ASSOCIATES (vol. 3, no. 3, March 1997) -

Table of Contents

                       with Susan Blake,
                 Northern Territory University, 
                     Casuarina, Australia 
                          Kent Slade
                  Weber County Library Ogden

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 ( )
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 (
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
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.