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Librarian Highlight: Pauline Lam - New, but not so new

by Pauline Lam on 2018-03-22T13:38:00+08:00 | Comments

I’m not really a new staff anymore as I’ve been here for about six months now, how time flies! I replaced Brian Minihan as the new Scholarly Communications Librarian in mid-September last year and am enjoying the various challenges in this new role. Some people may call me a hybrid librarian as my original background is in the commercial sector in design management and marketing/communication - not typical in the library world at all!

My library degree was acquired in New Zealand after my family immigrated there in 2004. Like many others, I started as a Library Assistant. My first job was at the Auckland Council Libraries as a casual staff. New Zealand is one of the most literate countries in the world and their public libraries are way ahead compared to Hong Kong’s equivalent. As a casual staff, I floated around many branch libraries doing shelving and answering simple enquiries. While there, I was offered a one-year contract to index some Chinese heritage journals spanning fifty years. One was published by Kuomintang in the 1930s and was quite political, all hand-written! I learned a lot about the early lives of Chinese New Zealanders - gold miners and market gardeners with really hard lives. That year for me was full of sad but interesting discoveries about the New Zealand Chinese diaspora community. It was overall quite an amazing experience!

After the public library, I went on to work for two academic university libraries in Auckland. I became a cataloguer at the University of Auckland Library and was there for about four years. Some people may not see it but I think the nature of cataloguing requires quite a bit of creativity, a lot of in-depth understanding of user information-seeking behaviours, and heaps of common sense logics. After all, it’s about grouping and organising information for retrieval to suit human needs. As much as I love organising information, I really wasn’t that good at following rules on a daily basis as I wanted to break them!

Because of my design and marketing background, for my next job, I ended up at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Library and was their Communications and Business Information Coordinator for three and a half years. AUT has New Zealand’s top design school and my daughter is actually studying there now. In that role, I job-shared a lot with the Staff Planning and Development Coordinator Annie McKillop and together we organised many events and professional development activities. Members of the Staff Development Task Force at HKBU Library will recall Annie’s sharing last year when she was passing by Hong Kong to see me.

In late 2015, I wanted to come back to spend some time with my elderly mother and my husband said he would give me a one-year “annual leave”. I never thought I would be working in Hong Kong and this is my second job after coming back. I was at CityU Library first in their Research Support team when they were implementing Pure, a CRIS system that has been adopted by a few other JULAC libraries. That was my first time in research support and scholarly communications which basically led me to this job here at HKBU.

Scholarly communication is a relatively new area in the academic world– open access, copyright, institutional repository, research data management, all fast-developing and exciting areas. I’m in the middle of working with the Knowledge Transfer Office on campus to organise an intellectual property day event and we’re finalizing promotional details. I never thought I would get involved in copyright as I always thought of it as dry, confusing, and complicated. Although there are still so many things I don’t know, I’ve found that copyright is actually not as intimidating as most people think. It just takes a lot of patience to wade through those lengthy details to understand what they are trying to say. Anyway, watch out for this event and come join us on 24 April.

That’s it for now. I’m based in the Multimedia Learning Centre within the Digital and Multimedia Services team. Do feel free to drop by and say hello!


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