Imogen Garner

Imogen Garner BA, BEd, MEd, GradDipMgt, FALIA

Fellowship conferred 2006

Imogen Garner began her professional career as a teacher-librarian in government secondary schools. She is now University Librarian at Western Australia's largest university, Curtin University of Technology. The foundation of Imogen's successful career and her contribution to the profession is her dedication to libraries, library professionals and education. This dedication is supported by her professional and considered approach to management.

Her contribution to the library profession in Western Australia began in the mid-1980s when she worked with Anne Clyde on the West Australian and the national School Libraries Sections of the LAA, writing the report 'Online information services for schools: the implications for school libraries'.

Imogen was Associate Librarian, Client Services at the University of Western Australia (UWA) for 13 years. She was instrumental in rethinking the library's approach to client service. A significant initiative in this area was in reference services. As a result of changes in technology and demand from clients the reference desk was dispensed with as the main delivery point for reference services in all UWA libraries, one of the first Australia university libraries to rethink the delivery of reference services in this way. As President of the University, College and Research Libraries section (UCRLS) from 1990 to 1994, Imogen also ensured that the research being done in institutions was shared with the wider library profession through a program of regular meetings with guest speakers. This program continues today through the Academic & Research Libraries (WA Group).

Since 2003, Imogen has been reshaping the Curtin library and its services to meet the changing demands of technology, curriculum and students. The important information technology focus of a modern library service has been developed under her stewardship. The Library and Information Service has introduced four new services based on advancing information and communication technology: an interactive internet reference service (Ask Online), an online enquiry system (Eclectic), an SMS enquiry service (a first in the Australian higher education sector, which has attracted international interest) and a library blog. In December 2005, the Curtin Library and Information Service won the Vice Chancellor's Award for Excellence for its commitment to innovative client services. Imogen has given greater attention to the needs of Curtin's large international student body. After considering their social and academic use of the library, Imogen introduced a student lounge area, which has expanded the role of the library space on the campus.

An increased focus on research within Australian universities encouraged Imogen to review library services and resources within her institution. As a result she established the Research Services Unit in 2005 to drive library support for research within the university. She presented a paper at the 27th Annual Conference of the International Association of Technological University Libraries (IATUL) in Portugal on her approach. Her work in tying research to LIS services was recognised and extended when she was nominated as a CAUL representative on the Australian Digital Thesis (ADT) Policy Reference Group. ADT is a major initiative funded by DEST to bring the research of our academic institutions to the notice of researchers around the world.

Reciprocal borrowing has been a major part of Imogen's contribution to the development of library services, both in Western Australia and nationally. Her work in the automation of reciprocal borrowing began locally with AUSLG in WA. This innovative scheme was later taken up by CAUL when it began to consider the national reciprocal borrowing scheme. In 2001 Imogen became a foundation member of the CAUL University Library Australia (ULA) Working Group, invited by the Western Australian Group of Librarians (WAGUL) to represent public and academic libraries in Western Australia because of her extensive work on local co-operative borrowing arrangements. The ULA model has been a success and is being considered by library services in other countries. She also contributes to the Libraries of the Australian Technology Network (LATN), chairing the steering group of librarians from all ATN libraries responsible for the development of an online information literacy course for the e-Grad School (Australia) project, a virtual graduate school.

Imogen works to develop professional partnerships. The library profession has benefited from her engagement in cross-disciplinary debate, resulting in improved policy outcomes. She was a mentor for the Leadership Development initiative at the University of Western Australia, has represented the Western Australian Ministry of Education on the Library Board of WA and on ACLIS. She was WA Director (1988-90) and Deputy Chair of Executive (1990) of the Australian Schools Cooperative Information Service (ASCIS) Board and was Chair of the Teacher Librarian Consultative Committee (Western Australian College of Advanced Education) in 1988-89.

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has benefited from Imogen's capacity to act in senior roles. She served a term as WA Section President of the University, College and Research Libraries Section of ALIA (1991-94) and as a member of the ALIA Branch Council (1991-94). Imogen then served the Association as a WA Branch Councillor in 1997 and as ALIA General Councillor (WA representative) in 1998-99. In 1999 Imogen joined the ALIA Board of Education, undertaking course recognition visits, and in 2000 became its last Chair. This experience created a natural progression into the 2001-02 LISEKA Project Working Group (Library and Information Science Education for the Knowledge Age). This group was tasked with developing a national approach to career-long education of library and information workers. LISEKA outcomes, particularly in regard to professional development, contributed to important policy development associated with Object 3 of the Association: the high standard of personnel engaged in information provision and the fostering of their professional interests and aspirations. Imogen's was an important contribution to this confirmation of ALIA as the standards body for the profession and its important role in the provision of continuous professional development.

In 2003 Imogen was elected ALIA Vice-President and became President in 2004-05. She undertook these demanding duties tirelessly. In her first Frontline column as President, she asked members 'What can you do for your Association?' She has done much for ALIA, and her example is admirable. Following her term as ALIA President, she demonstrated her continued commitment to the Association by becoming Convenor of the ALIA 2006 Conference Committee. She is currently an active member of the ALIA National Awards Committee. Her commitments extend to related associations: she became a member of the Aurora Board in 2006 and is a member of editorial board of Access, the journal of the Australian School Library Association.

For her contribution to university library service provision, her service to ALIA and to the professional standards of the sector, Imogen Garner is a worthy recipient of the distinction of Fellow of the Australian Library and Information Association.