Rain, hail or shine

Galina Brejneva and Lily Gao, National Meteorological Library

Multitasking: it’s often the name of the game when it comes to working in special libraries.

That’s certainly the case at the National Meteorological Library in Melbourne. Its diverse collection encompasses everything from weather observation records, journals and books, to rare items such as synoptic maps, nineteenth-century handwritten weather observations … even an early work on winds, published in 1648! The work of its librarians—Lily Gao and Galina Brejneva—is equally diverse. They’re the two-person team responsible for keeping the library service wheels on: rain, hail or shine.

Weekend looking good for a barbeque? Need to get the car under cover before a hailstorm hits? From weather prediction and climate research to public education, staff at the Bureau of Meteorology use a plethora of resources from the collection to do their job. And it’s up to Galina and Lily to ensure they can get hold of the e-journals, ebooks, databases and print materials they need.

Galina and Lily also provide access to the collection to federal and state government departments, universities and meteorological agencies overseas. Between them, a typical week can encompass everything from cataloguing and interlibrary loan processing to promoting the library’s services and training users to find the information they’re looking for.

Having both cataloguing and IT skills, Galina says, is especially useful when working in a library which uses an open-source library management system. The National Meteorological Library uses Koha: an open-source, web-based LMS. For a librarian in a special library, Galina observes, cataloguing plus IT skills is a ‘winning combination’.


Left to right: Lily Gao, Research Librarian at the National Meteorological Library; a collection of mid-nineteenth-century daily weather maps—one of the library’s rare items; Galina Brejneva, Technical Services Librarian, in the Rare Book Room. Images courtesy of the Bureau of Meteorology.