In Western Australia, Public Libraries are run by Local Governments, with many small Shires only having the one library (like us in Chittering), and bigger Shires or Cities have multiple services which are all linked (City of Swan for example has six). When I was first hired here, like Jon Snow, I knew nothing. I had no previous library experience, no official training, just a love of reading and a passion for customer service. As a Library Officer in a rural library, that was all that I technically needed to be hired, but unlike a Library Officer in a large library, here I do everything. I don’t have a Library Manager to report to, there’s no Youth Librarian to run Rhyme Time or school holiday activities, there’s not a team of Library Assistants to provide customer service while I work on the budget.
So all by my lonesome, with no experience, who did I turn to? Why, The Mothership of course! To those non-nerds, this is also known as The State Library of Western Australia and they are awesome. Our Library is supported by a dedicated Public Library Liaison Librarian, Janet, who is assigned to the Wheatbelt area (as well as wearing many other hats – she’s a very busy lady!). Janet is always there on the end of the phone or by email to help out with any questions that we have, offering support and advice, and facilitating Zoom workshops for library staff.
We also have access to training via SLWA with online courses giving us the basic rundown of day-to-day activities such as Inter Library Loans, eResources, and an overview of early literacy. Further training regarding Early Literacy takes place at The Mothership itself and one of my favourite things to do is attend those courses. The Better Beginnings team are so knowledgeable and friendly, and getting to meet staff from other Public Libraries is always a plus. Also, the training room is set out like a big kindy class, complete with coloured plastic chairs, which makes it extra fun.
We also have the opportunity to attend conferences and forums at The State Library, where we hear from industry professionals, presenters working in public libraries, and State Library staff with specialised knowledge. These are always very informative and I come away bursting with ideas.
So although I’m the only staff member in the only library in Chittering, I’m not alone. There’s always someone at The Mothership on the end of the phone, or email, or retractor beam to support me.