Leadership opportunities at Trinity’s libraryJohn Blois
As the Library Services Manager, Mrs Courtney Nolan-McLeod sees the far-reaching impact of the library throughout the School and has seen how much the library has to offer to students and staff alike.
Her role has evolved over the years, thanks to the versatility of library services at the School and Trinity’s focus on innovation and opportunity when it comes to people and culture.
After completing a Diploma of Library and Information Services in 2014, Courtney was ready to dive in but unlike many people in the course who already worked in libraries and were looking to upskill, she didn’t have hands-on experience. While she searched for a stable position, she did temp work and picked up shifts at cafes.
Fortunately, one of her fellow students had done placement at Trinity and was part of a team that former Director of Library Services, Ms Stefanie Gaspari, had put together to innovate library services at Trinity.
Soon enough, a door opened in early 2015. A Teacher Librarian at the Preparatory School Library was on maternity leave, so in collaboration with a new teaching graduate who had temporarily taken on the position, Courtney was able to fill in the gaps and shape her new role.
“I had one day of handover and then I just hit the ground running,” she recalls. “We had a bit of free reign. We were young – under 24 – but we had the push and the drive to make the library our own.
“From that very first step, I only had a qualification on my back and very little experience in the industry – although I did have a decade in Customer Service, so I had the background to make the library a really welcoming place. The School was incredibly supportive.
“They said ‘You’re excited, you’ve recently graduated so you know the newest ideas in Library Services – show us what you can do.’ By the end of that year, we had a Teacher Librarian but over my time in Prep we did have periods of transition between Teacher Librarians and throughout all of that I was given a lot of opportunity to have my voice heard and offered a lot of respect as a library expert.”
These kinds of opportunities have been emblematic of Courtney’s time at Trinity – regardless of which campus she is based on – and she always relishes the chance to prove herself and get a taste of new responsibilities, seeing her roles transform as she does so.
At the end of 2019, there was space to create a new role within Trinity’s library system – Library Manager. Part of the early discussions of what the role would entail, Courtney knew she wanted to give it a go. So, she asked what she would need to do in terms of learning and growth, in order to succeed in the role. Once the position was advertised, she threw her hat in the ring and was successful.
“I started in May 2020 – right after that first wave of COVID-19. It was a big learning experience and the library wasn’t really functioning at capacity. But it did give me an opportunity to ease a little more slowly into the role because we weren’t going at full speed. I already knew everyone and worked well with the team across all campuses, so it made things a lot easier, rather than taking a similar role externally.”
While she took on this role, she completed her Certificate IV of Leadership and Management navigating the world of online study, then in-person learning, and then back online again – all while traversing the same ups and downs with the library staff.
Most recently, in 2022, Courtney has taken on a new role as Library Services Manager, a role borne out of Stefanie Gaspari’s decision to step away from the education sphere. Her role as Director of Library Services was divided up between Courtney and Vicki Courtenay (Head Teaching and Learning Librarian).
“Stef was brought in to revolutionise libraries at Trinity. So, now that the revolution – so to speak – was done, there was scope to spread out those leadership opportunities.”
Now, Courtney has leadership of support staff, systems, services and spaces across all of Trinity’s libraries, the key management personnel for everything that isn’t teaching-centric.
“It’s a role that translates really well to the post-Trinity sphere, because it involves managing different branches, managing a large number of staff, space bookings, dealing with stakeholders and more – I’m really excited about that,” Courtney says. “It’s a five-term trial, so we’ll have an opportunity at the end of 2023 to evaluate and see how it’s worked. It gives us the opportunity to sink our teeth into the role in the meantime.”
However her role evolves, Courtney is pleased that she has so many opportunities to interact with students – and through so many different initiatives, including as the Coordinator of Study Plus and as the supervisor for Arthur’s Readers, an initiative she’s particularly proud of students for creating.
“When I moved to the Senior and Middle School, there was a small group of students who were meeting as a book club. When I joined them, they expressed that they were keen to make it a Co-curricular,” she says. “I asked around about the requirements of making a brand new Co curricular and I brought all of those requirements to the students. I worked with them but they created the whole Co curricular programme themselves, and I passed it onto the powers that be with my approval. That group became Arthur’s Readers. We now have about 20 students.
“It’s not a traditional book club. We never tell them what to read, they’re not all reading the same book at the same time – they’re in classes where they’re already doing that – instead, it’s an open space for them to share their passion, and talk excitedly (and sometimes argue!) about books.”
Despite Courtney’s role looking markedly different from the one she started at Trinity with, nearly a decade ago, she knows that the core of what she loves about her work is still thriving.
“I got into libraries because I never wanted to specialise. Even at school I did a bit of everything. Being a librarian is that fantastic jack of all trades.
“The Library is so central to the School that we really have connections to everyone – ICT, Archives, teaching staff – we have wonderful departments all over the School and we get to work with everyone.”
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