For as long as I can remember, I have loved libraries. As a small child I delighted in bringing bags of books home to explore from my local library. As I grew up I loved to go to work with my mother, who was a librarian, spending endless hours devouring stories. Then as a teenager, I would venture into the State Library to retreat to the quiet reading rooms to study. So it was with excitement that as part of my university studies to be a teacher librarian I was accepted as an intern at the State Library in Learning Services.
I was already a regular user of the amazing resources that the State Library’s learning services team have developed and made available on the learning section of their website. My internship allowed me to see the thoughtfulness, creativity and care that the staff put in at the planning and design level for these tasks and their connected collection items. Each resource is carefully developed to engage students and allow teachers easy access to materials in order to enrich their programs.
Virtual excursions are another resource that Learning Services offers. During my placement I was very fortunate to watch two of the staff present Explorers of the Australian Interior – Brave or Foolhardy? a virtual excursion for Stage 3 students. During the hour-long virtual excursion, I was amazed as the attending students were able to see four fascinating collection items including Ludwig Leichardt’s telescope. The staff guided and questioned the students to discover the information and stories behind each of the collection items.
Learning Services also runs onsite learning programs for children, schools and lifelong learners. All of the programs seek to promote engagement, creativity and intellectual growth. I was able to see this firsthand as students took part in programs from Seeking Shakespeare, British Colonisation to Explore! Each of the programs I saw engaged the students and allowed them to interact with the collection to learn and grow in their knowledge. I am looking forward to returning with students from my own school, as I know this experience would be a wonderful learning experience for them.
The one thing that really struck me about the State Library is their endeavour to truly meet the learning needs of not just researchers but all people in our community. My experience at the State Library showed me how important it is to listen to your clients to meet their changing needs. The State Library has always had wonderful spaces for their users but they are continuing to move forward in their building plans to create innovative learning spaces for our children and the whole community.
Although buildings and spaces are important, it was the joy from the State Library staff as they interacted with the library users. The welcoming smiles, the extra time spent to help someone with their information question or taking time to rework a program to meet the needs of a particular school group. It was a delight to work alongside such committed and hardworking staff.
I am forever grateful for the experience. It has impacted me as both a teacher and a librarian to allow me to improve my own practice and understanding of how a library works. I am thankful in particular to the Learning Services team who allowed me to work alongside them for two weeks and get a taste of the amazing things they are achieving. I look forward to taking this learning back to my own school to enhance the teaching and learning of my school community. This experience has only intensified my love of libraries and I can’t wait to return to see what I will discover next time I visit the State Library.