ASSOCIATES (2010, November, v. 17, no. 2)


Klohn Crippen Berger Library

Heather Duff

As a new library technician and a curious person, I am fortunate to have worked in the library of Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. for the last two years. This engineering and environmental consulting firm is based in Vancouver, Canada, but has five additional offices across Canada as well as offices in Lima, Peru and Brisbane, Australia. KCB specializes in bridges, hydroelectric dams, mine tailings dams, soil and geotechnical engineering, environmental assessments and remediation, and socio-economic assessments. The firm, and its library collection, date back to 1951. The collection covers mainly engineering, biology/environmental, and business topics as well as technical standards.

I find the position interesting partly because of the type and size of library. Being one of only two full-time staff, plus one half-time in a branch office, I perform a variety of duties: document delivery, serials, project records management, intranet updating, circulation, cataloguing, processing, shelving, book repair, and office reception relief. When filling in for the library coordinator I do purchasing and cover the reference desk. Our technology covers a wide range as well, from handwritten sign-out cards to digital journals. Every day is different and I welcome the opportunity to do a wide variety of work.

Another interesting aspect of my position is interacting with people from all over the world, since the KCB’s staff and projects are international. The firm’s projects are primarily in the Americas, Asia, and Australia. For example, last summer I phoned the Philippines to buy a building code. I hope to talk our manager into a secondment to the Australian office someday! Internet and PDF technology have made both serving distant staff and accessing obscure papers much easier. Even staff doing field work, have access to documents through email. Having grown up with a rotary dial phone, it is still a thrill to order papers from Germany and receive them the next day.

Finally, I enjoy hearing about the projects we do and learning more about technical topics. While basic earth sciences courses from college have been useful, they certainly didn’t cover engineering! I felt a little overwhelmed at first but now focus on learning the vocabulary of the firm’s practice areas. This has been especially useful for thinking of synonyms to broaden searches. One practice is to keep a dictionary website open while adding contents of proceedings to their catalogue records, so I can look up unfamiliar words.

This position was quite a departure from my previous workplaces and the learning curve was steep at first but I’m enjoying it now. As someone once said (whose name escapes me), library people don’t need to know everything just where to find everything!