Technology: Helping to connect users and information agencies

What role does technology play in the relationship information agencies develop with their users?

Technology was a common theme in the presentations of information agencies across a broad spectrum in the Sydney 2 study visit session. The uses of technology within the information agencies were integral to the relationship each agency had with its users. Though different uses of technology developed different aspects of the relationship between agency and user, one of the key roles played by technology was that of “connecting”. Technology used by information agencies connects users: to information; to personalised expert help; to the selection process; and to community. These connections create, change and develop various relationships between agency and user.

Technology connects users to information held by information agencies. Furthermore, technology has enabled the location for information exchange to no longer be confined to the library’s physical location, but rather freed in a new virtual mode of relationship between agency and user. Many of the information agencies on the Sydney 2 itinerary had online public access catalogues (OPACs) and e-Resource collections and had digitised selected items from their collections. Providing round-the-clock access to information and resources online extended the reach of these agencies, both geographically and temporally. This enabled them to forge relationships with users that they would not have had contact with otherwise due to distance or time constraints on users’ ability to physically access the library during opening hours.

Wallpaper sample book
Wallpaper sample book from Caroline Simpson Library (c) 2019 Marika Simon (Digitised version at: )

For instance, the Caroline Simpson Library of the Sydney Living Museums has been contacted by users from around the globe in search of rare items that they have made available through their OPAC and through digitised items hosted on the Internet Archive (M. Stephens, personal communication, October 1, 2019). This interest from abroad in a small, specialised library whose main purpose is to provide support for the interpretation of historical houses would have been almost unheard of in the pre-Internet era. Woollahra Library owes approximately 10% of its circulation to e-Resources. It reports that a significant and growing number of its active membership maintains an exclusively virtual relationship with the library – never setting foot in any of the three physical branch locations (V. Munro, personal communication, October 2, 2019).  Those are just two ways that we see technology connecting users to information and developing geographically extended and virtual relationships between information agencies and their users.

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Thoughts on the ALIA Leadership and Innovation Forum 2018 – NSW

Last Thursday, I joined fellow student Liz Parnell at the ALIA Leadership and Innovation Forum 2018 – NSW. On her suggestion, I also took the opportunity to join the ALIA Proficiency Recognition Program PD Scheme. This requires that I reflect on each PD event that I log for the scheme, so here is my reflection on Thursday night:

This panel discussion looked at the theme “Meaningful and respectful engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, culture and heritage”, asking the question, “What more do we need to do?” As a non-indigenous person, some key ideas that struck me were that:
* the worldview and philosophical paradigm of Western culture and indigenous culture are very different
* libraries and other institutions need to look at culturally co-designing spaces, programs, processes, policies and so forth for community relevance
* decisions need to be contexualised within the framework of the community of location and service
* non-indigenous people need to take responsibility for their own cultural (and inter-cultural) competence
* we need to flip the narrative from looking from the perspective of a deficit framework to one that values, acknowledges and builds on what already exists.

As I am now studying and not yet working in a library context, the action points I have taken away from this event are to:
* endeavour to seek out, consider honour and incorporate the indigenous perspective into my studies as much as possible and as appropriate.
* take a cultural competency course.
* find out (and at some point, contact) the indigenous community/representative in my community and the community (ies) where I work.


Australian Library and Information Association. (n.d.). Event details: ALIA Leadership and Innovation Forum 2018 – NSW. Retrieved from
Parnell, L. (2018). Liz at the library: Reflections. Retrieved from

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