Friday, June 03, 2011

Bouquets and perspective…

Thinking... come home with bad headache, however can’t ‘turn the brain off’, it seems so I started to think about our service we provide at our branch library.

I received the university magazine in the mail yesterday and instead of thinking, 'I know most if this from emails, work blogs and other internal communications', I read it. (Home unwell and wanting distraction.)

It was full of good things, like the new Engineering Pavilion opened by PM Gillard and new ways to treat stuttering. (My father-in-law stuttered, so personally interesting to me.)

On the last page of the magazine is a section called 'in_perspective' and this issue it is a contribution from the Director of our School of Mines, talking about the school, the two campuses and the makeup of the student body for the school. Also included are his efforts on the world stage to encourage international staff and students to join the school.
The school started in 1902 in Coolgardie and was moved into Kalgoorlie soon after.
It is a 'leading mining education school' and 'operates in the same place as the mining industry' (Hall, S. 2011 p.20 ‘Cite’)

This story made me pause, and I started to examine our branch library's contribution to this arena on this campus. How we do things, and who we connect with.

We open daily to help our students with their information needs. Classes are held in information seeking skills and other tools. Also daily, we give a multitude of answers to questions ranging from, 'can you help me find this 1959 book on metallurgy, I can't remember the author' to 'can you help me with printing on plastic overhead projector sheets (remember those??) to overlay some test results, and then scan to print?' (Staff then needed to give a quick class in scanning and text editing skills at the same time.)

More and more our services are moving online, and our local library staff are coping quite well with learning new skills and the rapid change, in our academic environment. We recently moved into a new managed operating environment, (MOE) with the staff and student PC’s and they are all coping well, despite losing all their ‘favourites’.

Our atmosphere we try to keep as a friendly one and I like that we give a human face to our service. This can include joking with the student that returns his reserve item in his pyjamas (student accommodation is next door) to avoid a fine, to allowing an ‘out of town’ (from Kambalda, Coolgardie or various mine sites) client extra minutes to complete the essential photocopying after closing time. To actually being able to read old ‘floppy disks’ with a ‘flash drive’ adapted reader, for that geologist with the important information he had forgotten to migrate to CD.

We also make welcome our international students and endeavour to help them with some of their language concerns. Our English language skills resources are very well used. During a late shift, I have weekly lively discussions with our casual staff member, who is completing his PHD in metallurgy and is originally from mainland China. We chat about Australian idioms and slang he has heard and he usually wants to explore the varied meanings of words. I still remember our discussion about 'biscuits' what they were in different countries, and what was a 'scone'?

I realise that our staff, albeit small in number, endeavour on a daily basis to
make a good contribution towards our student's information seeking needs. I realise that as ‘the librarian’ while I have learnt a lot, I am still on a steep learning curve. I have also realised over the past three and a half years that a great library staff, make a difference.

I believe we should be proud of our efforts, in bringing a great information and library service to this ‘leading mining education school’ (2011). I do, even more now I have stopped and given the idea some thought and brought it ‘into perspective’.

Bouquets to the Curtin Library-Kalgoorlie Campus Staff, you rock!


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