Libraries team up with occupational therapists

Last month, our Creative-in-Residence Matt Finch and SLQ’s Amy Walduck joined forces with Griffith University’s School of Allied Health to support student occupational therapists during their Orientation Week.

Exploring new adventures in access to information, students ate a cake which Amy had baked based on one of the defining theoretical diagrams of occupational therapy – and then Matt challenged students to create edible workshop presentations of their own. Students working with Matt also had to propose therapies for a range of cuddly toys with weird and wonderful conditions, including an immortal sock monkey…

You can read more about the activities at Matt’s site.

Griffith University’s Professor Matthew Molineux joined Matt Finch to discuss the connections between occupational therapy and public librarianship.

MF:

So what do occupational therapists do exactly?

MM:

Occupational therapists enable people to engage in all the activities that give their life meaning, meet their personal needs, and fulfil their obligations. You can see an overview of occupational therapy, Griffith-style, on YouTube.

MF:

If librarianship is about ensuring everyone has access to knowledge, information, and culture, maybe you could say OTs do the same for people’s access to the activities you want, need, and have to do in life.

MF: 

Matthew, what do you do in your current role?

MM:

As the head of OT at Griffith, at one level my job is to manage staff, resources, and partnerships to provide quality learning and assessment experiences for students on their journey to become occupational therapists. I am also expected to research and publish. 

However, I think my ultimate role is to make a contribution to society by preparing students, and supporting and challenging the occupational therapy profession ensuring they provide the best services possible.

MF: 

Why did you team up with State Library?

MM:

Matt Finch and I quickly realised there were lots of possibilities for working together. Griffith’s School of Allied Health has worked with Matt to deliver some truly unique and engaging learning experiences for our students. We are also looking to make further links and hopefully we will be able to collaborate on some innovative placements for our third year students.

MF:

Public libraries serve as a safe, trusted space for the community, and are increasingly looking to work with new partners; there’s also a great drive to support the health and wellbeing of our communities.  It would be great to see librarians and occupational therapists actively looking for new ways to join forces in the future.

MM:

I think there are lots of similarities or potential opportunities for collaboration between OTs and librarians, but they are not at the forefront of people’s minds. Occupational therapy has a key role to play in healthcare but we often don’t do as much as we could in working within the broader community. 

I have fond memories of the olden days (!) of flicking through card indexes and sitting on the floor in the stacks surrounded by journals looking for literature. Libraries are now dynamic spaces located in the community, in which a whole range of occupations take place and so I think we could really usefully work together. 

From my personal and professional experiences, I am completely convinced that occupational therapy has so much to offer society. Although some occupational therapists are working in new and exciting roles, the majority still work in traditional health services, and yet we could be having a much wider reach.