This week we’re celebrating our wonderful team as part of the Australian Library and Information Association‘s Library and Information Week. From librarians and technicians to photographers and conservators, we have more than 300 staff who work to run Australia’s oldest public Library.

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Stephen Morrissey, Processing Unit Supervisor

“From the first time I worked here, I appreciated the value of the work. I can see a purpose for what I’m doing. When I was studying, I would reference old newspapers so I was able to get information directly from the period that I was studying that was very close to an event. And I was amazed that someone had kept old newspapers. When I first came to work here, one of my very first jobs was working with old newspapers so I could really see the value of what I was doing, and I can see the value of what I’m doing now working with books. I’m coming up to 20 years here, so according to certain scales, I’m not quite a beginner. One of my former colleagues used to say that the first 20 years were the hardest!​”

 

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Kassi Hays, Library Technician

“I spent most of my formative years in libraries, so I don’t think it was much of a surprise to anyone that knows me that I ended up working in one. I started here in 2014 as a collection reshelver, putting books away in this very room. Now I work in Pictures as a Library Technician, and I’m always fascinated with the amazing collections I get to see every day. I’m studying to be a Librarian, and I see them as kind of like detectives. They search for the information that people need. And nothing is better than helping someone find what they’re looking for.

As information agencies, we have to think of new ways to make our information more accessible, exciting and engaging to show people that information seeking can be fun. A lot of people may think it’s tiresome or hard or difficult, but if we can inspire people with our collections and make them want to come and learn, then that’s it really, that’s what we’ve got to do.”

 

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Carolyn Fraser, Exhibitions Curator

“I really like discovering how a story opens out into lots of other connections. My interest is always in telling stories that have a particular focus like an event or person or some small part of history, but connects to a much bigger story about who people are, what our culture is, where we’re going. I think that’s most interesting.

Working on the calisthenics story this year was really important to me. It’s a fascinating story about a 19th-century Victorian craze that still continues in much the same form. Through my work I’ve met a lot of women who were students of Miss Vera Hopton, whose archive we hold here at the Library. She was a Zelig-like figure present for all the major points in the development of calisthenics. When you can tell a story through one person’s life and have the stories of the people who knew them, I think it makes it very real, and rich and exciting.”

 

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Savina Hopkins, Senior Preservation Technician

“This is Quarantine. We’re the first stop for collection items received through donations, bequests or purchases, often from less than ideal storage conditions, like a garden shed, a dusty attic or damp basement. We inspect for pests, mould and dirt, preventing contamination of existing Library collections. It’s not just live pests that are troublesome; dead pests can be a source of protein that may attract other pests into the collections. Commonly we find silverfish, but we also find clothes moths and carpet beetles, which can do a lot of damage very quickly. With mould, sometimes you can smell it before you can see it so you’re always on high alert, checking each item really carefully and safely.

Quarantine is part of a circuit that relies on lot of people all working together to track items as they travel along their Library journey. Material comes in raw, gets assessed, treated if required and then enters the Preservation, Conservation and Cataloguing areas, in preparation for public access, all part of the process of making material discoverable. There are so many steps and so many people involved in getting material to this point, but it’s an essential process that protects collection material for long term use.

I really do enjoy my job, despite the dust, the mould, the occasional scuttling silverfish. The material is constantly offering little clues relating to people’s lives and histories. You get a chance to glimpse into worlds you know and some you were never even aware of. I guess that’s the beauty of this Library. You can endlessly discover aspects of so many different lives and stories”

 

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Andrew McConville, Librarian Digital Access

“I have fallen into a career that I really enjoy. I started in 1995 at a time when the Museum was still here. It felt a bit like walking into a Charles Dickens novel. After a fairly short time, we took over the whole building, creating big new reading rooms, which has been amazing
When I started here, the World Wide Web was in its infancy and hardly anybody had access to the internet. The Library didn’t have a website, Google didn’t exist, Facebook didn’t exist, so it has been a really interesting time to be working at the Library and to see that development.
Prior to the internet, we didn’t have the capacity to be a State Library for all Victorians in the way that the internet has enabled us to be. How can we close that gap between someone who lives in Manangatang and someone who lives in Northcote? It may be impossible to close it completely but through our digitising programs, online resources, and online reference services our Library is immediately accessible to everyone, wherever they are. All of these changes make this place much more of a Library for the entire State than we’ve ever been able to be and I feel proud to be part of it.”

While you’re here …

More people are using this Library than ever before. Every year, around two million people come through our doors to think, learn, debate, create, discover and dream. Millions more visit us online.

Over the next three years, we will create 40% more space across the Library for you, our readers, friends and visitors. We will create three new reading rooms, re-open the historic Russell Street entrance, build a world-class exhibition gallery, open a dedicated Children’s Quarter and strengthen connections with regional Victoria.

We've always been free and we'll stay that way, but right now we need your support to build a better Library for you and future generations.

BECOME A SUPPORTER

This article has 9 comments

  1. I’d like to say a special thank you to Linda Notley, who has been exceptionally helpful to me in several research projects over many years!

  2. Hi.
    Does Savina do any talks, hints tips etc for preservation of old books and documents etc?

    • Hi Liz – We have a range of helpful conservation guides on our website which provide advice on how to care for books, newspapers, artworks, paper documents and photographs. These downloadable PDFs cover topics from pests and mould to storage and framing. An additional resource that may be of use is the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material Inc – https://aiccm.org.au/ – AICCM is the professional organisation for Australian conservators and their website is a great resource for information about collection care. It includes a visual glossary of different types of damage and deterioration, as well as a directory of conservators in private practice within Australia. Hope this helps!

  3. I’d love to see more of the maps collection you have – with some of the special maps. Is that possible. I have 2 fairly ancient maps of the world and 5 of different parts of ancient empires – Is there anyone who could tell me if they are genuine and if they have any value?
    Would it cost to have them identified?
    LynB

  4. Leonie Loveday

    I love books, I love the State Library – thank you to all the people who make it possible.

  5. great to know what you all do

  6. Thanks to all who work in this great institution! Especially Des Cowley and his group!

  7. Congratulations to the hard Working State Library of Victoria Staff. As a qualified library Technician and Book lover it’s good to have a peek behind the scenes to see how things come together.

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