What is a ‘social change library’?
The Commons Social Change Library exists to make activism smarter and stronger. We gather the collective wisdom of people engaged in social change in one accessible online place. All of our materials are free, digital, and directly available.
The Commons Library includes educational resources on campaign strategy, community organising, digital campaigning, communications and media, working effectively in groups, fundraising, diversity and inclusion and much more. Resources are available in a range of formats including videos, podcasts, manuals, case studies, articles, practical how-to guides, and training materials.
I use the Commons Library frequently, as do my organiser colleagues at work. I share it with community groups I work with because your curation is always up to date and relevant. It’s user friendly in particular the way you categorise and allow people to search for the kind of media they prefer. – Tria Manley, The Wilderness Society
The Commons Library is a public library for the benefit of the Australian public, informing and equipping people to influence public policy and engage in political structures. This online library also has many global inputs and visitors. We collect, curate and distribute the key lessons and resources of progressive movements around Australia and across the globe.
The Commons pays respects to the traditional owners of the land in which we operate and wherever this site is accessed. We recognise the central importance of struggles for Indigenous self-determination and justice within the broad project of creating a progressive future.
Why ‘the Commons’?
The name ‘the Commons’ references the common good, the shared property of all people. The Wikipedia entry on the commons states:
The commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately. Commons can also be understood as natural resources that groups of people (communities, user groups) manage for individual and collective benefit.
We view the collective intelligence of people as part of the commons so we gather and share the best thinking of people involved in social change to support future action.
Guided by this concept the Commons:
- Is free of cost to use and does not operate for profit
- Is equitable, inclusive and accessible
- Aims to be beneficial to many
- Reflects inputs from many
- Has a culture that celebrates cooperation and collaboration
Please note that all additions of materials to the Commons Library have been made with good will, with the intention of appropriate acknowledgement and respect for licenses. If you have any concerns about the inclusion or presentation of materials on the Commons please contact us to discuss.
For more information about the Commons Library Limited or any of our resources or projects, please contact a Librarian.
How do I use the Commons Library?
- Use the Search box on the home page.
- Visit the Browse page to view the topics, collections and formats on the Commons Library. Click on what interests you and navigate from there.
- You can refine your search by using the filters (Refine by Format, Refine by Topic, Refine by Author, Refine by Collection).
- Explore the A – Z tags.
- Access our curated guides: New to Activism, Organising and Campaigning? Start Here!
- Contact the Librarians if you can’t find what you need.
I regularly hear from people how valuable The Commons Library is. For me it’s the curated summaries on issues/moments/ideas and the way that means you can go broad or deep on whatever the question you’re trying to answer is. – Isabella Morand, ChangeMakers Organising School
What do the Commons Librarians do?
- Build and maintain the Commons Library, the ‘go-to portal’ for social change resources.
- Monitor trends and needs in social movements and respond to movement moments.
- Provide quick response resource recommendations so change makers can get back to their work quickly.
- Work with partner organisations on special projects including collating resource kits, developing curriculum, designing and cataloguing resource directories, writing case studies, and researching issues.
When I came across their website it really blew me away! I had never seen a resource centre that was alive where you can actually find things. There are many different kinds of resource centres – there’s the back of the closet where things accumulate, there’s the filing cabinet you never go back to… this is the opposite, a living resource centre – growing, adapting and thriving. – Marshall Ganz
Who runs the Commons Library?
The Commons Library is staffed by a nimble part-time team made up of Holly Hammond, Antje Dun, Iain McIntyre and Aoife Carli Hannan.
The Commons Library is governed by a board of experienced community leaders. See our annual report for staff and board details.
Volunteers are a crucial part of the Commons team. Find out more about what our volunteers do and how to join our volunteer team.
The website was developed by Glenn Todd from ActionSkills.
Who contributes resources to the Commons Library?
The Commons Library is made up of several collections contributed by capacity building and campaigning not-for-profit organisations. See our Browse page for an overview of collections. We also host materials contributed by hundreds of individuals engaged in social change.
If you are interested in contributing resources to the Commons Library contact a Librarian. Please note that we only accept content with a social change focus. We do not accept promotional material or articles designed to increase traffic to other sites for commercial benefit.
For guidance see Writing for the Commons Library.
What a tremendous and user-friendly resource The Commons Library is. As the only employee in my organisation that works on advocacy, organising, and campaigning I rely on the library as my instant brains trust. The website is intuitive, the librarians knowledgeable, and the collection is constantly growing. – Sarina Foulstone, Council on the Ageing NSW (COTA)
Who funds the Commons?
The Commons Library is a charitable organisation with Deductible Gift Recipient status. We operate with philanthropic support, grants, project partnerships, and donations.
In 2022 the Commons Library volunteer project is funded by the John T Reid Trust. In 2023 we will undertake the Making Advocacy Accessible project with a grant from the State Trustees of Victoria.
The Commons library is a wonderful one-stop shop for social change resources. The site is useful, easy to use, comprehensive, and best of all it’s free! It has really helped me prepare training for our volunteers on meeting with their MP, doing a power analysis and other topics. I’ve recommended it to several of my keen volunteer organisers and use it myself regularly. – Lexie Keller Sheard, TEAR Australia
What’s new at the Commons?
- See the featured resources on the Home page and the What’s New links.
- Subscribe to our newsletter for updates.
- View past editions of the newsletter.
The Commons is committed to being accessible to the breadth of the Australian public and beyond. We aim to overcome barriers to access including those related to ability, education levels, language, income, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and any other oppression or systemic disadvantage.
Please note the Commons is reviewing our website and email newsletter in line with the recommendations in our article Improving Your Website Accessibility. We recognise that we have a number of improvements to make. If you have feedback, questions or require resources in a different format contact us via the contact form or email directly librarians(at)commonslibrary.org and we’ll do our best to assist.