ETL507 Study Visit: Sydney 2014

Day One: The State Library of NSW and The ABC Sound and Reference Library

The State Library of NSW

state library

The State Library of NSW was an extremely valuable visit. I really enjoyed the Mitchell Library, the Shakespeare Room and learning about their Indigenous and Colonial Collections. I was astounded to learn that the libraries budget is in the billions, 2.142 billion to be exact. No wonder they are such a state of the art library. I was also surprised to learn that the library is not a traditional lending library but more of a repository that aims to provide learning materials for all people in NSW mostly through interlibrary loan. Visiting the State Library of NSW was a valuable experience because it has shown me where my degree can also take me career wise. I still wish to be a teacher librarian but the visit has made me think about many library positions I had never considered before.

The State Library of NSW strengths are its budget, its unique collections, its shift in staffing towards educators and its continued vision to document Australian heritage now and into the future. The State Library of NSW had very little weaknesses but one major one would be job cuts. Its scary to think that with such a big budget library positions are still being lost. The fact that the libraries insurance premiums are so high has certainly attributed to this. I found it fascinating to learn that the state library is unable to cull their old/unused stock which can also be classed as a weakness. Instead of culling their material it is moved offsite and stored in a warehouse at Moorebank. Not being able to cull the collection means that the library must be careful about the types of items they acquire, as they will be holding onto what they collect forever.

The ABC Sound and Reference Library


The ABC Sound and Reference Library was an eye opening experience. The library did not live up to my preconceived expectations. Being affiliated with the ABC I thought that the library would be up-to-date with the very latest equipment, especially in terms of technology but unfortunately this was not the case. The library is still utilising card catalogues and the library’s collection development seems to be sourced from the librarians heads, even though a collection development policy was recently developed. There is also no succession plans in place so when the current librarians leave information about how the collection runs and what should be added to the collection will be lost. This haphazard style of acquiring resources will not serve the library well as future librarians will not understand the process. Before my visit I never realised that a library could be used to serve television programs. It was great to see first hand just how diverse library services can be.

The ABC Sound and Reference Library’s strengths are that it successfully provides material to the journalists and editors of ABC television programs and maintains an extremely descriptive catalogue using the Library Management System TARA. This system not only describes resource content but also describes resource specifics such as particular camera angles and shots. The ABC Sound and Reference Library’s weaknesses are that they are still collecting newspaper clippings, a time consuming and archaic practice, they have no succession plans in place and the library does not currently collect any information via social media, even though the ABC programs they support constantly provide information to the public via Facebook and Twitter feeds. Another interesting and worrying fact that I learnt on the study visit was that from the end of July two totally different LMS systems (pre 31st JULY 2014 and post 31st July 2014) will be running in the library. This will mean that the librarians will have to remember which system to check, either the pre or post system, depending upon what type of information they are after.


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