ETL507 – Professional Experience and Portfolio

The Placement

Part of the requirements for meeting the outcomes of subject “ETL507 Professional Experience and Portfolio” is to participate in a supervised workplace experience within the Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) course.

The Placement as a teacher librarianship student will comprise of ten days of observing/participating in professional level duties. The challenge of the placement is to investigate and understand an information agency in its community/organisational context. This placement will provide a genuine taste of professional work. The placement report was submitted for marking to the course coordinator at the end of its duration. It has been also added for whomever desires to peruse after reading some detail descriptions of the City of Sydney Library operational activities.

Home Library Service

Author: Peter Green Library Assistant – City of Sydney

The City of Sydney Library provides a home visiting service for individuals unable to access our physical branch. Once a fortnight home library staff will call on people in their homes with requested items. Where clients do not have access to our catalog or would prefer to have selections made on their behalf, the home library staff will choose items based on client preferences. If clients would prefer monthly or less frequent deliveries, arrangements can be made via the date nearest to their geographic schedule. Activity officers in age care and community centres particularly value our bulk loan scheme which comprises unspecified titles to match overall interests of their residents or visitors. Additionally, the children and youth librarians have established a niche offering of Junior Easy books to child care centres via the home library service.

At the City of Sydney, we have a courier van exclusively for the purpose of home library deliveries. As our home base is removed from the branch network (in the administration building), staff select for their clients via branch visits (loading ‘picks’ into crates and allocating to client membership on return to base), catalogue search and the limited use of a profile tool on the lms. Essentially, this module suggests titles in our holding based on loan history and nominated preferences. The home library team is comprised of 3 full time staff members. The visiting component of the service occurs each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

To become a member of the home library service, clients require a letter from their GP (or referral from a social worker/HACC). Many of our clients are frail aged and have a history of membership with the library. As such our branch colleagues play an important role in identifying possible referrals. Other referrals typically come from family members (via the information on our webpage), social workers in hospitals and home care agencies. We also cater for clients requiring a temporary service i.e. rehabilitation prior to transferring to open membership.

The important skills for staff deployed to this service primarily center on reader advice experience and ‘people skills’.One of the challenges we face in operating the home library service, is the ability to maintain awareness in our community. We also face a great need to increase efforts in publicizing the service to our local community. While we have good physical resources (in house language collection and access to additional resources at the state library), there are limiting human resources which could be alleviated by the use of volunteers. Currently the city of Sydney do not engage volunteers, however this issue is on the agenda as part of our library review. The ability to attract volunteers with language skills in our home library service would be highly beneficial.

The home library team are responsible for introducing and adapting new technology to clients as needed. Most metropolitan and regional libraries offer a home library service. Currently we are collaborating on a grant application (via our home library working group) for the allocation two I-Pad devices per council library. The City of Sydney is evolving their E-Book platform.Home library clients will also participate in broader library programs and activities offered by council where collaborative projects are identified. An important partnership is in place to mutually serve the interests of clients across home library, meals on wheels and the over 50 community. When discussing potential membership with individuals and institutions, it is important to promote the collection in full (elaborating on DVD/periodical/music CD’s etc.)To progress the needs of our vision impaired clients, our next task will be to investigate talking books which can be downloaded onto a suitable device (such as the daisy player). Currently, we are only issuing talking books in a multi and single disc format

Monthly statistics May 2014 (includes loan average):

  • 60 Individual clients
  • 14 child care centres
  • 8 Age Facilities
  • 1000 loans

Professional Development

The City of Sydney Library Manager Jeffery Cruz conducted professional development for all his front desk staff separated into groups over a month duration. The theme of the professional development was “City of Sydney Library innovation session”. Whilst doing my professional placement I was fortunate to be invited to the last group’s session at Kings Cross Library. Kings Cross Library is one of the nine libraries in the City of Sydney network.

The outcomes addressed in this professional development:

  • Better understanding of purpose
  • Increased customer service
  • Increased lending
  • Improved enquiry work
  • Shared understanding of customer service standards
  • Improved spaces
  • Reduced stress
  • Better relationships and culture at work

The city of Sydney priorities

  • Purpose – lead, govern and serve
  • focus – Sydney 2030 plan
    1. Green City – sustainability
    2. Global City – diversity
    3. Connected – technologically and with people
  • values – integrity, innovation, collaboration and respect

The presentation consisted of a PowerPoint which was scanned into a pdf from print outs. It was separated into two parts Innovation Session PowerPoint Part A and Innovation Session PowerPoint Part B.

The presentation was recorded into two recordings with a small part mission in between.The first one Innovation Session Recording Part A and the second
Innovation Session Recording Part B.

The Placement report

Placement Site: City of Sydney Libraries

Part A

The role of the library

The library network supports the diverse range of community members through opportunities to learn, recreate and participate in broader community life. The City of Sydney Libraries stage events, conduct information technology (IT) courses, organise readers’ groups, talks, workshops and activities for children, adolescents and adults. Where possible some of these programs are also offered in other languages. The libraries organise events/programs that promote the arts and cultural awareness with some linked in conjunction with celebrating community events such as ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC)   week, youth week, senior’s week and many others.

The libraries provide community spaces for members to borrow resources in print and electronic resources to meet or have meetings, connect physically or virtually, display their artwork, read a book, take advantage of free WIFI and use printing facilities. It provides a hangout for young children and teenagers so they can relax and enjoy reading a book, do their homework or try a new PlayStation game. The library network caters for multi-literacy and multicultural educational programs for preschoolers, toddlers and babies.

The City of Sydney Libraries has an outreach program to connect to the community. They organise partnerships with other community agencies. The prime role of the outreach program is to promote library programs and services to cater for the homeless, rough sleepers, senior citizens and private organisations within the Cities precent. One program is with the various homeless shelters and youth shelters to offer them easy access to the library services by conducting information sessions and provide advice about using facilities within the branches.


The library has more than four hundred thousand books to lend. All these titles are searchable on the online public access catalogue (OPAC).  Their collection comprises of materials primarily fiction and non fiction in the English language, e-resources, e-books, Languages other than English (Russian, Mandarin, Korean, Thai and others), audio visual CDs and DVDs, regalia and Toys.

The network receives 200 books every week from selected book suppliers who use a user profiling that has been negotiated with the collections librarian. They also have a budget to fulfil individual orders for books and resources where necessary. Library supplier contracts are selected by tender every three years. There are four suppliers which have their specialist services and resources that they can provide. The types of resources bought are fiction and non fiction including, serials, audio visual CDs/DVDs, non-English resources and EBook Library (EBL) provides the electronic book publications. All suppliers for non print and audio visual material do the necessary cataloguing such as labelling, bar codes, insert the magnetic stripe and provide marc records for the information to be uploaded to their library database.

Weeding the collection is done by looking at the usage patterns and condition of the items they have in their collections. When books are even taken off the shelf within the library the library staff return it back to the front desk so it can be entered into the system as returned. When they run reports of items borrowed within their collections the system counts the return date entries. This is so the usage pattern of the item can be fairly recorded. The reports are run to include the last two years and then a decision is made if items should be withdrawn from the library network.

Access provided to collections

The City of Sydney Library network provides ease of access to its services and is comprised of 9 branches and 1 library link. Branches provide usual library services but each branch offers specific items that cater to the needs of the local community.  Library links are different than branches because they provide minimal of services. The link is unstaffed a convenient way to request and borrow books from the library network. The home library service is for the elderly and for people with a disability who experience challenges when travelling to and from the library. Library staff delivers and picks up items or other resources directly to members home.

The outreach program discussed previously provides disadvantaged groups with the skills necessary to be able to take advantage of the collection. They are given Library cards, provided with personal assistance on the use of technology, credit to print and use computers. Their private partnerships range from conducting information sessions with local private schools about available library services for students to team up with private organisations such as bookstores.  Some of the work the library staff does in private partnerships is organize book launches, have author visits organise book clubs and competitions.

They also keep a substantial size of Aboriginal books that are non fiction and have been written by white Australian authors. These resources are written with an anthropological view and it is not uncommon that they are more than 25 year old publications. This collection was recently audited to withdraw materials that were written by authors that provided a false record of aboriginal history under the guidance of the State Library of New South Wales.

Use of technology

The City of Sydney libraries network uses the Aurora Library Management System (LMS). The LMS has advanced features for librarians to be able to maintain the collection records to a high standard of accuracy. The check out/loan and check in/returns can be done by the front desk staff very efficiently. A self-check out self-return functionality is being planned to be rolled out next year to all libraries but instead of using bar coded library cards they are upgrading to a contactless card system.

Some resources such as languages other than English (LOTE) are non-floating. The system identifies this difference of floating and non-floating by having a logical collection and a physical location identifier. The logical location is flagged when the item is returned to a library branch that is not where it is stored. Hence the flagging process shows as a pop up menu on the screen the librarian takes the item and places it in an internal branch transfer bin. Whereas the physical location is where it is stored.

The City of Sydney Libraries has an online Web catalogue, joining/membership facility, writing a review on the Web catalogue, reserving or borrowing items on-line and checking and changing your account details remotely. When a member reserves an item online there is an option for it to be picked at the preferred branch location or library link and it is held for a week.

All branches have free wireless access for handheld devices and laptops, desktop computers and facilities for printing and copying. All desktops are provided with a suit of office productivity tools for members to do their work.

Part B

The city of Sydney Libraries meets the needs of their users in the following areas:

  • There are nine library branches in the City of Sydney precent and one library link at Town Hall house. The library link is located in Town Hall House, directly behind the Sydney Town Hall. It houses paperback books for loan, a magazine and newspaper collection for browsing and it is an unstaffed branch. The link provides a convenient way for members to pick up and return books they borrow. Nearly all of the library branches have all of the following features relaxing lounges, reading rooms, free wireless internet, public access computer and scanning, printing and photocopying facilities.
  • Members can borrow, books, e-books, magazines, CDs, talking books, DVDs and VCDs, language kits and Toys. The library network offers a 24 hour E-library service. It is online provides access to thousands of magazines, newspapers, journals, encyclopaedias, family history records, training courses and other information resources. Databases cover books and literature, business management, Chinese language, online computer training, encyclopaedias, family history, health, history, hobbies and crafts, newspapers and journals, reference, science and standards.
  • Members can borrow resources from other library networks within Australia as inter-library loans. Many of the library networks in Australia allow their collections to be loaned to other networks and are free. Academic and special libraries charge for this service.
  • The library collection caters to a multicultural community by providing resources in many different languages for example, Mandarin, Korean, Koori, Italian, Russian, Turkish, Hindu and Arabic.
  • It provides library services to outreach centres, community centres, aged care facilities, child care centres and home library delivery service for people with mobility difficulties in accessing the branches.
  • They organize free Information technology courses such as computer basics, internet basics, email basics, word basics intermediate word, Excel basics, blogging 101, Web pages 101, Facebook 101, intermediate Facebook, Twitter 101 and Mac basics.
  • There are presentations by authors, book clubs, historians, architects, environmental engineers, mental health seminars, inspirational conversations, cooking demonstrations, art appreciation/shows and how to use library services like databases.
  • They have community awareness events for example the opening of the Sydney Film festival, Naidoc Week, book week and 2014 FIFA world Cup. Participating in the Sydney Film Festival the library network organised the opening night address at Custom’s House Library Circular Quay. During the 2014 FIFA world cup the library organised a display of collectibles, memorabilia and pictures from past World Cups .
  • There are educational programs for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and 6 to 12 years olds such as rhyme time, story time, Chinese stories and songs, Kids create, after school book clubs and after school art.

Part C

A few of the activities undertaking while fulfilling the professional placement obligations at the City of Sydney Libraries are discussed as follows:

  • Attending a library branch meeting to conduct a risk assessment for monitoring access to the community spaces that exist within the City’s Green Square library branch building. The main library was located on the ground floor although the building also had two conference rooms and the library office space on the first. The second/top floor was one large open space with a small kitchen in one corner which also doubled up as the library’s staff lunch room. The library front desk and main entrance was beyond the lift and stairwell foyer access. Although the foyer was visible from the front desk there was no guarantee that library staff could thoroughly monitor everyone who entered.

The team leader of the library was concerned about staff safety as the access to the community spaces on the two levels could not be fully monitored during the opening hours. The City’s risk assessment officer offered probable solutions for monitoring. Although a detailed assessment was going to be conducted at Town Hall House and further solutions would be offered for consideration. Today libraries are designed to work as separate community spaces. This flexibility allows them be used after the opening hours of the library service. However, it is difficult to monitor and sometimes other methods have to be employed to assist librarians to run them.

  • Attending a back office library meeting. Present were three libraries managers from the front desk, programs/events and back office. The agenda of this meeting was to discuss the outstanding fines that have been accumulated over the last two years at all branches. A spreadsheet of a report for outstanding fines was produced by the LMS. This report was analysed to see how far back they would attempt to recover the costs occurred. It was finalised that fines more than the last 365 days would be excluded. Also an official letter would be sent to members who had accumulated debts in the last 365 days who were in excess of $150. For all other fines a global SMS message would be sent out as a reminder for members to pay. The library managers allocated a task from this meeting. It was to manipulate the report in Excel to produce a list of names that had debts greater and equal to one hundred and fifty dollars during the last 365 days. This activity gave me insight to how they operated and dealt with outstanding fines. Moreover I was impressed with their LMS’s reporting system and its capability of being linked to an SMS service for notices to be sent out to members. To do this report I had to generate many test reports from the LMS to understand where the reporting system took the data from to generate this report. Then exporting it to excel I manipulated further with formulas to give them the final result of patron names.
  • Working as part of a team conducting front desk and branch library activities. The following list indicates what activities were fulfilled:
  • Front desk general and reference inquiries
  • Returning and loaning out resources
  • Returning items to shelves
  • Processing reserve requests from other libraries
  • Processing inter library loan requests
  • Facilitating patrons with the use of technology
  • Closing procedures of a branch

All these tasks were valuable hands on experience which I extremely enjoyed as they gave me a sense of what types of daily tasks a librarian would conduct.

Part D

The value of participating in this professional experience increased my understanding of how an operation such as the City of Sydney library network attempted to fulfil all its community needs whilst concurrently trying to meet world best practice standards in library operations. A few of these practices will be discussed in its applicability as a teacher librarian (TL) role and as a member of the wider library and information profession.

The City of Sydney libraries maintains a floating collection. Maintaining a floating collection and how it impacts on library service was not initially understood. However I started to make sense of it when participating in the inter branch delivery and processing these reserved items at the front desk when they exited and entered each branch became very clear. The backbone of maintaining a floating collection lies in how the LMS managers the task and how librarians at each branch responds to the requests and processes shifting items in between libraries. A good library LMS is a necessity in a large library network to maintain functionality of the collection and make every item accessible. A floating collection would not be a priority at a school library but on the other hand supplying enough usage data for the librarian to analyse borrowing trends is important. Reliable data from an LMS is necessary for the library to optimally provide patrons with the necessary resources for them to meet their information needs.

From the start of the placement I attended branch and back office meetings. These meeting played an important role to sort out library operational issues and staffing needs. In a large library network each branch works independently although all of them follow the same standard operational procedures. However there are local issues that must be addressed that occur in the daily operation of the branches. Having meeting brings back office library managers into branches to address issues where they occur. In a School Library the TL would involve and keep informed major stakeholders for example the principal, deputies, library committee and auxiliary staff so the library operation can run smoothly and issues resolved quickly.

Back office meetings primarily involve only Library managers and selected branch team leaders. These meetings involve setting budgets, operating costs, maintaining collections, organising educational programs, resolving staffing issues and organising events. One of the meetings I attended was discussing outstanding library fines. As the City of City’s Library annual budget is around 12 million it was taken as part of business that many fines would never be paid and a lot of resources unrecoverable. A small school library doesn’t have the luxury in not following up unreturned resources as their budgets are always very small and in many cases do not have the extra money to replace them.

The library programs and events organised by the City of Sydney libraries were outstanding. Many of the events or programs were organised to give access to the community were they would not have otherwise be able to due to costs, opportunity or social capital. A school library program would not concentrate on events or general educational needs of a community but provide specific information resources and programs to meet curriculum learning needs of students in their subject areas.

In conclusion the difference being a TL and public librarian is that as a TL you are more specifically attuned in teaching students information literature and to assist them to understand the information research process. The public librarians or other information specialist would likely use their information skills as part of their job, in helping patrons or facilitate their learning by providing them with advice and instruction in how to meet their information needs.



The City of Sydney Libraries. (n.d.). OPAC and information. Retrieved June 23, 2014, from       


One thought on “ETL507 – Professional Experience and Portfolio

  1. Pingback: ETL507 – Final Reflective portfolio | Dimitri Alexandratos

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s