February 17, 2018

Ellen Forsyth | Movers & Shakers 2011 – Tech Leaders

Library Journal March 15, 2011: Ellen Forsyth, Mover & Shaker


Ellen Forsyth’s customers are 2,344 library workers in 99 libraries and 374 locations spread across more than 300,000 square miles in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, as well as the library users they serve. That’s why she focuses on delivering online tools tailored to local needs.

With the help of collaborators, Forsyth adapted the Ohio Library Council’s online reference excellence training program for librarians—and then expanded it under a Creative Commons license to encourage others to use the material. The NSW version, Reference Excellence—”ref-ex” for short—debuted as a wiki in 2009. The project also had a side benefit: it spurred the working group members to develop new skill sets, like wiki editing and web ­analytics.

In January 2011, she launched another collaborative effort, the Twitter Reading Group 2011, which serves as a reading challenge clearinghouse. Each month promotes another genre via a hashtag: January, #suagb (Scare up a good book—horror); February, #heartreads (romance); March, #specfic (fantasy). Open to all readers, it has attracted participants from all parts of Australia.

A phrase pinned to her corkboard captures Forsyth’s philosophy: “You can get anything done if you don’t mind who gets the credit.”


Ellen Forsyth, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

CURRENT POSITION Consultant, Public Library Services, State Library of New South Wales (on leave)

DEGREE Graduate Diploma in Information Management, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 1986; Masters in Local Government Management, University of Technology, Sydney, 1997

COLEADERThe Bookends Scenarios, a Report on Alternative Futures for the Public Library Network (tinyurl.com/yeqsmda)

ORGANIZER First Australian games and libraries seminar held at the State Library of NSW; a section is included in World of Warcraft (gamesandlibraries.wetpaint.com)

FOLLOW @ellenforsyth; readplayparticipate.blogspot.com