ETL507 Study Visit: Sydney 2014

Day Three: Jessie Street Women’s Library and The Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS)

Jessie Street Women’s Library

jessie

Passion would be the first word that comes to mind when asked to describe the Jessie Street National Women’s Library. The women that run this library certainly believe in the library’s purpose and pursue it with passion. The library is dedicated to the preservation of Australian women’s work, words and history. It was eye opening to learn that every librarian within the organisation is unpaid and simply volunteers their services. Despite being volunteers their collection development policy is updated every two years and consistently adhered to. They consider themselves as a repository more so than a library and look for unique material for women, by women and about women. A fascinating fact that I learnt about this library is that they have no government funding and are completely self-funded. Their funding is raised through bequests, donations, lifetime memberships and monthly and annual fundraising. This means that they do not have to answer to any government body and are free to run the library as they choose, collecting what they please.

The Jessie Street National Women’s Library’s strengths are that it is run by a passionate and enthusiastic team, it is also self-funded and therefore has no restrictions placed upon it in terms of collection acquisition and development. The Jessie Street National Women’s Library’s major weaknesses is continuity. Being run by volunteers means that continuity can be broken ie. jobs can take longer to do because the staff need to be trusted, dependable and consistent in their attendance and work skills. During the study visit I was surprised to learn that the library is not currently collecting information about today’s women from any digital platforms. This I believe is largely due to the age of volunteers, who are all of retirement age, but also because the volunteers seemed to dismiss the importance of such platforms. By not collecting this information it means in future years to come that a large chunk of feminist history will be lost.

The Jerzy Toeplitz Library at the Australian Film Television and Radio School

aftrs

The Jerzy Toeplitz Library at the Australian Film Television and Radio School was a rewarding visit. The library collection contains education and research resources related to the screen arts and broadcast sectors. The library is certainly state of the art with database services, e-reserve services, streamed videos and more. The library’s collection consists of more than 12,000 DVD’s/Blu-ray’s and over 23,000 books. The library did not provide budget figures but it did not seem to be short on funding especially when I learnt that the library sends users an SMS if they have any outstanding loans rather than an email. The library also receives some government funding which means that the library is able to be used by the public but the library does restrict the type of borrowing the public can do. It was interesting to learn that each week a selection of recently acquired resources goes on display in the library and that a list of newly acquired titles is emailed to staff and students to keep them up to date on new acquisitions.

The Jerzy Toeplitz Library at the Australian Film Television and Radio School’s strengths are that they train their users in information seeking skills and teach students to evaluate the authority of the information they are using. Another strength of the library is that it collects many hard to find documentary’s and short films required by many of its users. The Jerzy Toeplitz Library at the Australian Film Television and Radio School did not seem to have any obvious weaknesses, other than its broadband stream can be temperamental. Whilst visiting the library it was great to see that the librarians not only supported their students in their research/study but that they also felt that in some small way they had helped their students to become successful in their chosen fields of television or radio. It was also interesting to learn that most student films made at AFTRS are available to borrow or view in the library.

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