Today I continued working towards my second assignment. Part of it involves doing a shadowing session in a library at the reference/information desk. This required me to walk over to our library building on campus and take a seat behind the desk with the librarians. Usually I stand on the “client” side and ask questions. The hour that I sat observing confirmed a lot of what we have been learning during the first five weeks of the term. Librarians in the 21st century have to be experts in technology. And by that I mean, they don’t just have to know how to use technology to help library users find good and relevant information. They have to know how to troubleshoot the technology in the library for the users. There were questions about the photocopier, the printer, the self checkout machine, the coffee machine and the vending machine. There was even a question about where the “good stapler” was. As it is a regional campus, resources in terms of staff are limited. With five regional campuses CQUni works with a floating collection. That means every day there are requests from staff and students at other campuses for books in our library. They are sent overnight by courier (as long as the request has been made by 12pm). And then there are books received from other campuses that have been requested here. They stay at this campus until someone decides they want to borrow them. None of this completed by administration staff. It is all done by the librarians themselves. I also observed the very beginnings of the system whereby university alumni have access to the library for free for the rest of their lives. I was impressed when I saw QUT offered this service and it is in the initial stages of being rolled out at our institution. I found out as well that members of the community can join the library for 100 dollars a year (which is pretty good I think) giving them access to the hard copy collections and some of the digital material as well. Interestingly, the one question about a book (the student knew the title but not the other) but solved by a fellow student before the librarian had the chance to even sit down at her computer. It’s a whole new view sitting behind the desk that’s for sure. What was slightly scary was that as soon as you sit there people approach you to ask questions. I didn’t know the answer to any of them. That’s right…not even how to refill the water in the coffee machine or which one was the “good stapler”. Clearly, I have a lot to learn.