Friday, July 13, 2012


1969 was the year that I started using our State Library. My first visits were in my courting days with Mr Geniaus when we used go to the library, which was then in the historic Mitchell wing, to study together. As we both passed the courses we were studying the library must have had an atmosphere that was conducive to study.

I have continued to visit the library irregularly for 43 years although today most of my visits are virtual as I can use the library's eResources and online catalogue from home. In my career as a librarian I paid many visits to the Macquarie Street wing (opened in 1988) for professional development seminars, meetings and research. I love the State Library of New South Wales and enjoy my visits in person. I was thrilled last year to take part in a week long online forum that allowed me to comment on various aspects of the library's facilities and services. I even won a gift voucher for my traoubles. Today was my first visit to the library since that forum and the refurbishment of the library's spaces (my excuse being tht I have recently spent several months out of the country).

The library is looking pretty schmick with lots of white and pale grey with some red and dark gray accents and a bit of blonde timber. What is pleasing is that some of the things that were discussed in the forum have been implemented; this may have been going to happen anyway but when I looked around I felt that perhaps my contribution to the forum had helped the library powers with their planning.

Family History area

I was kicking myself because I didn't have a camera in my bag as I would loved to have taken some better photos for this post. The few I took on my tablet don't do justice to the library makeover.

Gone were the horrible blue lights from the toilets that made one look like a zombie and feel disoriented. There were plenty of powerpoints and free wifi at a decent speed, the new hard plastic chairs were surprisingly comfortable and there are lots of computers available. There is a new cafe on the ground floor near the library entrance where one can get a sandwich served on a plate from $5 - a bargain in the city. My fancy $7 toasted sourdough sandwich was great.
Library cafe - site of the super sandwich

The lockers have been replaced with new electronically operated ones that are accessed from a touchscreen. Mine locked on me while I was organising my things but reopening it from the touchscreen wasn't a drama. I dutifully put my large handbag in the locker but saw many people in the library with bags as big as mine. I need to check on their bag policy as I find it a nuisance having to leave some of my gear outside.

Lots of computers

As I had misplaced my library card (I have misplaced all my library and archives cards - put them in a safe place when I last went travelling - it's very safe)  I enquired at the information desk; the two librarians on duty there issued me with a new one on the spot after checking my ID and relieving me of a dollar (SLNSW you could charge a bit more for this).

My next stop was the family history section where I settled in for a few hours. I had a successful time there using the monographs and then the library's subscription to Findmypastau (I only have a sub to the UK version). My peace was disturbed towards the end of my visit by a student sitting near me and I was compelled to send out this tweet: Should I offer some tissues to the student sitting near me at so he can blow his nose and stop sniffling?

Good old microfiche is still available

I sent out one other tweet while I was in the library: Tip for  staff - when in info desks please don't talk about other staff members especially when what you say isn't niceI am disappointed that no-one from the institution has responded to my tweet yet but maybe it is their policy to ignore cranks like me. While at the library I couldn't help hearing two staff at a service desk discuss fashion and compliment each other on their fashion sense (good for team building), they also discussed a conference (presume it was ALIA2012) but when they started talking about another person (presumably on the library staff) in a negative way I just had to tweet. I don't mind workers indulging in a bit of idle chatter on the job but they need to be aware of the fact they are in a public area and supposed to be working; they need to realise that others cannot help but hear what they are saying in the morgue like library silence. Perhaps there is a need for some ambient noise in the library.

Now I have that off my chest I must congratulate whoever is responsible for the changes at SLNSW, it's looking good. 

I'll be back next week with my camera.

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