By Sarah Gallagher, CHC – DUD – DUB – LON – CHC – AKL – TRG – DUD.
These are the cities I’ve worked in as an information professional. I think I was always meant to be a librarian; I read voraciously as a child and always collected bits of ephemera where ever I went. I have great memories of visiting the New Brighton Public Library after school with my family. I have strong memories of the South New Brighton Primary School library too – this was where I discovered Willard Price and S.E. Hinton, Bill Peat and Judy Blume; and dinosaurs! Doris Power, the school librarian taught me how to use an index, that was an epiphanous moment. I became a pupil librarian at primary school, and then at secondary school. What drew me to libraries was not only the worlds I discovered in books, and could disappear into, but also the information with which I could create my own stories. Even at primary school I loved to research, and I wanted to know everything.
At the University of Otago I started out in libraries as a terrified user, then picked up a job as a shelver. After completing a Masters in Classics, my first real grown up job was as a Library Assistant at the Central Library. During my six years at Otago I worked in the Law Library and also Central Library’s Reference Department, and was supported to do my MLIS. Through this course I fell hard for ‘print culture’ and started collecting photos, stories and ephemera related to student flats in Dunedin. The Dunedin Flatnames Project was born.
I’ve had other information based jobs that have included sole charge positions and web based roles: Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (Dublin), the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (London), the Christchurch City Council and Boffa Miskell (CHC, AKL, TRG & WLG). The Christchurch earthquake damaged our building and I became a librarian without a library.
This was an extraordinary time, and at a time where our public libraries were closed, I found I could do something to feel a bit less helpless and helped set up the Gapfiller Book Fridge.
A year ago (2011) my family and I returned to Dunedin, and I’m now based in the Health Sciences Library at the University of Otago doing a job I love – it’s creative, collaborative, educational, and it’s based in a subject I’m genuinely interested in.
Working in the Library and Information sector is an exciting place to be – it’s constantly evolving, it’s creative and interesting. Everyone needs information, and everyone has stories to tell. The technologies we have access to and the collections we curate mean that library professionals have the skills to make nearly anything possible. We’re only limited by our imagination.