2002-2012: A 21st century library

Perceptions of the purpose and uses of Robertson Library underwent a paradigm shift in the new century. When Imogen Garner joined Curtin as University Librarian in 2003, ‘sense of place predominated, but by 2012 a tipping point had been reached where the Library had become a place in space for the majority of staff and students and the electronic delivery of resources and services prevailed’. 1

Guided by an advisory group with a vision and plan for the spaces, major modifications were made to the interior of Robertson Library. Early developments reflected changes in the delivery of resources and services. Spatially, the Lounge@your Library replaced the bindery, the technology rich iZone replaced the photocopying unit, and informal learning spaces supplanted the new books and journals displays.

As the Library’s preference changed to purchasing electronic resources over physical items, print collections were reduced in size and spaces once occupied by shelving were converted to client areas providing everything from silent zones for quiet reflection and study to busy areas where social interaction was encouraged. From 2006 increasing use of laptops required a wireless network and refurbished spaces capable of supporting demand for bandwidth and power.

In this environment, the enhanced library website became the key, and for many clients the only, way of accessing services and resources. Journals, e-books, reserve material (e-Reserve), Curtin research (espace@Curtin), digital archives and more became available online.

The Library’s move to the Ex Libris library management system prepared the way for the introduction of a new catalogue in 2010 which provided a single search interface for all collections and fundamentally changed the way clients searched for information. More recently a mobile website was developed to deliver library resources and services direct to devices such as smart phones and iPads.

Virtual reference services, provision of online research and study tools for clients (including LibGuides and interactive tutorials), and electronic supply of documents changed how the library delivered its services.

Throughout this transformative shift in delivery of services and resources, Robertson Library as a physical destination remained at the heart of the campus, providing a place for research and reflection, learning and social engagement. It was busier than ever in 2011 when over 1.5 million people used the building.

iZone, 2008The iZone, 2008.

Imogen GarnerImogen Garner was appointed University Librarian in July 2003. Her qualifications include a Masters in Education, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Management.

Before coming to Curtin, she was the Associate Librarian, Client Services at the University of Western Australia Library for 13 years. Prior to this, Ms Garner had worked for the Education Department of Western Australia in a number of roles.

She has held various postions in the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), including General Councillor (WA representative), Chair of the ALIA Board of Education and President of the Association. Ms Garner was made a Fellow of the Association in 2006. 

Robertson Library home A concrete presence A centre for innovation Bigger and better A 21st century library Facts and figures