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Twirling, twirling

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If you’re ever on the Lemon-Scented Lawns on a Monday night, you might have some questions, like: Why are there so many jugglers? What the heck is that rope for? Is that hula-hoop on fire? The Monash Club of Juggling and Firetwirling has long been one of the strangest sights on campus, but they’re also one of the
most welcoming clubs. Maddy Luke managed to get Anthony Embleton to sit still for five minute to chat about his experiences in our local circus.

How did you get involved with MCJAF?
I found out about it through Host Scheme Camp, where we actually get most of our members. It’s good exposure.

Is there something unique about this club that makes people more inclined to join?
I think a big part about it is that it’s super inclusive, which is why jaffys go for it. You know, it’s one of the first experiences they have at uni and it’s with people who are just open and brilliant and who accept just about anything. It’s the kind of thing that most people wouldn’t normally think to try so we try to be as accepting as we can.

Do a lot of people come into MCJAF with prior experience with juggling and firetwirling?
A few people do, but those are usually people who have already been doing it and then realise ‘oh, we have a club for it.’ Like, for me, I came into it with absolutely no experience, and just loved it, and kept going.

I’m guessing this means you have some kind of training?
Because everyone in the club pretty much started from the beginning at the club, everyone is willing to teach anyone new things. First week of every semester, we usually have our beginner workshops going on, so people can try anything, and it’s a super friendly environment. Anyone that wants to learn the thing can ask somebody and they will teach them the thing. But really that’s true throughout the year.

Are there any mid-year events for people who want to join them?
People can join at any time. We have our Jams every Monday, where you can rock up, see if you like it, if not, well, then it’s not your thing. But yeah, like I said, anyone’s happy to teach at any time, so just rock up and do what you want to do, and there will be somebody there to help you. Everyone plays with their toys, learns new tricks, practices. A lot of it is just people hanging out because there are some good people there. Every four weeks – so every four Mondays – we have a Burn, that usually involves free pizza, so ‘come down for free pizza’, and yeah, we provide the fuel for people to basically do everything they’d be doing every other week, but with fire. We run events like workshops off campus, bounce days, things like that. But basically we just… any good thing that we think is relevant, we put on.

We have performances throughout the year, not at the club, but people from schools or small businesses that want to put on a fete or something with a circus-y vibe will ask us to perform, which is a great opportunity for anyone that wants to give it a go. Then there’s the Variety show, that’s our show. People in the club put on some incredible acts for anyone to come and see.

Is there a particular selection process for that show?
We have our performance coordinator, so that’s one of our committee roles, and basically, it’s completely open. Like I said, we are an accepting club, and anyone can put forward a performance, it’s not just ‘you have to be good enough.’ The only real criterion is that you actually have a performance ready in time.

Do you have any big events coming up towards the end of semester?
We have our end of year camp coming up, after end of year exams. Camp is one of the big ones and we have a lot of stuff going on; workshops running throughout the camp, fire both nights, and at the end we have a renegade show, which is just a small show at the end of camp that doesn’t need any preparation. It can be as simple as ‘look at this new trick I learned.’ It’s a great way for people to support everyone else with what they’ve been learning.

Nice! So maybe those people who didn’t get ready in time for the variety show can perform their tricks there?
It’s not just that, it’s just a good way to encourage people to not feel embarrassed about the things they’re doing. I’ve seen bigger applauses for people getting really basic tricks for the first time than someone you’ve seen for ages with tricks you can’t even comprehend.

Obviously it’s called the Monash Club of Juggling and Firetwirling, but it’s not just limited to those things, is it?
Oh God no, I yoyo! Like, I literally just had a performance where I did nothing but yoyo – I’m the only one who does it at the moment, but the president also started which is great. Really, it’s any kind of skill toy, or even just any kind of skill that needs practising. We even have somebody who’s just started dancing lately, just because it’s a fun place to practice it.


Yeah! What’s the most unique one you’ve seen?

Ha, I feel like my yoyoing comes to mind, shameless self-plug. Though one of the more recent ones has been a guy that’s started whipping. Um… that one may… we try not to annoy people around campus with that one too much, but that one’s been pretty cool. [At the Burn] he had a giant fire whip, aw that was great. We have some acro people, which is pretty cool. It’s a circus club, so a lot of people feel it’s out there, but for us it’s started to feel normal.

Are there many members of your club who don’t take up any of these activities, and are just there because they enjoy watching other people and being there for support?
That does happen more often than I was expecting when I started, but the general trend is that eventually they’ll get into something and keep going. You see a bunch of people standing around and doing fun things and trying not to hit themselves in the face and go, ‘Oh, I wanna try that, can I learn this basic trick? Oh cool, I learned this one, now I wanna learn this next basic trick’, and keep going.

Thank you for all this! Any parting words?
It’s not a club that requires dedication. Anyone can come at any time. It’s not like a martial art or a dance or something, where other people’s learning is dependent on yours. Everybody is learning what they want at their own pace, if they even want to learn anything. Otherwise, it’s just a fun atmosphere. It’s the kind of thing where you can just come down once, try, never have to see us again.

Although, of course, you’d want to see us again.

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Survive the summer

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The end is nigh. The semester is slipping away through our fingers like salty tears shed after getting back your

Running at 601 percent

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It’s fair to say Huntingdale station and the nearby 601 bus stop are rudimentary and not as sophisticated as most other train station and bus interchanges. Lack of shelter at the interchange, poor accessibility, car parks and roads to cross would be bearable if the actual service itself was up to scratch.

But back to the bus interchange for a second. Weren’t we promised a nice shiny new upgrade that would solve all our woes? That was back in 2014, before the November State Election. The Victorian Labor Party promised $5 million for the Huntingdale upgrade. In September 2015, Monash University said it would contribute $200,000 to this upgrade. An integrated bus, taxi, car and train inter-change was promised to better connect transport links, provide shelter and improve safety.

It’s 2016 now and we still haven’t seen any significant progress. The local Member of Parliament for Oakleigh, Labor’s Steve Dimopoulos, said on Twitter “planning work was well advanced” and a final design could be expected in June. Construction will begin later this year, with work to be finished by late 2017. Public Transport Victoria did not respond to queries regarding construction or proposed designs.

One and a half years since the election isn’t a long time to wait, so let’s not point the finger at whichever party was or is now in power. It’s the lack of consultation and information that is more problematic, but the issue of upgrading some facilities is minor compared to the actual problem – the 601 bus service is not good enough.

Monash does a survey of the 601 every March and August, and between 2011 and the March 2015, patronage grew by 74% and is now the busiest bus route in Victoria. More than 6000 Monash students use the route each day. But in that time, the service has never changed from a bus frequency of every four minutes.

Back in 2014, Monash’s then Vice-Chancellor Margaret Gardner said the 601’s “existing facilities are already at capacity”. If it was at capacity two years ago, then that explains why the queue for the 601 stretches around the corner and up Huntingdale Road on an average day. A bus every four minutes in the morning and evening peak doesn’t cut it – students should not be stuck at Huntingdale waiting in line and missing classes because they can’t get on multiple buses in a row. With the car parking pressures at Clayton campus this year, poor public transport services will only become worse if they are left neglected.

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Rising out of Chaos

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Chaos. In the week leading up to a Lot’s Wife printing deadline it may seem like the paper’s middle name.

At your own pace

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For some of you reading this, it may be your final semester at uni, for others it could be a

Looking for buried treasure: in conversation with librarian Katalin Mindum

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What is your academic background?

Geography and environmental science is a passion of mine, even though I don’t have an undergrad background in it. I have had that portfolio for around eight years. Film and screen is a portfolio I got a few years ago and politics and international relations very recently – a matter of weeks. I have an Arts degree from Monash Clayton and I majored in English and History. I did a Master of Librarianship, and I just never left. Monash is an awesome place.

Could you tell me about your role as ‘sustainability representative’?

I liaise with the sustainability office, and there’s been a huge culture change in favour of having a bit of a ‘holistic’ view of everything. Infrastructure gets done internally, such as LED and solar panels; but it’s my role to encourage people to recycle more, and we’ve got compost bins and little rubbish bins on desks now, which amazingly reduces the amount of rubbish people throw away. Just trying to get people to be more responsible and do things like recycle their paper, print less, and laminate less as it makes it hard to recycle.

In regards to getting less physical books, and more online, is that to be more sustainable?

It’s not really about sustainability, mostly it’s a storage issue. We’ve dramatically reduced what we get in paper. We’ve got about a million books just at the Matheson. Constantly growing, there comes a point where you have to get rid of old, worn out things. We have an e-preferred policy and it makes things a lot easier for students to access, out on the lawns, at home, in labs, etc. It’s not always cheaper, but it is more accessible, so that is a big factor. Our numbers are constantly increasing. We have something like 800 databases, and thousands of journals.

Do you ever have the issue of not being able to find something for a student on the online library?

All the time. Particularly with researchers and post grads, so we have document delivery – previously known as interlibrary loans – where we borrow from other libraries for students, and where we will buy resources for students and researchers. Not for undergrads, but we do for postgrads.

You’re an academic librarian, how is that different from a “standard” librarian? How can you help different students across different disciplines?

There is not a big difference – most public libraries have access to very similar databases as we do, you just have to be a member of your public library. It’s possibly more predictable – we don’t have people coming in asking, how do you tell the sex of a guinea pig? It is more about assignments and after a while, if you get several students from the same unit, we contact the unit coordinator to see if we can run a class to cover that with the students. That way it’s more efficient and helpful and other students don’t miss out. We also offer essay writing and note taking classes and presentations, which public libraries don’t offer. We’ve only had those services for around 5-6 years. You try and work to fill the student’s needs.

A lot of students are just overwhelmed of the collections in the library – and people can be a bit scared of librarians and be scared of asking questions. What advice would you have for them?

I went through my undergrad not approaching a librarian. You think you’re an adult and you feel stupid for asking, but from our point of view there are no dumb questions. Once you’ve been shown how to do something, you’ll know, then you won’t need to ask again! We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t like helping people. We’re always passionate about it, even if we’re a bit grumpy sometimes because we deal with things all day long.

We tend to see mainly post grad and researchers [subject librarians] – the undergrads should go straight to the information point. If they can’t answer the question there, they will refer to the research and learning point where they can see one of us. The first ports of call are usually the catalogue, and then the library guides – which are available in a huge number of discipline areas. These may have unit specific information, special resources, course notes. Don’t be scared of the information point – that’s what they are there for!

What’s beyond the online catalogue and the bottom few floors? Can anyone look at anything in the library?

Anyone, even the general public can come in and use the collections and photocopy, although you have to be a staff or student to access databases. With the exception of the rare books collection, where you might have the Gutenberg bible which is 400-500 years old. We retrieve it for you especially in that case. We have comic books, Women’s Weekly issues, going back for decades which are classified as rare.

What sort of different things are in the library collections?

We have the biggest Jonathon Swift article collection in the southern hemisphere. Many colonial cookbooks, diaries, letters, correspondence, science fiction first editions and old volumes, such as a first edition of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World for instance. We do run exhibitions (online as well). Outside of rare books – a huge Asian collection, a huge music collection, and specialist collections, like the medical collection, which is not just books but old instruments and things that look like torture devices, or the odd skull that has been collected by someone. Other libraries have different collections – Peninsula, being education focused, they have some really cool displays of things teachers might take on rounds, like giant abacuses and skeletons. We support everything that is researched and taught here. It’s not just databases and books and journals, it’s immersing yourself into a certain discipline.

How have academic libraries changed recently due to the Internet?

Before the Internet, you’d tell the librarian what you wanted and they’d write a whole big search strategy, do it for you and give you a print out. You had cards – author, set, subject, title…typed up and filed in cabinets and that’s what we would use. The early internet was still very limited, we didn’t have many databases as most of them came on a floppy disk which you would have to load onto the computer. You wouldn’t have a computer at home, so you’d have to come in and look on the 2 or 3 computers that we had. Before Moodle there was Blackboard which was not as good, most course notes were paper based – now it’s a balance between not having enough information and having too much. One of the hardest things is to learn to search efficiently. We used to take people to reference books. Databases were paper based, and people would search through newspapers and microfilm. It now takes 5 minutes what would have taken you half a day back then.

Is online or paper better, or both?

It’s good to use both – there’s still an awful lot not available online. You do need to dig under the surface on paper or out in the field. You can’t download rock samples from a computer, and there is no single perfect book in so much for what you’re working on.

How does one become an academic librarian or subject librarian?
My path was that I did my undergrad, then a Masters’ in librarianship, that gave me a foothold into a reference librarian position. I did a lot of casual work, some loans desk, some shelving and I landed this position by pure fluke. There’s not a lot of causual postions, but that is one way of doing it. I did the course here but they are also online and at other unis such as RMIT. Then it’s just finding a job in an academic library. People do swap between school, public and academic libraries. People find a niche for themselves. There are also librarians who do indexing and cataloguing. I don’t have a geography degree but that hasn’t stopped me from being a geography librarian. You immerse yourself in the job. It’s people who love a challenge and the challenge of finding unusual things. When someone comes up and asks you for something, it’s because they don’t know how to find it. I’ve had an academic ask me about birds’ nest soup.

Bird’s nest soup?
A soup they make from special birds’ nests they harvest in Java and Indonesia. [Finding sources] it’s not always easy – you get challenges thrown up at you. We sometimes look at Wikipedia as our first resource, so we can use words and references for searching so we have an understanding of what it might be. Don’t reference it for your essays, but do use it for that purpose!

The chase, the hunt of finding information, is that your favourite part of the job?
That, and a combination of helping people, which sounds dorky, but it’s true. We won’t give you the answer but we’ll show you how to get there, as well as give guidance on referencing and writing, after all it has to look professional… although, for an open day a few years ago Monash had a house-sized billboard on Wellington Road with a typo… That got sent to the printers and no one noticed.

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Woodside or Seaside?

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In June, Monash announced a $10 million partnership with oil and gas giant, Woodside Petroleum. Monash claims that the partnership