An American librarian in Sydney

flags.jpg from Mugofevil via flickr CC

The International Librarians Network is proud to bring you ….. some international librarians. To whet your appetite for the possibilities of international networking, we will be bringing you a series of postcards from guest bloggers around the world. Kicking off this series is Eamon Smallwood. Eamon works at the University of New South Wales Library in Sydney and moved here from Colorado, USA to take up the job last year.

The differences in food, idioms and particularly Sydney’s temperamental weather have all been a bit perplexing for Eamon and not quite what he expected. Here it is in his own words:

The other day in our library work-pod we had a quick stretch and chat session. Library work necessitates frequent stretching, and not because we are doing the heavy lifting of book organization and distribution. If fact we were discussing this very misconception.

In Australia, America, and I am sure the world over, when you mention to friends, family or the ice cream man that you are a librarian, you are often met with, “Oh that must be nice working with books all day.” To which I often just smile and nod. If only they knew the horrifying truth, COMPUTERS HAVE EATEN OUR BOOKS. The world is not ready for this news so we carry on until a time we can reveal it without causing mass hysteria. Computers, the harsh taskmasters that they are, require frequent stretching sessions to appease their cold desires and facilitate some measure of cooperation. The upside is this time has allowed me to pick up on some helpful Australian customs, slang, weather signals, and food items.


Laksa: I thought my pod mates were saying “Luxor” and I was like, dang those sound like some regal noodles.

Bickie: Upping the cuteness factor of “cookie” to the max.

Long Black: Coffee.

Arvo: Something to do with time.

Sydney weather: Blue skies and sunny everyday just like you imagine! [yeah right]

Shout: Instead of saying “Let me buy you a beer.” Try “I’ll shout you a beer.” Very nice.

Cotton-on: Upping the cuteness factor of “catching-on” to the max.

Adding an O to words that don’t end in O: Convenient and funo!

The hot wind weather phenomena: This is just crazy, it’s like a convection oven in the sky.

Vegemite on banana bread: Why Australians are really good at sports.

Mexican food in Australia: Por que?

Stretch posing: Just really cool.

Gas Bagging: Rambling on without any real objective or conclusion. Yep. Check. Noted.

I have to thank three lovely pod buddies for this helpful info. If you are looking into becoming an international librarian of mystery I do recommend finding a good set of pod mates. This will ease and aid in the transition period. Just to be clear, pod mates are different from pod people. It is an important distinction, pod mates = friendly v. pod people = brain-scrubbing. Hmmm… then again brain-scrubbing does sound invigorating.

As one of Eamon’s ‘pod buddies’ I can tell you we’ve had a great time inducting him into the peculiarities of Australian idioms (and have commiserated with him over the weather many times). I have also enjoyed the different perspective that having an international librarian in our midst has brought and he is helping me see my own city through fresh eyes as he gets out and discovers things I either didn’t know existed or have just taken for granted. It works both ways!

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  1. Pingback: Discussion topic: Moving for a job | International Librarians Network

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