Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lorna Prendergast ~ ALIA Retirees committee

Due to living all of my life in the beautiful south-eastern corner of Australia, at Bairnsdale, I found obtaining further education extremely difficult to say the least. The nearest university was at Melbourne, about 280 kms away. So on turning sixteen I passed the Commonwealth Entrance Exam and became a telephonist at the Bairnsdale Telephone Exchange during the last year of World War 11. After six tremendous years, I had no option but to resign when I married Jim, in 1950, as that was the policy.

We raised four great kids, two girls and two boys, and then in 1967, I had the opportunity to work at the East Gippsland Public Library, following in the footsteps of the famous Australian author, Hal Porter. Our library service covered 21,056 square kms. over some of the most rugged and isolated areas in Victoria. People in these outlying districts loved to see the "Bookie" coming (Keith Ridout has recently completed 45 years on the Run).

I was studying for the ALAA by correspondence when our fifth baby notified us that she was on the way. So after two wonderful years at the public library I was despatched back home again. I continued to study for the ALAA and had two lovely years with our baby girl who won all our hearts. In 1972 I was invited to join the staff at the Bairnsdale Technical School Library and remained there for about 15 years until the Senior School became a TAFE College.

During my time at the Tech, The Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education (now a branch Of Monash Uni.) was established at Churchill (about 160 kms away) which afforded me the opportunity to complete a BA and B Ed there; and a Grad Dip Ed Admin from Hawthorn Institute of Education. This stood me in good stead when I was appointed Librarian in charge of the East Gippsland TAFE College Library. Establishing a new library was a challenge which I thoroughly enjoyed thanks to the help I received from the VATCL librarians and the computer groups. Jim and I love to travel, so while on leave I took every opportunity to meet overseas librarians and check out their libraries, this was particularly useful when setting up the internet as they were a little ahead of us at that time.

I enjoyed every aspect of my library work. Remarks from proud mothers that their children had excelled due to the books available at the public library; or seeing the Technical school girls and boys take their positions in the workforce: or helping provide an opportunity for older TAFE students, like the one who said, "TAFE has given me another chance in life", was the icing on the cake. I still marvel at the changes in information dissemination in my lifetime....it is a long way from when the library was a few books held in the sports cupboard during my school years, to the internet and the wealth of knowledge, so readily available, affording people the opportunity to study almost any thing any where in the world.......it even beats the old adage ‘The right book in the right hand at the right time!’

I retired in 1993 and have continued to enjoy my family, travel, research and voluntary library work with the East Gippsland Family History Group and the Public Library. My husband, Jim is a military historian, author and artist, so between us we rarely have a dull moment.

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