Librarians in the Field : Wayne Lam


Librarians in the Field : Wayne Lam

The “Librarians in the Field” series introduces us to library professionals in diverse fields. Librarians answer questions about their work and the profession– all in their own words!

Wayne Lam, Systems Librarian at Pao Yue-Kong Library, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Why did you become a librarian?

I had been working as a campus IT staff for a rather long time. In around 2007 to 2008, I had an opportunity to work on library projects and I got to work with librarians. This is how I started to realise how much I love to be in the library!

What also interested me in librarianship was the blending of the oldest and the most cutting-edge technology all in the same place. By working in the library, you have the opportunity to see, touch and work on other librarians’ or creators’ works. These works could have been created a decade before your birth. At the same time, you could have the opportunity to work on cutting-edge technology projects involving AI, NLP and big data, etc. This is the reason why I became a librarian.

Describe a typical or average day at your job.

One of my most typical responsibilities is to investigate and go deep on the system level and figure out the root cause of an issue. The issue could range from a student being unable to access articles to a total system failure. 

Another daily task is to talk to users, either staff or students, to build up applications for them! The applications could be as simple as a website all the way to a complex system.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of it would be to understand on a deep level how things work behind the scenes, and to have an understanding on different aspects of the library workflow. 

Can you share the most memorable moment in your career as a librarian?

I do remember how scared I was to press a button on an upgrade on an old ILS. You never know what will happen. The consequences could be that the library opens but no books can be borrowed or no users can enter the library for days!

What is the most important trend we will see in the next 5 years in academic libraries?

I expect:

  1. libraries to take a more vital role in the research process at the university.
  2. libraries to promote maker culture and facilitate innovation in the university.
  3. libraries to support open culture (e.g. MOOC, OER) to help the university enhance their social impact.
  4. more close collaboration in all aspects between academic libraries.

What is one thing you want other librarians to know about academic libraries?

The people are fun, and you can have a coffee shop in the library!