Placement at the PMI: With Renee Whitehead

Placement at the PMI: With Renee Whitehead

We’ve had the delight of having Renee Whitehead, a Masters Student from Charles Sturt University on placement for the last two weeks and in April.

As the final part of her placement we’ve asked her to write a blog post about her experiences in the library. It gives a lovely insight into the inner workings of the PMI.


I have had the pleasure of having my three weeks of industry placement at the Prahran Mechanics’ Institute Library (PMI). Working alongside Ellen Coates (Collections Librarian), Steven Haby (Secretary Librarian) and Chris Moysey-Barker (Marketing and Communications Officer) and the many lovely dedicated volunteers and casual workers, I have learned a large amount. The passionate and dedicated workers of the PMI impressed me every single day I was on placement. There is so much work from every one of these people that goes into keeping the PMI running. I was extremely lucky that the staff wanted to show how the library runs while keeping up a hectic schedule.

I started with Steven learning how the database software works and how enrolment of new members is implemented. Then we looked at shelving and how the inner workings of the main library. I also had the pleasure of working alongside Chris helping with some marketing administration. Social media is a new aspect that I embraced, putting up some Facebook posts. It was very different approaching from a professional aspect, rather than a personal user. I found all of this to be really illuminating about how an organisation like PMI works. There are many cogs in the wheel! I also learned how to source books online and buy in store (so much fun!), cataloguing various parts of the collection and indexing new additions.

We (Ellen and myself) also attended an event for Heritage week in Sunbury to the Wurundjeri Ceremonial Rings which was extremely enjoyable. The PMI also hosts many events in the William Moss room and I assisted with the Shared Dreams and Destinies: Botanic Gardens of Melbourne and Sydney with Tim Entwistle. Ellen, Steven and Chris showed me that running a library doesn’t stop at marketing, cataloguing and book buying. It also involves event managing, public speaking and other PR skills to increase the library’s platform and managing events held at the PMI. I enjoyed the strong community focus that the library practices.

The amount I have learned at the PMI while on placement is astronomical. I have learned just how intrinsic the processes are for cataloguing, accessioning and indexing. There are so many things happening at this library every day.  The phrase ‘it takes a village’ is very pertinent when discussing this Institute. Professionally I have learned so much and I have also had the fortune to have had cultural experiences that have enriched myself on a personal level as well. I deeply thank the PMI for all the time and care they took in making sure I had a well-rounded and fulfilling placement.



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