ASSOCIATES (vol. 3, no. 3, March 1997) - associates.ucr.edu
Table of Contents
*INTERVIEW!* with Susan Blake, Northern Territory University, Casuarina, Australia by Kent Slade Weber County Library Ogden firstname.lastname@example.org 1. Tell us a little about yourself I was born in England, raised in Sydney, New South Wales, left school at 15, moved to Darwin, Northern Territory at 18 to marry, was blown out of Darwin by Cyclone Tracy and landed in Perth, Western Australia, where I had 2 beautiful babies. From there we moved to Streaky Bay, South Australia for a few years and back to Darwin in 1990. My beautiful babies are now at the boomerang stage. That's the one where they keep leaving home but then return when they remember how they had more money and less housework back home with mum and dad. Our daughter has a Marketing Traineeship and our son is starting a degree this year in Information Technology. Although we came back to Darwin with the intention of catching a few Barramundi (beautiful eating, exciting to catch fish found in northern Australian rivers) my husband and I have both found careers which we enjoy too much so there isn't much time left for other hobbies. My husband is a tour guide, he drives a big bus and goes bush every day - every boy~s dream. 2. How did you become involved in library work? When my children started school I volunteered at the local school library which was a School Community Library - a brilliant idea where in remote areas the State Government, local council and the school combine resources to fund a library that covers the needs of the school and the community. I enjoyed that so much that I started looking for some way to learn more about library work and so began to study by correspondence for what was then the Associate Diploma in Library and Information Studies. 3. Where do you work, what type of library and what do you do? I work for the Northern Territory University in what was, until recently, the Library Information Technology Branch. Now that the Library has merged with the University's Information Technology Support and other areas to become the Division of Information Services, I am now a part of the Information Technology Support Branch within the new division. At the moment I am still based in the library building where the library system server and a Novell server are housed. The demise of the Library Information Technology Branch meant the loss of the manager of the branch so, since I was about to collapse in a quivering heap trying to do the work of what was meant to be a branch of 3 staff, I stopped supporting hardware - PCs, terminals etc , and went on holidays. ITS User Support have taken over the hardware support role and most of my time now is taken up with maintaining the CD network and supporting the ILMS (Dynix). Information Technology is a new area for library technicians suitable only for those who enjoy living dangerously. There have been times when my finger has hovered over the "enter" key with the thought that I just might bring the whole library system down if I press "enter". An IT person thrives on the challenge of an ever-growing avalanche of new technology. An IT person is considered by users to be the expert on everything related to computers when in reality they know so little and the little knowledge they do have is constantly becoming outdated - they just have to keep on learning. Working in an IT area has meant that I have been able to assist with electronic communication between Library Technicians I have taken over ownership of the LIBTEC email discussion list and I am an editor of NetNexus (http://www.ntu.edu.au/library/netnexus/ ) an e-journal for Australian Library Technicians. 4. Tell us about ALIA and the Library Technicians section ALIA is the Australian version of ALA. Library Technicians have their own section within ALIA and we are in the process of reforming the national committee for Library Technicians. The web page (http://www.alia.org.au/publications/courses/index.html) will give you an idea of the role and educational requirements of Librarians and Library Technicians in Australia. Each state has an ALIA Branch with sections eg. Specials, Reference, Schools and Library Technicians. A big first for LTs nationally was the election of Kaye Bartlett, the convenor of the Darwin conference, as the ALIA Northern Territory Branch, General Councillor - the first technician to gain this position. General Council is the policy-making committee of ALIA. Many Library Technician state groups are running their own professional development workshops as well as working towards better recognition for Library Technicians. The NT group was the first to win recognition of Library Technician qualifications in School libraries, where they were previously employed as School Assistants. A national ALIA Library Technician conference is held biennually. The last conference was held here in Darwin in 1995 and with over 300 delegates it was a big job for a very small group of ALIA LT members. The next conference will be held in Canberra in September. Their web page has just gone up at http://www.alia.org.au/~jstoney/conf97.html. I first joined ALIA when Kaye was looking around for people to organize the '95 conference. Kaye is very good at arm-twisting. I thought at the time she had a twisted sense of humor when she put me in charge of the Social Committee but I did manage to get everyone fed. Before that I always assumed that someone much more capable than myself was handling Library Technician matters within ALIA. Now I have realized how necessary it is for everyone to put their opinions and ideas forward. Everyone has something to offer and can have some influence in the direction of ALIA. 5. What are some of the issues you are considering nationally? Library Technicians in Australia are interested in Copyright, recognition in the workplace, the introduction of Competency Standards, education, professional development, Information Technology, the Internet and CHANGE!! Change is a necessary part of my job, I enjoy change, I need change, but at times even I feel overwhelmed. I sometimes wonder if anyone is asking "Is it necessary?, Is all this change good for us?, Is it really going to improve our lives?". I hope someone has the answer to these questions because I am to busy implementing all this change to consider them. Maybe I am talking myself out of a job here! We are introducing new technology, constantly upgrading hardware and software but is it all necessary? The workplace is changing, working conditions are changing and the skills needed for the work are changing. Are we controlling the change or is the change controlling us? One day in the future, when we are still discussing the merits of libraries and librarians/library technicians on discussion lists, our email system may collapse in an unrecoverable heap and then we may take time out to notice that there are no libraries left anyway because so much money and staff time was spent on electronic information and the technology to run it that there was nothing left for books. Books will never disappear but even here at NTU we don't have a library, we have an Information Services Division.