Caitlin Williams placement with the Indigenous Services team

Hi, my name is Caitlin Williams. I’ve been doing an internship as part of my Bachelor of Information Studies (Librarianship) with the Indigenous Services team. I was lucky enough to bump into Kirsten Thorpe, Manager of the Indigenous Services team here at the Library at an oral history seminar organised by the Oral History Association of NSW. I found Kirsten’s discussion of the work that she and her team had been involved in to be very engaging, and approached her after the talk to discuss the possibility of an internship.

My main task on this internship was examining the collection of HSC Aboriginal Studies major projects held by the SLSNW from 2007-13.

some books held on a table with a vase of flowers

Some examples of the Aboriginal Studies Major collection at the Library. 

These projects were completed in a variety of mediums, from written reports, artworks and videos to a whole school event organised by a student. I found it to be a deeply engaging and humbling experience to follow the journey of students’ projects from their first thoughts and initial contact with their interviewees to the completed work.

This collection is of great value to HSC students completing their major works for Aboriginal Studies. Reading them gives you an insight into how past students have taken the information gained through their research and presented it in a format that will best represent what was discovered.    

The complexities of the Library' catalogue systems present challenges in accessing this valuable material. My job was to assess these projects and suggest ways in which they can be made accessible.  

To do this successfully, I needed to consider the ethical and technical challenges the projects presented. Doing this meant taking my theoretical knowledge on collection management into the real world, and I am very thankful for the support the team has given me over the past weeks. I needed to think carefully about the privacy of interviewees and students, copyright concerns, and most importantly, how culturally sensitive knowledge is managed and shared through a digital space. The technical considerations I needed to make mainly concerned how to best present the works to our HSC audience. Luckily, the Learning Services team has established a very strong format for presenting the works of Society and Culture, History, and English major projects. Some examples of the projects are now discoverable in the Schools and Teachers page.

As a result of my work at the Library, some Special Care notices will be added on the Library's catalogue and on the physical copies which readers can access in the reading room. 

Apart from my main project, I was also given the opportunity to shadow other team's work as they conducted training, lead school groups on tours, assist in preparation for a conference talk held in Cairns, and got to sit in on meetings for internal and external projects. I was even lucky enough to spend time down in the stacks helping to locate and collect rare books and got the chance to attend lectures and a conference presented at the Library.

The opportunity to learn with the Indigenous Services team has been a privilege. I am very thankful for having the opportunity to work with this team and see firsthand how committed they are to supporting the Aboriginal community of NSW through the work they do in research assistance, language revitalisation and collection management.  

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