Grant: What do you do at Murdoch?

From the SwanCon XV program book, page 16. Transcribed by Doug. The page-top header says “WHAT HE DOES ON ODD THE OCCASION WHEN HE’S NOT ON A PANEL”. (Yes, it really says “ODD THE”.)

What do you do at Murdoch?

Sounds an innocent enough question – reasonable even, as a conversation opener. But to answer in depth, to cover the variation my current job entails could lead us into pages of description and convoluted explanation that it somehow seems inappropriate to be writing. I would much prefer to tell you about it, in the flesh (so to speak); face to face. How about you buy me a coffee (when I’m not on a panel!) and we can discuss this? As a prompt to conversation then, as the coffee is consumed (the one you just paid for), let me offer the following:

I’m employed as a librarian.
Easy to write but what a wealth of explanation is required here (no conversations about amalgamation, please!). I’m in charge of the Humanities/Education Reference Group. This takes in film studies, literature, theatre, popular culture etc. as well as Education in its myriad forms. I get personally involved in these areas, not only in collection building (including selecting and purchasing the 1,000 videos we have) but in the discourse itself – lecturing occasionally and talking endlessly over coffee (Oops! that just slipped out. Yes, I am rather enjoying this cup).

Probably you would rather hear about the Special Collections area?
I have been involved in this since the beginning, 1974, and now run it as well. It includes Murdoch’s substantial holdings of post-1960’s Australian popular culture and the Australian “Elephant’s Graveyard” of fanzines (No joke. We have the world’s best collection of Australian SF fanzines, indeed one of the all-round best collections after 1965, but that’s another coffee – I mean story).

Did I mention already the comics?
No! Well let me whet your appetite. Not a big one by international standards, the Murdoch collection is split into compilation hardcover works on the open shelves and comicbooks (often in original issue) in the Special Collections stacks. The best run is 2000AD almost complete from 134, with a few issues earlier, including numbers 1 and 2 (Now that’s an interesting story . . . need more coffee?).

The radio shows?
As part of my empire (or should that be rebel alliance?) I do try to keep up with scanning new titles in the field of SF and F (occasionally reading one) to produce the Faster Than Light Radio Show on a weekly basis. The production is done during work time (Murdoch gets the review copies) but the “keeping up with the field” is a truly fannish enterprise. I have a lot of good friends in fandom and value those relationships on a level that has nothing to do with Murdoch. I consume too much TV, videos and film for my health I’m sure (it will get me if the coffee doesn’t) and this bleeds into professional and radio interests (I review regularly on the ABC, SONSHINE and 6UVS). Some of this organisation happens at Murdoch.

I eat lunch.
Normally in the “downstairs ref” (because they have a true cappuccino). I often take lunch late – I prefer the company of friends (staff or students) while eating. Or drinking coffee. Thanks for the cup. We must do this again soon . . . after the next panel? Fine. Make mine white with none, please. Ta!

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