BY KATIE GILLESPIE, AEON IMPLEMENTATION CONSULTANT
In February 2017, I had the honor of representing Atlas Systems in Australia. It was the trip of a lifetime and I was so thrilled to visit libraries and special collections all over Australia and New Zealand. This trip had a lot of firsts for me – my first long-haul flight, first time on the other side of the equator, first time feeding a kangaroo, and first time climbing a suspension bridge.
My first stop, after nearly 36 hours of travel, was Melbourne to train and implement our inaugural Australian Aeon site. I’d been working remotely with staff at the University of Melbourne Cultural Collections Reading Room and their various collections for about 2 months. We switched up our typical implementation model and decided to set up Aeon at a very basic level, get staff trained, go live in the Reading Room, and then revisit workflows in a few months to determine what changes or adjustments needed to be made. The training went smoothly. Staff felt comfortable learning Aeon and were happy to find that we had incorporated their current workflows and practices into their instance of Aeon. On my last day, I spent some time sitting in the Reading Room to see it from a patron’s perspective and worked with staff to finalize their set up. Many thanks to the Aeon project manager, Kiah McCarthy, who worked tirelessly to ensure that systems, staff, and the Reading Room itself were ready to go live with Aeon.
The staff at University of Melbourne were warm and welcoming. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet and train them in person after several months of communicating via conference call. The head of their Reading Room, Carl Temple, was a gracious host and ensured that I didn’t eat a meal alone for the duration of my stay in Melbourne. I was so happy to get to see the city from a local’s perspective and from them I learned a great deal about Australian history. On my last day, they invited me to join them for the opening of the library’s newest exhibition, Plotting the Island, which made use of their new gallery space to display manuscripts, maps, and artifacts related to the exploration of Australia.
Before I left Melbourne, I switched to my secondary duty of visiting and exploring libraries, calling on several local universities and the State Library of Victoria. My visit there began my “Australian Tour of State Libraries,” with subsequent visits to the state library in New South Wales and Queensland. The buildings were all beautifully constructed and open to the public to wander, so I was able to see several exhibits and installations, in addition to peeking into their reading rooms.
After 6 days in Melbourne, I flew to Sydney. I was excited to explore such a historic and famous city and happily spent the weekend walking and taking ferries to as many parts of the city as I could. I walked the Royal Botanic Gardens, toured the Sydney Opera House, took a ferry to Manly Beach, and visited the Taronga Zoo. I toured the Art Museum of New South Wales, where I took in several exhibits of aboriginal art and a special installation of projects done by state high school students. And on my last morning, I participated in the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, where I saw the harbor from 440ft above ground. The climb wasn’t very physically taxing, and is very safe, as long as you can get past the height! The tour guide shared a story about a 92-year-old woman he led on a climb who had attended the bridge opening in 1932 when she was 10 years old. She came back over 80 years later to see it from the top!
In Sydney, I continued my tour of Australian State Libraries where I visited the State Library of New South Wales and conducted a meeting with librarians from a local university.
My next stop was a quick 24 hours in Brisbane for more introductory meetings (and a visit to the State Library of Queensland, of course). I flew from Sydney early in the morning so I would have time to make it to one of my bucket list tourist destinations. I’ve always wanted to hold a koala, so after I arrived, I took a city bus to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. The sanctuary bills itself as the world’s first and largest sanctuary, where they have over 130 koalas, dozens of kangaroos, and many other Australian animals. I got to hold a koala and walk through a field of kangaroos, allowing for petting and feeding (and selfies, of course). This was, by far, my favorite tourist spot and something I’ll never forget. If you are planning a trip to Queensland, Australia any time soon, I’d recommend Lone Pine as a stop on your journey!
Finally, I flew from Brisbane to Auckland, New Zealand for another quick stopover and library visit. Thirty-six hours in New Zealand was not nearly enough, so I hope to be able to visit again someday. Since I didn’t have much time to sightsee (I flew in at night and was leaving at 7am the next day), I saw most of Auckland from the Sky Tower. The tower has 360 degree views from its observation deck, which has a glass floor so you can see straight down to street level. And I did manage to stop by the Auckland City Library on my way to a meeting for my final stop on my library tour.
I got to mix business with pleasure on this trip and I couldn’t be more grateful to my wonderful hosts at the University of Melbourne and to everyone at Atlas Systems for making this trip so memorable. Thanks for sharing my journey.