Melbourne Art Library is a not-for-profit library providing an accessible and specialised collection of art and design books, serials, zines and other publications for the local arts community. It aims to connect emerging practitioners, the art-curious, and established researchers and arts professionals with hard to access resources. As an alternative to traditional research libraries, MAL has an open-door policy, encouraging collaboration, exploration, and tangential research.
Artists make up some of the lowest paid members of Australian society. Australia Council for the Arts' 'Making Art Work' report (2017) records the median wage of visual artists for the year 2014-2015 as $34,400, with only $5200 of that coming from 'creative income'. Artists need resources to develop their work. Yet, fine art and design publications are some of the most expensive.
Library collections pool resources, allowing greater access to focused books and information than the typical individual could otherwise access or afford. However, within the current model of libraries in Australia, there is a great divide between public libraries and restricted-access research libraries. Many key resources remain out of reach for the average working artist. The Melbourne Art Library will provide resources to a group of people who are interested in art beyond a general-interest level but are not pursuing defined research ends, or who cannot afford to access university libraries. This may include emerging visual artists, independent filmmakers, and arts writers.
More than just building a collection, libraries build communities. MAL will be an accessible space for similarly interested and passionate people to meet, exchange ideas, and to keep up-to- date with developments in the wider art community. It will provide a network of peer-support, further bolstering the work of Artist Run Initiatives and other exhibition spaces across Australia. MAL will increase the ability of artists to continue to make meaningful contributions to the community in increasingly uncertain economic times.
As an alternative library outside of an institutional or government parent body, MAL will further encourage curiosity, critique and exploration. This alternative community will provide a testing ground for vibrant, radical, and innovative ideas, which can shape the future of arts practice in Australia.
Melbourne Art Library Inc. is a registered not-for-profit organisation in Victoria and a Registered Charity with the goal of advancing culture.
While we seek to challenge traditional models of knowledge institutions, and what it means to be a 'library', MAL is committed to up-keeping international standards of librarianship and engaging suitably qualified staff. Operating a professional library ensures the preservation of our collection material, the accessibility of our resources, and ultimately the longevity of our organisation.
We will improve the public accessibility of art and design information and resources
We will foster the critical discussion of art and design practice in Australia, Asia, and the Pacific
We will establish and foster an appreciation of art and design in Australia
We will challenge traditional Euro-centric art historical discourses
We will encourage the debate and questioning of dominant narratives
We will encourage meaningful community interaction and discussion
We are mindful of our position on the stolen lands of the Wurundjeri people
We encourage the establishment of counter-institutions
We support local arts practice and local publishing ventures
We listen to and cultivate community participation and feedback
We will will achieve our purposes by:
Operating a specialised art and design library collection that is publicly accessible
Collecting art and design information resources which are lacking or inaccessible in more traditional libraries
Collecting, recording, and cataloguing the history of art and design practice in Melbourne and Australia
Promoting and providing educational opportunities for artists and those interested in the arts
Fostering a collaborative and experimental arts environment and developing a network of peer support
Collaborating with other organisations
Jenna Muir | Development Coordinator is an art history student and arts-worker. She was a recent Special Events intern at MoMA, New York and has worked in Advancement at the University of Queensland Art Museum. She previously worked as a floral designer for large events.
Nell Fraser | Library Coordinator is passionate about access and community engagement with local histories. She has worked across cultural collections in Canberra and Melbourne - including as a librarian at the National Museum of Australia's Research Library - and has a background in Art History and Theory. She is currently completing postgraduate studies in Librarianship and working as a freelance archivist for artists and arts organisations.
Fi Wilson | Media and Marketing Coordinator is a creative producer. She has founded her own film festival, produced theatre works, and is currently working in the film industry. She has a passion for social justice and access, and has completed studies in law and marketing
Linda Mickleborough | Chair has extensive experience across the visual and performing arts in the not-for-profit, government, and private sectors. She has held previous leadership positions including Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and General Manager and Co-CEO of Circus Oz. She currently works as an arts consultant and mentor, and has a particular interest in cross cultural collaborations and First Nations creative practise. Linda holds a Graduate Certificate in Art History and a Masters Degree in Arts and Cultural Management (First Class Hons.), both from the University of Melbourne. She completed her thesis on collaborative leadership in the arts and cultural sectors. Linda has been a recipient of a Fellowship from the Center for Social Innovation, Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Tess Maunder | Deputy-Chair Tess Maunder is a curator, writer, editor and researcher with over ten years industry experience in Australia, the US and Asia. She is currently Executive Manager of Art Ink Publishing and VAULT Art and Culture Magazine where she oversees all aspects of the quarterly print publication; and where she is working on a new imprint. Prior to this role, Tess was Curatorial Colligate of the 11th Shanghai Biennale; Editor of Absolute Humidity; an advisor for the 2019 Creative Time Summit ‘Speaking Truth’ in New York; and has previously held academic positions with Queensland University of Technology, as well as professional roles with the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane and the State Library of Queensland; among others. Tess writes regularly for international publications, academic journals and catalogues and has a writing history of over 100 published texts, she has special passion for expanding interdisciplinary art discourse through printed matter; and for making interpersonal connections through strategic partnerships and curatorial projects.
Xiaoran Ma | Treasurer is a doctoral student based in Melbourne. She holds a Masters of Management (Finance) and a Masters of Arts and Cultural Management, both from the University of Melbourne, and has previously worked as a payroll and finance officer in the performing arts. She was a journalist and a freelance interpreter before moving to Melbourne.
Nell Fraser | Secretary
Meg Sheehan | General Member is an art historian by training and currently works in cultural administration, following several years working in government in arts and cultural policy. She has worked, researched, interned and volunteered at arts and cultural organisations, collections and libraries in Melbourne, London and Canberra. Meg has a deep fascination with the history and culture of books and book collecting, and knows first hand the value of accessible specialist research libraries.
Jenna Muir | General Member
Fi Wilson | General Member