5 minutes with Debbie Smith

Emerald Library Officer Debbie Smith is a lifelong library user – first, as a child, then as a volunteer and now as a full-time employee. Read on to find out where she thinks libraries are heading next.

Debbie Smith

Debbie Smith at professional development workshop in Emerald, 2017

How did you first come to be part of the libraries?

I was always a library user since childhood. I became a volunteer at Emerald when we moved here and moved on to casual and then full-time. As a volunteer, I would come in 2-3 mornings a week and do the shelving and shelf checking mainly.

Can you share a memorable story from your time in libraries?

A customer once brought me flowers to say “thank you” for helping them with some research. I don’t remember what the research was now, but I do remember it took some time to find what they wanted!

What do you love most about libraries?

I love the people I meet. We have such diverse customers. I have met people from nearly all walks of life.

What do you think libraries need to do next?

Libraries need to keep up with new technologies, but they also need to remember the people who are not technology savvy and don’t wish to be. We need to embrace the changes of modern society (self-serve checkouts, downloadable books, robotics etc.), but in the rush to be modern and up to date, we need to make sure we are still servicing the needs of those who do not wish to be digitally savvy.

If you were a library manager what would be the number one thing you would do?

Communicate well with my staff. If a manager wants his/her staff to be efficient and take initiative, they need to be kept appraised of what is happening. A manager with poor communication skills will find they are not able to effectively delegate tasks to their team, and the business will look inefficient as staff are not able to provide information and services to customers. Having to say to a customer, “I don’t know; I will have to check with the manager”, does not inspire confidence in the business.