Two dedicated members of library staff have received well deserved recognition for over 25 years of service with the University at a recent award ceremony. Moira Speir and Pauline van der Laan have both worked in different areas of the library during their time with the University, and have both seen many changes to the services the library provides to the University’s students and staff, as well as many developments in the wider world of librarianship.
Moira began working for the University in 1989, based first of all at the issue desk in the fondly remembered but recently demolished Queen Mother Library. Moving on after several years at the issue desk Moira then worked helping students and staff locate library materials, firstly in the Science and Engineering collections and then the Social Science holdings. This broad subject and collection knowledge then led to her taking her experience behind the scenes to help manage the ever-growing Serials, or Journals, collections, where she is currently still based.
In her time with the library Moira has experienced the movement from paper-only collections to the vast profusion of electronically available materials. And not only has she seen profound changes in the way in which academic resources are delivered, she has even seen some new formats come and go in those 25 years. She has seen the CD-ROM come in as the next new thing, transforming the ability to present large amounts of information on a single disk, only to see them be phased out as the capacity to provide information over the internet has increased exponentially, demonstrating the ways in which libraries are always engaging at the forefront of how knowledge and information are stored, managed and delivered.
Pauline has seen similar changes in her time working in libraries, having experienced the movement from card catalogues kept in row upon row of wooden drawers which contained hand-typed cards to the range of online catalogues and databases which now guide students and staff to the materials they need, be they in paper or online. Or in Pauline’s case, whether they are in paper, online, are puppets or even inflatable models of our solar system, as she has spent years working with the collection of library resources used by Education students, both for their own education and the education of those pupils they are teaching in school classrooms as they learn the art and science of teaching.
Pauline began working at the Northern College of Education in 1979 and has worked with the Education collections ever since, apart from a gap of a few years to start her family. The Northern College of Education merged with the University of Aberdeen in more recent times, and Pauline was involved in transferring the Education library collections from their previous home in Hilton Road to Queen Mother Library, and then latterly into The Sir Duncan Rice Library. Aside from guiding students to academic resources she has the enviable responsibility of selecting the materials for the Teaching Resource Collection (TRC) on floor 6 of TSDRL. The TRC contains books alongside materials not normally thought of as being found in academic libraries. Not only does she select them, she has to make sure they all work when they arrive in the library, therefore the floor 6 office can at different times be the scene of displays of plastic dinosaurs, foam human skeletons, or even the place for the quiet testing of musical instruments. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, for the benefit of the children, so thank you Pauline!
They have enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, their time working for the University and wait to see what new developments and changes may happen in the years of work they still have ahead of them here as part of the Library team.
Ewan Grant, Information Adviser