.

  • Geelong Regional Library Corporation – Passion, Pivot, Platform

The Geelong Regional Library Corporation’s submission explored the GRLC response to the challenge of the COVID-19 crisis through implementing lean and quick investment in the technology scaffolding to enable working (and learning) from home, delivery of new services to the community and a more inclusive communications platform.

  • State Library Victoria – Think Tank Project

The Think Tank Project was an initiative to support 123 staff and 40 Library volunteers to engage with meaningful work from home during the long periods the Library was closed. Think Tanks Projects included State Library Victoria on Wikipedia, Image Metadata Updating, Trove Text Correction and Photographing the Pandemic. The diversity of work offered through the Think Tank projects kept staff and volunteers engaged with the Library, provided a distraction from life during the Pandemic and contributed significantly towards their wellbeing.

  • Yarra Plenty Regional Library – Caring Calls Project

The aims of Yarra Plenty Regional Library’s Caring Call Project were to provide senior members with access to their local community information, assistance to access YPRL resources at home, and, to reduce social isolation for this vulnerable group of people during the COVID-19 crisis. YPRL also wanted to maintain a connection to the library for this community group who are among its most regular visitors. YPRL staff called every library member over the age of 70 to check in amid Victoria’s COVID lockdown, making 7000 calls.

VALA Award 2018

The winner of the 2018 VALA Award is:

State Library of Queensland – Tunley Braille Globe project

The creation of a 3D printed replica of a fragile 1950s Braille globe to enable use and interaction with the object in the way it was originally intended.

State Library of Queensland holds a collection related to the Narbethong Special School at Buranda, the Narbethong School for Visually Handicapped Children and Richard Frank Tunley Collection 1940-1968. The collection focuses on the work of Richard Frank Tunley, who dedicated his life to improving the lives of visually impaired children and adults through the production of braille globes and maps as well as models, toys, doll houses and games.





One of Tunley’s braille globes was selected for inclusion in a 2018 State Library Exhibition, Magnificent Makers The globe required conservation treatment, and due to its fragility was not able to be used or interacted with in the way it was intended in the exhibition, or by library clients. This was identified as a barrier to access, which affects many collection items in libraries and museums. Look, but don’t touch may be appropriate for some collections, where the visual impact is a central part of the experience. But for a Braille globe, in particular, not being able to touch the Braille renders the object a mere curiosity, rather than a powerful link to the experience of visually impaired children learning about the world.

State Library wanted to explore the possibilities of 3D printing of collection objects at the highest quality, as a way to bring objects out of display cabinets. 3D models were created using scanning and photogrammetry to capture the details of the globe at very high levels of detail. The 3D models of the globe and the globe and its stand were then enhanced and printable files developed. User testing was undertaken at Braille House by staff and volunteers with vision impairments, and indicated that the Braille markings in the reproduction print were difficult to discern as the Braille on the original had been worn down through use. It was decided to enhance the Braille marks in the 3D printed version. An industrial designer enhanced each braille marking to create even and legible Braille and then create the final printable files.

The 3D printed globe is available in the John Oxley Reading Room at the State Library of Queensland for viewing, and touching!



We wish to acknowledge some of the other institutions who submitted entries:

  • Education Services Australia  for “Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) Infrastructure Upgrade”

The project to rebuild the SCIS infrastructure was focussed on improving the user experience for school librarians, through making accessing SCIS and importing records simpler, and enhancing the quality of data within SCIS records.

  • RMIT University for “Alma D for Managing Digital Resources”

Alma D is a cloud based digital collection repository system and a new feature of the Ex Libris ILMS Alma, which enables the user to manage digital resources alongside print and electronic within the same system.

  • Victorian Parliamentary Library and Information Service for “Electorate Maps site”

The project provided Members, electorate officers, parliament staff and members of the public with a comprehensive set of online electorate maps, showing Federal, State and Local Government electoral boundaries, with overlays of a wide range of points of interest within each electorate.

  • Bond University Library for “Journal Request – Accelerating Systematic Reviews”

The Centre’s goals for this feature were to streamline the processes of sourcing full text through the automation of document delivery requests for articles. Specifically, for an individual starting with a set of citations in Endnote to submit a batch of requests with no manual typing or pasting of citation data into an online form or interface. The Library’s goals in this project were to tailor its document delivery (resource sharing) service to support the Centre’s research through the automation of batch request submissions.

  • University of Wollongong University for “Library Makerspace”

The UOW Library Makerspace offers students a technology-rich, highly creative environment to innovate, create and share their learning and knowledge outside of formal study channels in a discipline inclusive setting.

VALA Award 2016

The joint winners of the 2016 VALA Award are:

  • National Library of Australia – edeposit serviceVALA Award NLA 250
    A one-stop-shop for publishers, the edeposit service is the public interface of an end-to-end digital collection management system, fully integrated with other NLA systems, enabling Australian publishers to deposit Australian digital publications in accordance with the new legal deposit provisions of the Copyright Act.

    Alison Dellit, Director, Australian Collection Management, and her colleagues Meredith Batten, Julie Watson, Kate Ross & Brendan McKinley were present to receive the award.

Access the recording:

  • University of Melbourne – data forensics labVALA Award Uni Melb 250
    The development of this service and lab is a first nationally for an academic library and a response to a growing demand to access and extract valuable research data and files from now obsolete systems and media. The Data service and forensics lab offers a range of services for examining, analyzing, recovering, re-using and preserving data stored in digital media in a forensically sound manner. The Data Forensics Lab can process a variety of modern and legacy computer storage media using state of the art purpose built hardware and software.

    Peter Neish, Research Data Curator, Digital Scholarship and Donna McRostie, Associate Director, Research Information Management University Library were present to receive the award.

Access the recording and slides:

Other nominations

We wish to acknowledge other institutions who submitted entries:

  • Deakin University Library for “Communication in Context”

    Communication in Context is an innovative project that involved the custom design and development of a software platform to support an assessment task, employing a multidisciplinary team of leading students recruited from the Schools of Information Technology and Education at Deakin University. The platform will be useful for any online roleplaying activities, in addition to the assessment task it was designed to support.

  • La Trobe University Borchardt Library for “Escape Room at the Library”

    Escape Room at the Library is an engaging and interactive game. It is La Trobe University Library’s new and innovative approach to orientation for university students which brings together the digital and physical environments and capitalises on the internationally popular game, Escape Rooms.

  • La Trobe University Research Commons

    The Research Commons is a highly specialised, dedicated research collaboration space which includes a massive Visualization wall, a specialised Creative Studio, a number of break out rooms and shared, flexible, collaboration spaces. This space serves as a central, accessible and expert meeting, work and consultation space for La Trobe scholars and higher degree research students and as a key facility to attract research funding and industry partnerships. It provides a discipline-neutral space where there is expertise available to help researchers to get the best out of the technology.

  • Newcastle LibraryCivic Digest for the Library Culture Cafe and Bar

    Civic Digest was created to bridge culture and digital consumption. Civic Digest embraces that opportunity that exists for Libraries to innovate and become the great explainers! It is a partnership between Newcastle Region Library and major performing arts venue in the region, Civic Theatre, also owned and managed by Council. The Café is in the heart of Newcastle’s civic precinct located within the corner space of the Civic Theatre building. It brings leading edge library services into the spaces where people connect over coffee or pre/post theatre performances.

  • University of South Australia for Technology enabled enquiry services delivery

    This innovation consists of flexible, customisable library services where customers can engage seamlessly with the Library on demand, regardless of their location and device. At the centre of this are novel mobile and wireless technologies which make library services more visible and accessible in the physical and digital environments. Service desks have been replaced with diverse modes of accessing advice and assistance, such as proactive chat, video conference, screen share capabilities, email, telephone and the UniSA Student app. During peak times staffed library “pop ups” are set up in locations most occupied by students and service delivered via mobile devices. 


VALA Award 2014

The winner of the 2014 VALA Award is the Curtin University Library App.

2014 VALA Award winnerThe Curtin Library App provides access to Curtin Library resources and services via a mobile app that can be used on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The app enables real-time, personalised, context-sensitive information, with the ability to make bookings for library items and facilities.  

Students can:

  • Search the Curtin library catalogue, including the library’s “virtual bookshelf” ( and database lists
  • View all Curtin library information literacy and resource guides (LibGuides or those LibGuides of relevance to the user’s subject area.
  • Check items they have on loan or request, due dates, and fines information
  • Book library workshops and study rooms
  • View today’s library opening hours and availability of library computers (real-time)
  • Browse and comment on the library news blog o Use LibAnswers ( to read answers to library questions or pose a new question.
  • Through the app’s barcode scanning feature, users scan the ISBN or library barcode of any book of interest they find to initiate a search for it in the Curtin Library catalogue and check its availability/current loan status at Curtin.
  • Users can avoid the need to write down call numbers – simply displaying the catalogue record for the item on their phone while they walk the library stacks retrieving items.

Karen Tang, Associate Director, Corporate Services at Curtin University, was present to accept the award.

Other nominations

We wish to acknowledge other institutions who submitted entries:

  • Australia National University for the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) project

    The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) helps make data more valuable for Australian researchers, research institutions, and the nation. ANDS does this by improving data collection, management, connectivity, discoverability and reuse. ANDS has enabled all university libraries in Australia to build research data management capability, thereby taking on new roles within their institutions and helping to transform the profession. Thanks to ANDS’ contribution, Australia is considered one of the world leaders in this regard.

  • Deakin University for interactive installation “The Verge”

    The Verge is a series of highly engaging and visually stunning interactive touch screens. Geelong Waterfront Campus students and staff can quickly and efficiently find their way around the Library spaces, with the Verge providing assistance in way finding for both the Library and wider campus.

  • Melbourne Library Service for the 2014 ICT and Creative Spaces fit-out of their newest community hub, Library at The Dock

    The Library at the Dock is a 6 Star green energy rated building, a $26M project of which more than $1M was dedicated to the IT & AV fit out. This project included the supply and implementation of creative technologies as well as multipurpose digital screens and mobile devices.

  • Parkes Shire Library for REaDtember

    REaDtember – A yearly festival of mixed-media play and learning using social media, audiovisual technology, and unconventional media such as coffee cups, cardboard dice, and steampunk optical illusions!

  • Penrith City Library for their E-Connect Home–Library Outreach (ECHO) project

    E-Connect Home–Library Outreach (ECHO) is a new program which was introduced to the Home Library Service at Penrith City Library during the FY 2013-2014. This project provides one-to-one digital access training to targeted clients in their home using Penrith Library iPads, navigators and eResources.


VALA Award 2012

The winner of the VALA Award this year is The Research Hub, at Griffith University.

Like any large institution, Griffith University has information of variable quality, stored in a wide variety of enterprise systems, and previously had no way of bringing that information together, linking it, and presenting it in a simple and seamless interface. The Research Hub has been designed as a “simple” solution that allows information to be brought together in one place and enhanced by the people to whom it matters most: Griffith University researchers. The Hub dynamically aggregates information from multiple enterprise systems to expose Griffith’s extensive research activities and its researchers. This also saves researchers from having to enter their data into “yet another system”.

Jo Morris, Manager of eResearch Services at Griffith University, accepted the 2012 VALA Award.

VALA Award 2008

2008 VALA Award, RMIT TV News

The winner of the 2008 VALA Award is Informit TVNews, from RMIT Publishing. Informit TVNews is an online media database that has provided a synopsis and access to most news, current affairs and selected documentaries on ABC, ABC 2, SBS, 7, 9 and 10 since September 2007. This comprehensive index enables Screenrights members (including all universities, TAFEs and most schools) to search, browse and be alerted to news stories and programmes, with the option to download, save or email the videos immediately to desktop. The archive grows 24/7; stories are continuously updated to create the most comprehensive record of Australian TV news.

The VALA Award, made biennially, is presented to the Australian library or information centre judged to have made the most innovative use of information technology during the previous two years.

In 2008 VALA had the largest field of applicants to choose from. The Evaluation Subcommittee narrowed it down to a short list of 4 and then began the difficult task of nominating just one to receive that award. We all felt that the short listed projects were worthy of the recognition. All have made innovative use of technology, all have made a significant contribution to service delivery for their organisations, all have had a significant impact upon their clients. All have that wow factor that impressed us.

We wish to acknowledge the runners-up:

  • The Business Intelligence Database, an environmental scanning solution provided by library staff at the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics). Automated information feeds, from a wide range of sources, are collated in a single database and sorted into subject specific categories. ABS staff are then alerted to new content through an email subscription service.
  • ATO eLibrary – a dynamic desktop information toolkit built and delivered by the ATO eLibrary team. eLibrary is an integrated suite of products that provides a “one stop shop” – an information tool kit tailored to the needs of the key client groups in the Tax Office.
  • Monash University’s Federated repositories of X-ray diffraction images, a cooperative project between the Library, the faculty of Medicine and the ARROW and ARCHER projects.

VALA Award 2010

This winner of the VALA Award this year is iBIMS™ – The Digital Link @ Willoughby City Library.

A Chinese OPAC available via the internet, iBIMS™ (the Intelligent Book Information Management System) is the first truly bilingual (dual language display) web-based OPAC of its kind, bridging the communication gap between non-English speaking patrons and librarians who cannot speak the native language for accessing the LOTE (Language Other Than English) language collection. It can be run on any PC, handheld device or any smartphone with a web browser and internet connection.

iBIMS™ is also setting the standard for a multi-lingual web-based search engine for other ethnic languages such as Korean, Japanese and Greek.

Congratulations, Michele Burton!


VALA Award 2006

Deb Stumm and Christine Sayer, State Library of Queensland Queensland Stories: community, collections and digital technology at the State Library of Queensland