Speaking of Calliope

Group of people sitting in front of booth
Image: Residents enjoying Calliope Library’s new Speakeasy space.

Where can the Calliope flappers and flaming youths or the Macs and their dames go for some java and jawing? Bumping gums and looking swanky, just follow the sound of laughter, down the narrow lane beside the community hall, turn left at the vege gardens and you’ll find Calliope’s newest attraction. Welcome to the Calliope Library Speakeasy!

As a librarian, you won’t hear me telling my customers to “speak easy” to avoid the attention of the Bulls and Coppers, it’s all about having fun and trying something new (and an excuse to throw some 20’s slang about). There’s also no alcohol, but I do make some decent homemade foot juice (wine) so maybe that can be a session topic for later this year.

The Calliope Library was successful in getting some clams (money) for a microgrant from State Library and used it to create a vibrant and welcoming space at the front of the library. The idea is modeled on the traditional speakers’ corner public performance idea, but I wanted to sound a bit less traditional and formal. The Calliope Library Speakeasy is a space for people to come, relax and listen at this outdoor venue where the community are permitted (and encouraged) to give public talks and performances.

Why a Speakeasy? Well it stems from the Calliope Seed Library and Garden. I like to think of the library as #MoreThan4Walls, and the #HomeMakerSpace garden and seed library were just the tip of the iceberg, so my attention turned to the open space at the front of Calliope Library.

The Calliope Library Speakeasy project has allowed me to create a space that provides a free and safe environment for creative expression, learning and socialisation and allows me to expand the range of programs offered (at minimal price). Just look at the before and after shots (pictured below, left (before) and right (after).

It’s been a real community effort. The local Men’s Shed is “the absolute berries” and built tables around my existing umbrellas, which have been a hit. Various departments throughout Council have helped me match materials to my idea, the local bonsai group jumped in to be our first info session and the local storytellers can’t wait for the next open mic night.

Being a small-town branch, I wanted to offer a space for locals to learn and share their knowledge (and talent). Just like it’s namesake with gradual growth we aim to expanded to many different formats with new additions of entertainment and informal education making the Calliope Library Speakeasy one of the biggest events in town since prohibition time (totally the bees knees).

About the author
Jamie Treble is Senior Library Officer at Gladstone City Council

Images courtesy of Gladstone City Council.