Where'd all the good people go?
Lorraine Johnston, Heritage Librarian
Lorraine retired from Dunedin Public Libraries on Friday 22 May. With an academic, teaching and Māori studies background, Lorraine spent almost 11 years at Dunedin Public Libraries. Her leadership of the Heritage Team has been outstanding, as has her steadfast drive towards bi-culturalism at the Library – Te Reo and Tikanga Māori, now gradually being infused into the daily lives of library staff.
Under Lorraine's leadership, the Heritage Collections team has presented some amazing exhibitions which have promoted our Reed, McNab and Special Collections, and our digital exhibitions have been launched; significant progress has been made on newspaper indexing and the Southern Regional News Index; access to the Heritage Archives Collections has been enhanced; a partnership with the New Zealand Society of Genealogists has been established and prospered, and the Scattered Seeds digital archive has been created and goes from strength to strength.
In Lorraine's own words:
Back in 2009 I was working as a Māori Resources Librarian at University of Otago Library. I was unsettled there and thinking about a change when I saw the position of Heritage Collections Librarian at Dunedin Public Libraries advertised. I had a Master’s degree in Māori Studies and had been a lecturer in TeTumu, School of Māori Pacific and Indigenous Studies at the University of Otago before embarking on my library career, so had a good knowledge of and feel for New Zealand historical resources and the value of collections like the Alexander Turnbull Library, Auckland’s Grey Collections, the Hocken Collections and of course, the McNab collection. I also had an amateur interest in rare books, especially illuminated manuscripts and early print. Why not give it a go, I thought? So, here I am just over 10 years later retiring from what may well have been the most challenging, frustrating and enjoyable job of my life.
It has been an enormous privilege to work with the McNab, Reed and other Special Collections and the extremely dedicated staff on the Heritage Team. When I arrived, it was to a high functioning team that operated like a well oiled machine. Anthony Tedeschi, Reed Rare Books Librarian and acting team leader, couldn’t pass the leadership mantle over soon enough so he could get back to his beloved rare books. Delyth Sunley and Cheryl Hamblyn were the mother hens of the newspaper indexing team and kept a watchful eye on the McNab serials collection. Malcolm Deans, Jackie McMillan, Delyn Day and Alex Witherow made up the rest of the team, indexing, providing quality reference services and each contributing to the maintenance of the collections. Over the years, Anthony, Delyn and Jackie moved on to other things, Eryn Makinson came and went and more recently, Delyth and then Cheryl retired. Barbara Blake, Alyce Stock and Gina Rocco have joined the team. But whatever the make-up, the team has always been a delight to lead, and I know I leave it in capable hands, as our Rare Books Librarian Julian Smith will now be stepping up as interim team leader.
I have met many interesting and engaging people on the other side of the reference desk and learned more than I probably wanted to know about genealogy.
Anne Buck, Information Services Team Leader
Anne retires on 19th June. She has been with us for almost 40 years, and has seen huge changes in how the libraries provide their services to the public. She has served as the Regional Councillor for Otago/Southland for LIANZA (Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa: Te Rau Herenga o Aotearoa) for many years, representing the voice of libraries in the South.
In Anne's own words:
I began working at Dunedin Public Libraries just before it opened at its current location in 1981 and have seen many changes in our service during this time. I fell into library work and loved it so much that I studied and became qualified. More recently I have served six years on the LIANZA council representing librarians from across Otago/Southland.
I have held front line roles in most areas such as childrens, adults and heritage at the city library as well as “backroom” tasks such as cataloguing, managing the serials collections and the acquisition of new materials. Most of you will have more recently seen me either at the help desk or on the first floor where I dealt with the public internet computers, Stepping UP computer classes and helping customers with digital devices. Did you know we used to charge for public internet use? So good that it's free to use now.
In my time working at the City Library we have gone from a main card catalogue that was only on the ground floor with a separate one for the heritage collection on the 3rd floor. Back then we needed to have a good knowledge of the whole collection and what each book contained. Then we progressed to a microfiche catalogue which was a snapshot of our item holdings taken each month from a national database of holdings. And now we have the current computer catalogue with real time holdings and accessible from a number of locations including your home.
I have lived through local government amalgamation where we added and welcomed the other local public libraries into your library network. Apart from the recent closure the only other times we were closed for a significant period were shifting into the current building and when we needed to re-carpet.
I have experienced many changes to the locations of collections throughout the building, for example the teens started out on floor one, moved to the ground floor and then moved to the second floor where it is today. Our collections have also varied. I have worked not only with books but with cassettes, LP vinyl records, video tapes, CDs, Playaways and DVDs as well as the many e-resources we now have.
Issuing and returning books was originally a far more manual system than it is now and library cards were hand laminated and posted out to new members to verify their address. Until your address was verified you could only get a few books out. Overdue letters once only contained the ALS number of the book (metallic dots under a sticker), and you needed to ring the library to get the title of the books if you needed to check what they were. Cards were posted out to you too if you had a hold ready for picking up.
Looking back over these changes makes me proud that I have been able to be part of them all. I wish to thank you all for supporting your library and making it a great place to work. I have enjoyed serving you and helping you over the past 38 years. Good luck for the future.
Linda Geddes, Manager Collections and Access
Linda also retires from Dunedin Public Libraries in June. She has been with us for more than 30 years in a range of positions including Bookbus Librarian, Cataloguer, Bibliographic Services Librarian, Head of Technical Services and her current position of Manager Collections and Access, a position she has held since 1998, with responsibility for the diverse acquisitions, cataloguing, collection development, shelving, processing, bindery and IT Support functions.
Over the last two decades, Linda has been responsible for a number of significant collection services projects including the development of an international standard exhibition area within the Dunedin City Library for the display of its Heritage Collections; developing comprehensive Collection Development and Preservation Policies for the Dunedin Public Libraries; coordinating the establishment of a centralised Collection Development Team, streamlined acquisition, cataloguing and processing procedures; project management of the redevelopment of the Heritage Collection storage facilities within the Dunedin City Library in 2004 and the establishment of a new Teen Space in 2007/08; the comprehensive recording, valuation, preservation and promotion of the Dunedin Public Libraries Art Works collection and the development of a self-guided tour of art works in the Dunedin City Library - she has also personally conducted art tours of the collection from time to time.
In 2008 and in recognition of her significant achievement and contribution to collection services, Linda was awarded the YBP/Lindsay and Croft Award for Collection Services by LIANZA, and earned Fellowship status of LIANZA in 2013.
It is no understatement to say that Linda leaves very big shoes to fill. Her contribution to the progress and success of Dunedin Public Libraries is priceless, and she too will be sorely missed by us all.