Library Student Class Visit

Class Visit Worksheet (TAFE Library Students)- Name of library : WSRC

Questions and Answers:

1. Who are the major clients of this library / information service?
The majority of our clients are from the Women’s Education courses at TAFE, followed by students from the Women’s Studies courses at various schools, then Gender Studies, Women’s Studies or Sociology studies students from University. We are also visited by those people from the general community looking for resources on or about women, by women.

a. Who are their other clients?
We provide our library services to everyone; therefore our clients are diverse and come from a wide range of backgrounds. We divide them into categories such as primary and secondary school students and teachers; TAFE and University students and lecturers both from South Australia and interstate; the general community; other libraries (via ILL – Interlibrary Loan) and government departments.

2. List the types of resources they have and the classification system used?
The Women's Studies Resource Centre offers a collection of feminist resources in the form of adult, young adult and children’s fiction and non-fiction books, posters, videos and DVDs. We also have a collection of overseas, national and local journals, and periodicals and are currently collecting women’s zines. We use the Dewey Decimal Classification system, and because we are a specialised library we classify our resources under the secondary subject i.e. women and law is classified under 340 ‘law’, otherwise all our resources would be under 305.4 women or 305.42 ‘feminism’.

a. What are some features of the classification system?
Well, feminism is normally classified at 305.42, however our feminist section is at 320.5 because it represents the Dewey’s political ideology area which is the way our organisation views feminism. We divide our feminist resources into liberal 320.51, radical 320.53, nationalist feminism 320.54, etc. to better organise the large amount of resources we have in this section whilst using Dewey numbers to achieve this.

We also designate a definitive subject area within Dewey for resources under a specific topic, this is because a topic such as prostitution can be placed under many numbers under Dewey. i.e. ‘As an institution between men and women 306.74; controversy related to public morals and customs 363.44; or as a crime 364.1534’ We would class it as 331.76130674 for prostitution as an occupation but the Dewey number is too long and we want to place all our resources on this topic together for easy browsing with a reasonable Dewey number so we allocate one number, in this case 363.44.

3. What are the main services provided to clients?
Our library service provides resources and information through a referral service, lending service, and an inter-library loans and document delivery service. We also provide support and promote information literacy skills in our clients to encourage life-long learning and to provide a skill set for the rising information economy.

This is particularly important for many of our clients who have been out of the work force for a long time, some of whom have never used a library before coming to the WSRC. In addition to information, we provide the use of the library space itself as a safe community space for various women’s or educational groups and activities.

i) Resources and information:
We handle enquiries and requests in person or by phone, fax and email and we provide information and resources directly face-to-face, or on our website and through linked social software sites. We send resources via the mail to special user groups, or via DECS courier system to TAFE and school libraries. We also send resources to universities, libraries or interstate by interlibrary loan through Libraries Australia document delivery.

ii) Community space:
The WSRC provides a space for various women’s groups to meet such as “Liberation” a group of women that produce the Adelaide Women’s Liberation Newsletter, the Golden Club a social club for lesbians over 30 and LOFty – a social club for Lesbians over Forty. In the past we have also provided space for The Women’s Housing Co-op and an endometriosis support group, however our stairs prevented disability access for some members to attend meetings on our premises and they have since moved elsewhere.

TAFE, School and Women’s groups use the centre for orientation tours, lessons and meetings as part of their course. All are welcome to browse and borrow. We have chairs and a table to work on, a kitchen with microwave, fridge, tea and coffee, and some facilities for children such as a playpen, baby change table and a few toys.

a) What specialist services do they provide?
As a special library we are dedicated to providing educational feminist resources about, for and by women and on raising awareness of those issues that impact on women for our particular client groups. This focus enables us to successfully specialise on this area to: select acquisitions; create and enhance bibliographic records; disseminate specific information; provide reference services; and evaluate and recommend online resources from a feminist viewpoint.

List some of the key work areas (eg Acquisitions, Programmes etc)
The centre has a small number of staff (three in total) with two working at any one time, and therefore there is only one key work area encompassing Circulation, Cataloguing, Interlibrary Loans, Administration, Volunteer programmes, etc.

4. How does this organisation fit within a broader structure?
We are funded via grants from The Minister for Education and Children’s Services (DECS) and are part of the DECS (Department of Education and Children’s Services) Resource Services which include the Aboriginal Education Resource Centre, Languages and Multicultural Centre, Special Education Resource Unit and Tape Services and therefore we provide resources free of charge for the education sector R-12 students and teachers, staff and school libraries. There is a small charge for private school libraries, their teachers and students.

We are also funded via grants from The Minister for Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology (DFEEST) and are considered to be a part of the TAFE library services. As a result we provide resources free of charge to TAFE students, lecturers, and staff and provide free inter library loan services to TAFE libraries.

We network with the Universities, and are considered in our role as a special library, we are informally supported (in resources) both locally and internationally by individual University staff to whom we are very grateful. We provide resources for a fee to university staff and students and their libraries locally and interstate through ILL.

a. What links do they have with the community?
We are recognised by The Minister for the Status of Women from the Office for Women, and network with many other women’s services especially WIS: Women’s Information Service, The Women’s Community Centre and other women’s organisations including Women’s Health Statewide and the various women’s community health centres, Working Women’s Centre, Women’s Legal Service, etc.

We are open to the general community and our library and its facilities are available and is used by various women’s community groups already mentioned such as Liberation, the Golden Club, Lofty, etc.

5. What is the background to this library/information service?
The concept of the centre began from a national conference on Sexism in Education in 1973 with a need to support the subsequent women’s studies courses at Flinders and Adelaide Universities that and was established in 1975 with a grant for International Women’s Year

a. What is their philosophy?
Our mission: To promote gender equity and improve the status of women in Australian society by providing information and resources which positively raise awareness of the issues impacting on girls and women.

Our objective: To provide and maintain access to an extensive collection of inclusive and counter-sexist educational
resources relevant to women’s studies, gender studies and feminist research.

Our values: A commitment to feminism and providing educational resources that empower women.

6. What are some of the key issues affecting this sector of the library / information industry?
Funding is the main issue which affects this library, as it affects most other libraries. We have had inconsistent funding in the past, and more recently we received grants on a yearly basis, this makes planning for new projects and for the future difficult. Currently we receive three-year funding grant which has made strategic planning easier, with the eventual aim of the WSRC generating its own funding and being more self-sufficient in the future.

a. What is the future direction of this service?
As with most libraries we are involved in the idea of mixing technology and community and therefore in line with the advent of Web 2.0 we have increased our usage of information communication technology tools and social software. We have been improving our website with the addition of an online catalogue, reference wiki, and news and events blog, and are looking at Audacity, an online tool for creating podcasts to enable us to record women’s stories from our network, interviews etc.

7. What are the some of the key attributes / skills they are looking for in staff?
Flexibility, because you need to be able to adapt to working in all areas of the library and outside, networking with stakeholders and organisations that are associated with the centre. The nature of the special library means it is akin to running your own small (not-for-profit) business, all of the legislative rules and regulations apply and must be implemented as in a large organisation, only your human resources and general resources are limited.

We like staff who find ways to use their existing talents in new and constructive ways and are able to bring that to the centre, those who have an interest in their own professional development and keep up to date on trends in the profession through their own research or by attending ALIA or SALIN workshops and conferences.

We look for people who have the ability to use, or an interest in IT, a working knowledge of the Microsoft office suite and website software like Dreamweaver, and particularly any open source software and social software, Wikidot, Wordpress, Facebook, Twitter etc. We also look for people who can trouble-shoot hardware, network computers and printers etc.

We are a very small organisation and therefore the ability to work autonomously on a day to day basis is very important, and to be able to work in a team environment for board meetings, to run volunteer sessions, and in taking part in promotional events. Being feminist is crucial, a sense of humour a necessity, and a willingness to try is mandatory.

8) What legislation impacts on this sector of the information industry?
There are several International, Federal and State legislative rules and regulations which apply to the WSRC, because of its various roles as a library, as a not-for-profit organization, and as a government supported centre.

As a library, these include Commonwealth laws such as the Copyright Act; As a not-for-profit organisation, by legislation we must also be an incorporated body, and audited externally; As an organisation supported by government, we must abide by their regulations on the condition of funding.

9. What is your overall view of this particular information service?
Naturally we’re great, you even have to ask?

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