Placement at the PMI: With Melanie

Placement at the PMI: With Melanie


Greetings! I’m sure you’ve seen me around the library, but if not, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Melanie and I am a first-year library studies student studying at Box Hill Institute. I am currently studying to become a library technician and have been very fortunate to be completing my placement here at the Prahran Mechanics Institute for 15 days from July to October.


It has been astonishing to see many different events hosted at the library. Before my placement I didn’t even know the library existed, let alone that it is the second oldest library in Victoria! There have been so many events, from Historical Society Month (just completed in August), to a Scout Heritage Victoria event. I have also met members from different societies including the Cinema and Theatre Historical Society of Australia (CATHS) and the Australian Railway Historical Society.

Tasks I’ve Been Competing

Without a doubt, this has been an interesting placement. My classes have taught me how to complete tasks in theory, but it is great to do them in practice and physically learn them. During my time here, I have been ordering new books and cataloguing them for the library. I’ve been busy completing new social media posts, which you may have seen, including posts about the Royal Flying Doctors Service and different types of carriages in the 1800’s. I have a few more coming up in the next few weeks. I’ve been busy learning how to cover new books, which has been most fun. I was amazed that the Prahran Mechanics Institute was one of few libraries that still processes their books themselves and does not outsource this. Book covering was a highlight of my first week here. I’ve also been learning how to better help you, the patrons, with questions. Some other tasks have been shelving and indexing books and periodicals.

Whilst I have been at the front desk it has been interesting, and a little nervous to say the least, to help patrons with their queries. Because the library is specialised but diverse in its contents, each query has been different and exciting to help with. Some of these have been about railways, family history and indigenous culture in Victoria. It has been interesting to see where these searches lead me and why patrons would want this information.

I have been completing my placement one day a week until October, and since it is only August I still have over a third to go. I am excited to see what more I could learn, especially in cataloguing and indexing. I’d love to explore more and learn more about the diverse collection that the library holds.

I’d love to thank the staff at the Library for taking me on, even though I knew close to nothing on how a library works in practice at the start of my placement They have been extremely patient and welcoming which has made me enjoy my time here even more. I have learnt a lot over my time and hope to continue doing so as my placement continues.

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.