A chance meeting with a PMI Library staff member resulted in my visiting the library and kindly being given a guided tour. I immediately thought that I would love to volunteer in such a fine library with great historical as well as current collections. As my lengthy career in librarianship had been spent in academic and special libraries and archives, I saw an opportunity to apply my skills and contribute to the PMI Victorian History Library.
As a retiree, I can indulge myself and participate in activities of my choosing. I have five delightful grandchildren aged five to 12 to entertain me. I am a volunteer tour guide at the MCG and in the MCC Library. Tennis, cycling and walking keep me physically fit and, hopefully, the brain is ticking over when I play bridge and mahjong. My husband, Fred, and I travel within Australia and overseas and enjoy fine wine and food. I will always, however, make sure I reserve time for the PMI Library!
I commenced volunteering at the library in early 2017. As it is a lending library, it is important that members can readily retrieve information and locate wanted items on the shelves. In support of this, my first project was to assist in expanding the classification numbers of the art collection. It had grown over the years to some hundreds of titles, but the catalogue had not been revised to reflect such growth.
Most titles were catalogued to the Dewey 700 art call number, with the result that works by the same artist, art periods and styles could not easily be identified by browsing. It was my role to suggest revised call numbers in accordance with the library’s guidelines and Dewey principles. Ellen, collections librarian, checked my work to ensure consistency with library practice. Re-labelling and changing the item record in the catalogue were also in my brief.
This was a most interesting project, partly because the books contained numerous paintings by Australian artists and because it was finite, and I had the feeling of satisfaction upon its completion. I not only gained insight into Australian art, but also learnt something about the library’s classification and cataloguing systems.
Subsequent projects were to similarly expand the call numbers of education, churches, fiction and most recently, the indigenous Australians collection to accord with new guidelines devised by Ellen. You can imagine my delight when, working with the education books, I came across information and photographs of my father that I had never seen. One photograph pictured my father, then a young teacher at University High School, as coach of the football team, which included Essendon legend John Coleman.
Soon I will move onto another project. The beauty of volunteering at the PMI Library is that there is a range of tasks to suit volunteers’ skills. The staff are most helpful and patient and recognise the contributions of volunteers. There is onsite parking, working conditions are pleasant and I have enjoyed meeting fellow volunteers. Being a Stonnington resident, I am very pleased to give back a little to our local community library.