You know Superman’s dad – well his name isn’t Caval it’s Jor-El but I think I can be forgiven for mixing up the two – they sound similar.  So coming off the high of thinking I was going somewhere Supermanish, I was brought rapidly back to earth.  Phonetics, folks, is where it ended.


Today I embarked on a long and treacherous trip in ‘Big Red’ – this is my car, which desperately needs looking at, because I swear it sounds like a cow giving birth … sideways.  But only when I turn the steering wheel.  So it was a long, long drive – an hour and twenty minutes, mooing across town, straining up dale and down valley (Burke Rd hill etc).  I arrived in the wilds of Bundoora desperately needing refreshment in different forms, but I arrived.  Big Red in the carpark recovering from the ordeal.

CAVAL is a truly interesting place, staffed with interesting and passionate people.  It is rare to find people who are ‘pumped’ at the notion of providing MARC 21 records for LOTE texts and staff who become noticeably excited when talking about climate controlled storage facilities for last copy (weeded) University/TAFE texts – but at CAVAL they exist.  All 3 of them.  I am sure there are more, who fist bump each other as they sit down and accession 87 current fiction texts straight off the plane from Xianjin in dialectal Mandarin but I unfortunately didn’t meet them – just saw their very tidy desks.

I was struck at how diverse library provision is.  Who knew that this place existed or that there even was a need for such a company in the first place?  It’s like a company who makes the tiny plastic thingos that go on the end of your shoe laces, an ‘aglet’ if you were wondering.  Who came up with this necessary item?  But once you see it, you understand it’s vital place in the world.  Frayed laces?  Fixed.  Lots of old books or journals choking up university libraries?  Why not a storage facility that puts them into vast shelving space and makes sure they are tickety-boo for 200 + years?  Yes!

Oh and while we’re at it, they catalogue them so if someone needs a copy of what they’ve got you can get it, but even better – if you have a copy that you want to ditch and they have it – you can!  The Carm centre I suspect makes university librarians feel exactly that – calm.  The service would reassure even the most fool-hardy, weed-happy, book-tossing, resource-rationalising librarian not to worry – it’s damage control on an industrial scale, literally.  Merrily flung the last copy of Mein Kampf in Hindi?  Don’t worry – Carm probably has it.

After all that heady excitement, drunk (metaphorically alas) with the discoveries made, I  returned home – I went via Ringwood – a small error due to the GPS and intense inner contemplation of maximum shelf density for stored journals from Melbourne University circa 1989.

Eastlink was lovely this afternoon in twinkling sunshine.  Sunshine that all those resources will never see or feel in their climatically restricted, snap locked housie.  I do hope the staff get out and walk around though.  Vitamin D chaps.  It’s important but not for old books or journals.

Rock on CAVAL.


About kblaich

I live in Melbourne, Australia, have one lovely husband, one delightful daughter, one bouncy son, lots of pets (2 dogs and 3 cats) and work at a primary school part time. I am currently studying my Masters in Teacher Librarianship through Charles Sturt University.
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