AskLIS: What are the differences between US librarianship and Australian librarianship?

AshtabulaGuy writes "I turn to the collective world-wide-LISNewsterz-Wisdom for some advice. What are the differences between US librarianship and Australian librarianship? That is a burning question. Although Australia utilizes AACR2r, what is different in practice there? If an American was to be on exchange for a year, what would they likely expect? Any pointers as to starting points for seeking knowledge in this case?"


Well the first thing you should know is that Aussie is pronounced Ozzy (as in Ozzy Osbourne).
From there we can move on to more serious difference (keeping in mind that I haven't been to your part of the world, but I probably get more American culture force fed to my society than you get Aussie culture).
We have no patriot act, indeed to American eyes we have no patriotism. However, that is just culture shock. Most Australians are proud of the fact that we’re not proud.
Aussie libraries don’t tend to have titles challenged. I’m not saying it never happens, but I’ve never worked in a library where we had a set procedure for what to do with a complaint of that sort. My usual method is tell them to put their complaint in writing after which point I’ll never hear anything about it.
On exchange you might notice your spell-check starts underlining words you thought were correct.
You probably need to let us Aussies (remember the pronunciation, we won’t be offended but we will laugh at you. Besides how can America expect to deal with the complexities of a vastly different culture like Iraq when you can’t even make the effort to pronounce Melbourne correctly) know if you are planning to sojourn to a specific type of library. No point me going on about the public system when you are a specialist in presidential libraries (oh, and we don’t have presidential libraries due to a lack of presidents. This lack should not be taken as a sign we are not a democracy, we’re quite happy without any and don’t need liberating. We even got to vote a little while ago and we voted not to have one.).
And while I’m on the topic, if the American president is the leader of the free world, why don’t I get to vote? I’m part of the free work damn it! Oh, and land of the free, HA, I refer you back to my point on the patriot act.
You will hear people talking about cricket like it is important. This is very prevalent with male librarians. If you begin to find this difficult, you could do worse than remember that some of your own countrymen think that baseball is a sport. Oh and don’t get us started about American football.
We have constant battles to keep up the level of funding, same as y’all (see, I can make the effort to use your language).
Aussie libraries are currently trying to update their image, and the image of librarians. So bun wearing shushers need to be aware we will force them to be cataloguers and stick them in the basement where they will see nothing of Australia that isn’t on the dust jacket of a book. So what is the new image for librarians, well we’re realise that all that is successful about Australia involves khaki clothing and crocodiles, so we’re spicing up the libraries with live reptiles and Linda Kozlowski look alikes (see we do welcome Americans).
Despite years of work by American cola companies and fast food chains Aussies still get most of their calories from food.
Despite years of work by American drug companies Aussies still get most of their vitamins from food.
Combining these two facts, if you let your Aussie co-workers know that you consider pop tarts a food, you will discover that this voids any chance people will listen to you. Yes, if you dare suggest that a big bowl of frosted anything (let alone with cola on the side) is a breakfast for anyone other than a seven year old with no parental supervision you will find that no one cares about your wealth of experience with ephemera collections. You will be forever known as the American Pop Tart. As in “Does anyone know if the American Pop Tart finished the shelving�.

Oh and, you won’t understand our sense of humour. This entire reply has been funny and if you haven’t noticed (or if you were offended) then a trip down under will probably be more fun for you than a visit to Australia would be. No, I could go on, but I won’t.

John, the ADHD librarian

I'm contemplating this for a few months next year. I went to Australia for a library conference in December. I found that the libraries I visited [a few state libraries and a few public, not any sort of real sampling] were a bit more institutional seeming than the ones in the US, but they also seemed a lot more like part of one big system instead of the way they seem to me out here [a lot of local funding, totally different style of library from one town to the next]. I met a lot of nice young librarians and they have a special conference just for new librarians which is what I went to and it was a heck of a lot of fun. At the Australian Library conferences, everyone dances!

I'm sure you've done this already, but check out the ALIA web site, they have a lot of good information [and RSS feeds] that might help you figure some of this out. My take on it, very informally was that it would not be too tough to do an exchange from the US to Australia.

It is always interesting to me to see Australians criticize the US, and then call it humor. The kangaroo yahoos Down Under have three priorities: beer, betting, and women. Now any country that proudly places women third in their list of interest among men is a place that will probably remain more desert than populated for a long time.
        Unless you rely on immigration. Today Australia is the "barbie backyard" of New Zealand, and where they want to move the official capital of Australia from Canberra to Wellington, so it can better represent their native born citizens. They wanted to send the national library of Australia to Wellington, but they couldn't afford to ship both all of the twenty books they own (half of them by native Australian writers, and the other half of them are pineapple upside down cake recipe books) and their prized collection of antique Australian beer bottles. This beer bottle takes up most of their shelving, and most of the office space of the librarians.
      The main difference between Aussies and Amis is that when you cross the equator, that's when your airplane or passenger ship turns upside down, and all the cobbers walk around on their heads from then on. This also turns the Dewey Decimal System, called the International Decimal System down there, topsy-turvey. Indeed, since the card catalog cabinets are upside down on the ceiling, those little rods that go through the holes in the cards were invented in Australia so the cards wouldn't all fall out when you are looking for something unusual.
        Cricket is indeed something both male and female librarians talk about. You can never get rid of them! In Australia, the mole crickets and Brisbane cockroaches grow so large that migrating herds of them displace the wallabees and even scare the bejessus out of the native dingos and dingleberries (in Australia, the dingleberries use the liberries quite often, and those that pick enough liberries often grow up to be liberrians!) As for aimlessly meandering herds of those bugs, you try a traditional Aussie walkabout on six legs! Besides, the bugs also consider any collection of books as a tucker box, and get "riled" when anyone wants to check a book out, as the book is considered their rightful Lamington and Pumpkin Scone.
        As for library cataloging, by American standards it is quite watered down down under. Much like their exported cattle meat is watered down with cheaper kangaroo meat, which btw also gives a whole new meaning to pocket sandwich!
      Granted Americans speak a weird form of English, but Australians don't even speak that. They speak a Pommie-Irish-Liverpuddlian dialect and stridulation called "Strine". Now Strine is a strain to hear and even more of a strain to understand, as it is coupled with the worst sotto voce speakers in the world. Indeed, even their printed subject headings are mumbled and grunted.
        I would have thought that Americans have the greatest number of problem patrons in libraries, but nothing compares to a drunken visit by the local lager louts trying to look up ancient football scores to settle a bet (see above). The term, "Tasmanian Devil" must have been invented to describe them and their disruptive ways.
      Now for those Australian librarians who have trouble reading this message, here is a clue: print this message out on the local printer, then hold it upside down. Now, isn't that all dinkum better?
        You bet, cobber!Lee (All in Fun, mate!) Hadden

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