'I feel like a detective'

Gerardine Parslow, ANSTO Library

Sometimes I feel like a detective following a trail.

That’s how Gerardine Parslow describes her work as an interlibrary loan officer at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) Library.

‘I sometimes receive requests for extremely obscure items which are very difficult to locate,’ she explains. ‘I may be asked to find articles from Russian journals dating back to the 1960s, or articles which are in journals held by only a handful of libraries in the world. It can be a time-consuming process tracking these down.’

ANSTO Library is Australia’s most comprehensive scientific centre for nuclear information. It supports the research and other activities of ANSTO with its collection of monographs, journals, ebooks and databases. While the library isn’t open to the public, its collections are available to other libraries and their users through Libraries Australia’s interlibrary loan service (Libraries Australia Document Delivery).

Within ANSTO Library’s vast array of scientific literature is a unique print collection—including many items not available in any other Australian library. One of these is ‘How to photograph an atomic bomb’ by Peter Kuran, which documents stories of men who photographed US nuclear weapons tests from the 1940s to the 1960s. The book includes over 200 photos, some of which were previously classified.

‘It is a fascinating item,’ says Gerardine. ‘And ANSTO Library has the only listing in Libraries Australia.’

The OPAL research reactor, used for a range of nuclear medicine, research and industrial applications. Image courtesy ANSTO.