Archive for the ‘Student Placements’ Category

I was having lunch with one of my previous Uni Lecuturers today and I was chatting about how I have been hosting student workplacements, but how later on, I get them to add something to my blog and also we have a get together every six months or so to catch up, follow up on what they have learnt and then get them to meet each other. It surprised me when I was told that what I do is quite unique. Wow ! But it’s so easy. You spend and invest an amount of time in a student’s life, why not catch up with them later to offer support, friendship and mentoring, plus, I learn alot about what they are learning now and where they plan to head in their career.

Where did I get the idea to catch up with the students from? I was involved in a mentoring group run by Moyra McAllister and Kerrie Ludekens in 2001, in Melbourne, and the following year, we all had a reunion and met old mentoring students, who I am now friends with.  Hence, I got alot out of that mentoring example and applied it to my own.

This seems to be a simple formula, but not used much. Maybe you should try it and see what the results are? I am so proud of my past students and love to see how they are developing now, and I’ll be interested for years to come to see where they end up and hear about the influence they have on their future organisation in whatever line of work they choose to specialise in. We are meeting in a few weeks and expect to hear many great stories about their progress. I’ll keep you updated !


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You have heard from a range of my students about what they are up to with their life, post work placement. Now I’d like to introduce to you, “Lizzy from Bangkok” (you could say like the song, Jenny from the Block). You have seen Lizzy’s photo on here when I visited Bangkok and caught up with her in August, we had a very unusual library meeting (if you think it was that formal) at an unusually named place (check the photos out to see the name).!!

When Lizzy joined me for work placement during July to October 2005, at Urbis (we were called UrbisJHD then- terrible name) she was training to be a Library Technician. Now she’s studying to be a Librarian (hey, congrats Lizzy) through Charles Sturt Uni, and it’s now good to see her story, 2 years later, to learn about what she’s doing now. Over to Lizzy…

After a stint at Central Queensland University where I was doing library technician stuff which was mostly customer service, checking books in and out, shelving, covering books and the like, I moved to Bangkok and got a job at a K-12 school library. I was working with one other staff member, and she put me in charge of circulation, while she focused on cataloguing and acquisitions. Circulation was (and still is) a bit of a mess. Because only part of the collection is catalogued on the computer, borrowing is done both manually with date stamps and cardboard library cards; and on the computer, by keying in book codes to the student numbers. This will continue until the entire collection is catalogued.

A couple of months after arriving, my colleague, who wasn’t happy at the school, quit her job, leaving me in charge! So since then I’ve been in charge of acquisitions, which has included chatting with sales reps who come by the school, liaising with teachers, going through book catalogues and trawling the internet, and attending second-hand book sales. I’ve also been cataloguing, and you can forget your online Dewey and online school subject headings, I’m doing it either with Sears subject heading and Dewey volumes, or copy-cataloguing from the Internet. Every record must be entered manually, as our Library Management System (an in-house design) doesn’t incorporate MARC records.

I now have another librarian working with me, and she has taken over a huge backlog of cataloguing (both retrospective & new books), and running library classes for grades 1-4, while I take care of circulation and management of the library.

The collection is probably around 8,000 volumes. One of the issues we have to consider is what ends up in the general collection (for everyone to borrow) and what is reserved for teachers (materials that might be specifically for teachers, and others that are considered ‘unsuitable’ for students). Another problem is donations. For example, we recently received 2 boxes of videos, some dirty and dusty, which we have to decide what to do with. This will take time, as the videos will all need to be played to see if they still work, and if they are worth the time, effort and space required to catalogue and house them. A third problem is that we aren’t given a budget to work with: we must simply make requisitions and hope they are approved.

I would never have guessed in a million years that I would be doing what I’m doing now, I always thought I’d be able to pick and choose a well-resourced school to work in, if I even went into school libraries, but library jobs are thin on the ground in Bangkok, partly because of Thai labour restrictions on foreigners, and also because I am not yet qualified as a librarian (I’m doing post-grad now), so I was lucky to get this job at all. But the students are gorgeous (for the most part!) and I’m getting some amazing experience that is really helping with my post-grad course.

Elizabeth Player (aka Lizzy Player)

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 I mentioned in an earlier post that I met up with an old student of mine, Lizzy Player, in Bangkok, Thailand. Mind you, I had a funny tummy and couldn’t stomach anything. So Lizzy and my husband got to indulge in Thai food while I attempted not to watch.

We still did a bit of a tiny pub crawl, firstly hitting a place called Cheap Charlies. Which is basically a pub on the street where all the ex pats and tourists hit. And yes, it’s cheap but also full of lots of ephemeral stuff that would cause any small child to have nightmares. But it adds to the attraction of the place. Below is a pic of us at CC’s.

Cheap Charlies

Anyway, view below and you will see what I’m on about.

Thanks Lizzy for a great catch up !! You are a gem ! And it’s good to throw out the image of librarians as being shhhhhhhhh people, as this catch up was one to remember. Librarians rock in Bangkok !



Yeeeees, the restaurant is called, Cabbages and Condoms !!

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How could we measure the skill outcomes of student placements? As I don’t seem to think it is really done in a succinct way. Maybe there is a reason for that.

The story I have in my post from my past student, Vanessa Lastrina, (A 3rd years experience so far) actually extracts some skills she has learnt, which includes:

  • Dublin Core
  • Extranets
  • Intranet
  • Thesaurus Construction
  • Databases
  • Cataloguing – including websites
  • Metadata
  • Ultranet
  • Gateway
  • Content Management System

This is a list derived from Vanessa’s own learning. It has got me thinking about whether educational institutions should assess their students learning by checking off the list as well as getting students to write their diary and complete a project. I think it would also be great for their resume as they can list what they have learnt in the workplace. Not sure what others think about this?

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The time has come for Minzah’s placement to wrap up. Here’s what she has to say about her last week and her placement…

My placement has come to an end! I have learnt so much over the three weeks and gained a lot of knowledge during my time here. I would like to thank the Knowledge and Information Management team at Urbis for helping me throughout my professional development. Before commencing my placement I had expectations of what I may learn, and believe me I have far exceeded them.
During my time at Urbis I was able to develop capabilities of reflective analytical practice and socially and culturally responsible practice specific to Urbis. With these skills I was able to evaluate services offered by Urbis, in relation to its clientele; observe and evaluate the activates, processes and systems which support the organisation’s functions; observe the range of resources within the organisation and their relationship to the services offered; and finally evaluate the strategies employed to assess the effectiveness of the organisations services and programs. 
What I most enjoyed from working Urbis was the ability to explore the many different sides of Knowledge & Information Management. I was able to examine how the Knowledge and Information Management team is broken down into sections, such as library staff, database staff and GIS.  
I undertook many tasks throughout my time at Urbis and the great thing was each task varied day-to-day. From doing desk-circulation work; to creating a library induction for podcasting using MediaWiki. I was also given the opportunity to go through the process of cataloging
I spent a lot of time with Katy Li (library technician), which gave me an insight of the daily activities commenced in the K&IM team. She helped me understand the cataloguing system whilst explaining the two types (electronic and hardcopy), with the help of Katy I was able to observe and participate in management processes which helped me in understanding how data is managed and maintained at Urbis.
Finally many students think placement involves sitting in front of you desk and typing away, well this maybe right depending on where you do it. Fortunately for me I was given hands-on experience, with the opportunity to visit the Athenaeum Library, Bureau of Metrology Library and the State Library. My experience at Urbis has been excellent, I am now able to explore future career opportunities and asses my professional development. Thanks Jill for this fantastic opportunity

We both agree that her experience has really come together and that her placement at Urbis has benefited her learning with regards to what happens in a private corporate library. I look forward to posting another blog as Minzah progresses in her career. And who knows, our collaboration, and that with my other students, may evolve into some research down the track.

Thanks again Minzah.

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Since I have been reporting on Minzah’s experience at Urbis, I got to thinking about some other ideas for reporting how my past students are going. I think it’s excellent to hear about a current student, but even more worthwhile to hear how they have gone on their journey since they left my workplace.

I’d like to introduce to you Vanessa Lastrina, a 3rd year RMIT student, who undertook her work placement with me a year ago. Here’s what she has to say about her progress over the last year…

Wow! It has been a year already since I did my placement at Urbis, what have I been up to since then?
Urbis allowed me to undertake some library experience and gave me an insight as to how information is stored electronically. In this new information age, it is vital to have both physical and electronic methods of storing information that can be accessed by necessary staff at any time.

The last placement I undertook was at Latrobe University– School of Public Health where I worked at the Cochrane Consumers and Communication Review Group Library. I was a little disappointed with this placement as my interests lie in web and database development as well as working with organisational documents stored electronically. However, I was prepared to have an open mind and learn about the library sector and how it differs to the corporate sector. I learnt how to construct a ‘real’ thesaurus with all health related terms and words as well as undertake a stocktake in the library of all the Health Issues Materials such as articles, books, reports, conference papers, etc. I also was able to use a few different medical databases called Procite, Medline, etc as well the library catalogue where we were required to enter or edit records. During my time at Latrobe University I observed that  Academics do not have a structured working environment compared to those working in a corporate environment.

I am currently undertaking another placement at the Department of Education- Victorian Education Channel; they are located in the Information Technology Division of the Department. The Channel provide links to online resources for school students, teachers and principals, these links/websites have been recommended and reviewed by educators. I have been able to work in an environment where my interests lie and have been able put my studies to practical use. Towards the end of placement, I have been able to catalogue websites for primary school students and add metadata to them using the Dublin Core Metadata Elements, I was able to participate in forum and discuss what student learning means to mean, I have been able to observe the working of the Department’s new Intranet called the Ultranet and their upcoming information portal called eduGate which will provide a central gateway to information systems and allow for collaboration and sharing knowledge. Currently, I am amending a particular part of a website called the Website Tool Kit, which has quite a lot of redundant and unnecessary information. I have the opportunity to edit and then publish the site using the Education Channel’s Web Content Management System

The activities I have undertaken during placement have been very interesting in learning and understanding about different organisations. Their restructure of web content and the purpose of information management in an organisational and educational setting to cater for all user needs, has provided very useful insights and application of theory into practice in the real world. (Vanessa Lastrina)

Thanks for your thorough update Vanessa, you have certainally started to up your learning and it’s great to hear you using all the library terms such as Metadata, Dublin Core, Portals, Intranets and Ultranets. It sounds like you have quite a varied experience by coming to a private company like Urbis, then going to a University and then working for the Victorian Government. I am curious to know where you will end up at the end of this year.  Please keep us in touch.

Are my readers enjoying this element of collaboration?? I’d love you to make a comment and let me know about your thoughts…

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My student (Minzah) has been moving right along with her learning, and a fair bit of it is self driven as I like to see my students become independent in the workplace. As this is what it will be like for them when they hit the real world.

Minzah was given a task to create an entire new (but small which is good) collection. She was required to assess our GIS CD-ROMs’ with the GIS Consultants help, to determine what categories they should be filed in. (our special library files items on the shelf by category, not dewey).  Once the items were in their sections, she needed to think about the fields that would be filled out in the Library Catalogue, and then if she was unable to fill out all the fields, due to information missing from the CD cover, she could ask the GIS Consultant to fill in the gaps for her. Together, we determined the shelf numbering of the item, and how it would look on the shelf. And off she goes…

She also carried out many other smaller activities, like quick reference, getting a quote for book acquisitions and doing some hands on work in the library. Just to mix it up a bit.

Here’s what Minzah has to say about Week 2 of her placement

Wow another week already over. This week was quicker than my first. I must admit I had an exciting week as I was able to apply my theoretical studies to practice.

Early this week I had a meeting with the Knowledge & Information Manager. That was great as he really got me thinking about my future goals. During this meeting I was able to examine the services offered by the K&IM team to Urbis and understand how I&KM is applied to the organisation.

Mid-week, I was given a problem to solve which really got me thinking about information management. From scratch I had to organize CD’s into a collection that agreed with the current library cataloguing rules used by Urbis. Firstly, the CD’s were arranged in sections, then I examined what appropriate fields should be used, finally with the help of Jill we decided on suitable shelf numbering and the CD’s were ready to catalogue. I enjoyed going through the process as it gave me a break-down of how cataloging is done.

I have also been doing a lot of on MediaWiki. One of the projects I have been given during my time here is to set up an induction page which is to be turned into a series of podcasts. I have been using MediaWiki to share my thoughts and ideas with the team. I think it’s a fantastic tool to use, as it allows me to collaborate with others.

Yesterday Jill, Katy and I went to visit the Bureau of Meteorology library. I really enjoyed that, it allowed me to understand the organisations range of resources and services offered. It gave me a different perspective of a specialised library.

Overall I have an excellent second week, and covered so much.


Her learning is now moving up a notch and she is working and communicating well with our team. The group collaboration with the podcasting activity, while using the Wiki is also facilitating her interactions.

I’m looking forward to next week, and of course, we’ll give you an update at the end of the week…

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