I have started this post late in the week as I took a day's leave on Monday and Tuesday was a public holiday in Australia.
A day in the life of a parliamentary library is interesting indeed. The Association of Parliamentary Libraries of Australasia web site notes:
Access to impartial, current, accurate and timely information is fundamental to democratic legislatures. In their legislative and their representative roles, parliamentarians need information as they monitor current issues, develop policy solutions and influence government decision-making.
Parliamentarians are increasingly time-poor and the parliamentary library assists them by providing:
· tailored and confidential answers to specific questions by Members;
· access to expert staff;
· research papers, or briefings, which include analysis of topical issues and Bills before Parliament;
· 24/7 electronic access to relevant information resources and collections including news and current affairs.
Parliamentary libraries may also offer research support to Parliamentary Committees; and information and knowledge management services to Parliament.
What does this mean for my day? On Wednesday it included training a new client and encouraging them to learn about the wide range of services available from the parliamentary library. Because the analytic services are very different it is great to discuss what can, and cannot be done. Parliament is an overwhelming place in terms of the pace and range of issues and the library can help clients pace themselves. Communicating the range of services in a way that isn’t overwhelming is quite a task and we assign every new client a contact officer for the first couple of years to be their usher through the information landscape. It’s a program that works well.
Another major issue for this week si projects that will make is easier and quicker for clients (and the public) to access information. Focus groups for the next Parliament of Australia website are underway and great ideas about. Thanks to an excellent project manager the wide diversity of views of special users groups and the public are being collected well.
Undoubtedly the highlight of my week will be talking to new library and information students at Charles Sturt University on Friday and Saturday. More later.....