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Friends of the Library Case Study


Catherine Hill Bay [CHB] is a sleepy heritage-listed village nestled in the NSW hinterland just south of Swansea. Named after the ill-fated ship that ran aground there in 1867, Catherine Hill Bay is a former coal-mining town, with its 19th-century miners’ cottages marking the oldest continuous settlement in the City of Lake Macquarie. Featuring a stunning patrolled beach, named twice as one of Australia’s 101 Best Beaches, Catherine Hill Bay is popular for swimming, surfing and fishing. The beach also features an iconic former coal-loading jetty, an enduring reminder of the area’s mining history and a popular photographic backdrop.


While CHB enjoys easy access to three larger towns: Swansea, Gwandalan, and Morisset, all with public libraries, heritage-minded locals’ intent on preserving the unique history of the village came together in 2008 to found the Catherine Hill Bay Public Library [CHBPL].  The library is the focal point of cultural and intellectual life in CHB, running regular free programs for various special interest groups, including preschoolers, schoolaged children, and senior citizens. In 2015, the library founders formed the Friends of the Library Association [FOLA] to promote greater historical and cultural awareness in CHB. Funded entirely by public donations, FOLA has hosted a series of talks, exhibitions, and concerts by local writers, artists, and musicians. While FOLA runs a special Indigenous Week each year, featuring works by local Indigenous artists, it recently came under fire when billionaire Canadian businessman Joseph Abenaki [who has a summer home in CHB], publicly accused CHBPL of being a racist organization, staffed entirely by white people and steeped in white supremacy culture. Claiming Canadian Indigenous heritage, which has been questioned by Canadian Indigenous groups, Abenaki is encouraging locals to boycott the library until its staff meets a series of demands, including undergoing antiracist training, featuring specific Commonwealth Indigenous artists on a defined timetable, and making an annual donation to Indigenous artists of Mr. Abenaki’s choosing.


FOLA administrators are disappointed that Mr Abenaki went directly to the press without speaking with them first and giving them a chance to address his concerns. CHBPL already makes several sizeable annual donations to local Indigenous nonprofits and has a published recruitment policy that stipulates Indigenous applicants will be given preference. And contrary to Mr Abenaki’s claims of a “100% white staff,” five of the library’s twelve employees identify as BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color]. However, FOLA staff are unsure of what to do, as they are receiving considerable abuse in local newspapers and on social media from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians who are now demanding accountability, with some even calling for CHBPL staff to resign.

Your Role:  Dorothy Neill

Dorothy Neill is Director of FOLA and a charter member of CHBPL. Before retiring, she ran a wildly successful catering business in Sydney, which she later sold to a celebrity chef for $5M. While quiet and demure, looking every bit the librarian, Dorothy is a corporate veteran who knows her way around business and recognizes the current crisis as a ticking time bomb that must be defused slowly and carefully if the library and FOLA are to survive.  She is frustrated on many levels. Having endured more than her share of sexism in establishing a successful small business in a male-dominated culture, she believes she is being bullied yet again by another powerful male businessman. She is also feeling protective of her staff, particularly the BIPOC members, as she herself identifies as BIPOC, with her great grandmother having survived the Stolen Generations. While she rarely speaks of her cultural background and has never identified publicly as Indigenous, she is disappointed that Mr Abenaki seems to be exploiting his cultural background for personal gain.


CHBPL is a young and vulnerable organization, one that Dorothy, her staff, and the entire community take great pride in. Dorothy is keenly aware that one misstep could mean the end of the library that she has devoted her entire retired life to, investing thousands of dollars of her own money each year and working hard to attract donors to ensure its success. While CHBPL and FOLA staff are understandably angry and tempted to publish rebuttals, having clear data to support these, Dorothy is mindful of the further harm a defensive stance might inflict. Meanwhile, the five CHBPL BIPOC staff members are outraged that they have been “whitewashed” by Mr Abenaki and want Dorothy to “make it right” by making a formal statement to the media. One of them, a female, has confided in Dorothy that Mr Abenaki has a bad reputation for sexist attitudes towards women and outdated policies and practices concerning women in the businesses he runs. Making matters worse, as Dorothy engages in further research, she discovers that the artists Mr Abenaki is demanding CHBPL promote are either family members or business associates, which constitutes an egregious conflict of interest. She also finds in local council records a development application recently lodged by Mr Abenaki for the creation of a commercial Indigenous Cultural Centre, a capital venture with hefty admission fees, a bookstore, a gift shop, and guided sightseeing excursions, with no mention of how or whether profits will support local Indigenous communities.

Other Considerations

The mayor of Catherine Hill Bay is deeply concerned about the bad press the CHBPL incident is generating for Catherine Hill Bay and has advised Dorothy in no uncertain terms that if this matter cannot be resolved peacefully, he will have no choice but to rescind the library’s charter. The specter of racism is more than a small coastal town reliant on tourism can afford, particularly after the BLM movement and unprecedented public attention on BIPOC issues.

CHBPL donors are also becoming nervous, indicating privately to Dorothy that unless the matter is resolved “swiftly and satisfactorily,” they will be forced to withdraw their annual support, since they cannot afford to be seen as supportive of an organization that engages in racism and white supremacy.

                If you dont  know how to ansewer teh qeustion , you can refer the sample ,but you can not copy , writer5  questionpart (Answer the 5 question)。Also this work  you shoule write on the case stdy flie.

Discussion Questions

Answer each of the following discussion questions in your Post-Assessment Memo.

  • After researching Australian culture and business practices, discuss some of the issues that writers should consider when writing to an Australian audience, particularly an Indigenous audience.
  • Should Neill’s response to the problem take into consideration the significant personal funds she has invested in CHBPL? Discuss the ramifications of Neill’s status at CHBPL as founder, director, and investor.
  • Examine the significance of Neill’s Indigenous heritage, which she has never made public. If she reveals it publicly in this context, what are the implications?
  • Neill’s handling of Abenaki’s complaint directly impacts the future of CHBPL. As Neill, does the possibility of losing the organization you are so personally invested in make a difference to how you solve the CHBPL situation?
  • As the Director of a non-profit, what could Neill learn from the CHBPL case to improve the effectiveness of her leadership skills and avoid future similar conflicts?

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