VALA Events 2021: 2020 VALA Award for Crisis Response – SLNSW The Diary Files

VALA invites you to this special event when we award the 2020 VALA Award for Crisis Response to the second of the joint recipients, State Library of New South Wales for The Diary Files project. Join us online on Wednesday 17 March 2021 at 12.00 – 1.00pm AEDT.

Presenters: Richard Neville, Mitchell Librarian and Director, Engagement SLNSW and Paula Bray, DX Lab Leader SLNSW.

2020 VALA Award for Crisis Response

Topic: State Library of  New South Wales presents “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 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.

Find out how and why the State Library of NSW quickly built a community generated story-telling platform, during the peak lockdown period in NSW, to capture the emotional and poetic moments of life in and around NSW.

Guest Speakers:

Richard Neville is Mitchell Librarian and Director, Engagement at the State Library of NSW. Richard has been extensively involved in the acquisition, arrangement, description and promotion of the Mitchell Library’s renowned Australian research collections. He has also published widely on, and curated many exhibitions about, nineteenth century Australian art and society.

Paula Bray has over twenty years’ experience working in cultural heritage institutions, including the State Library of NSW, Powerhouse Museum, Art Gallery of NSW and the Australian National Maritime Museum.
As the DX Lab Leader at the State Library of NSW she leads the innovation lab that builds and supports new ways of design thinking, experimentation and research with technology. The DX Lab delivers creative and engaging ways to explore the Library’s collection, data sets and services through digital experiments.




Online Webinar

FREE to attend for members and non-members.

Registration is essential and numbers are limited. Registration will be confirmed via email. Group participation is welcome.


Those seeking to cancel a registration are encouraged to contact the VALA Secretariat asap – registration numbers are limited for this event, and we appreciate prior advice if you are unable to attend. Please contact the VALA Secretariat (E: or Tel: 03 9844 2933).


Wednesday 17 March 2021, 12.00 midday – 1.00pm AEDT.

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