With China being South Australia’s highest export partner, the Government of South Australia has been effectively engaging with China through a long-term partnership with Shandong Province, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016.
The Government’s vision is ‘to strengthen the State’s partnership with China and enhance and deepen our long-term engagement in areas encompassing investment, trade and business, education, sport, culture, the arts, sciences, and the exchange of people, skills and ideas’.
After hosting two librarians from the Shandong Provincial Library in 2016, the State Library of South Australia (SLSA) further strengthened the relationship and networks with is sister-state province of Shandong, by sending Andrew Piper, Group Manager, Collections and Sharon Morris, Community Learning Educator to Jinan, in April-May 2017.
Areas of discussion included the partnering in an exhibition of materials from the Provincial Library’s Ancient Books department scheduled for September 2018 and a return exhibition of SLSA materials; approaches to online engagement with collections and education programs.
A large part of the excellent program developed for the SLSA visitors was the introduction to the culture of the people of Shandong along with visits to significant sites discussions, lectures and library tours.
In their three weeks abroad, Andrew and Sharon, gained an understanding of the Shandong approach to daily life, business and preservation of cultural heritage.
Immersion in Shandong culture gave context to the people’s approach to daily life, business and of course, the unpacking of information from artefacts and what is known as intangible heritage. The latter is very prominent and is an integral part of life where as in South Australia, local stories and history can often be overshadowed by a centralized media which has a focus on the larger states and cities.
While being far apart geographically, both institutions are similar in their care and sharing of cultural artefacts, whether online or through exhibition and sharing of these.
We also have similar attitudes to developing websites and the adherence to international standards
The visit was an excellent opportunity to strengthen ties between the intuitions, and will no doubt benefit ongoing exchange of information and ideas.
The visit and immersion into local culture had a remarkable effect on Sharon and Andrew who are both now keen to maintain the relationship with not only the library and staff but also with South Australia’s relationship to Shandong Province.
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