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When in doubt, go to the library

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24th May, 2024

Did you know that NSW Health Pathol­o­gy’s Foren­sic & Ana­lyt­i­cal Sci­ence Ser­vice (FASS) has a library and a librar­i­an avail­able to assist with research, access­ing pub­li­ca­tions and track­ing down hard-to-find journals?

Mar­garet Gillies has worked as a librar­i­an in the NSW Health sys­tem for 21 years, work­ing in Mul­ti­cul­tur­al Health, Auburn Hos­pi­tal, the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal and West­mead Hos­pi­tal. She now divides her work­ing week between the West­mead library and FASS.

“I start­ed at FASS in 2007 when there was an actu­al phys­i­cal library with books and paper copies of jour­nals,” Mar­garet said.

“There had been a long gap between librar­i­ans, and I could­n’t find any cat­a­logu­ing records. So, I re-cat­a­logued every­thing to the Nation­al Library of Med­i­cine cat­a­logue standards.

“Now I work most­ly online, with just a small selec­tion of books and paper jour­nals along with his­tor­i­cal reports that I’ve man­aged to keep and store here at the Lid­combe office. Peo­ple can get in touch with me via the FASS Library link on the NSW Health Pathol­o­gy intranet.

“When I first start­ed at FASS, I had a gen­tle­man come in and say ‘You won’t be able to help me, no one has ever been able to help me’. But I man­aged to con­vince him to give me a try.

“It turned out he want­ed to sub­mit an arti­cle for a jour­nal, and dif­fer­ent jour­nals have dif­fer­ent rules around sub­mis­sions, so I helped him with that. I proof-read his work because Eng­lish was not his first lan­guage and sub­mit­ted the arti­cle. We became good friends, over the years and he end­ed up using the library quite a lot.”

A magazine stand filled with science journals.
The library still pro­vides hard copies of some jour­nals for FASS staff.

The library assists with research and infor­ma­tion require­ments to FASS staff at all 5 FASS loca­tions. These include access to:

  • A vari­ety of databases
  • Library Cat­a­logue CIAP
  • Inter-library loans / Doc­u­ment delivery
  • Research assistance/enquiries
  • Stan­dards
  • Train­ing
  • Copy­right advice
  • Pur­chas­ing

The library cat­a­logue is a list­ing of all items held by FASS as well as the libraries in West­ern Syd­ney Local Health Dis­trict, Nepean Blue Moun­tains Local Health Dis­trict and the Children’s Hos­pi­tal Westmead.

Mar­garet says the library has both a sci­ence and med­ical focus, so is par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful for FASS staff.

Mar­garet uses many search plat­forms such as MyA­thens (that is avail­able to all FASS staff) to locate pub­li­ca­tions and she has a lot of con­tacts with­in dif­fer­ent libraries to track items down.

“I once tracked down a jour­nal in an African vil­lage. The man who wrote it was so hap­py I had found his work,” she said.

Mar­garet pro­duces a reg­u­lar library update, giv­ing an overview of the ser­vices available.

“A lot of peo­ple do not under­stand how much more the library can assist them in fur­ther­ing their exper­tise and pro­vid­ing use­ful infor­ma­tion for their research. If any­one in FASS wants to fol­low up on a par­tic­u­lar top­ic or ser­vice, they can get in touch with me.”

A woman reaches into a cupboard for a book
A small col­lec­tion of his­tor­i­cal reports and jour­nals remain in Margaret’s office at Lidcombe.



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