5THE FM’s Rebekah Lowe chats with Manager of WR Libraries Janice Nitschke
by S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow
Manager of Wattle Range Libraries, Janice Nitschke, recipient of the Member of the Order of Australia has put the national spotlight on Millicent and she spoke with Rebekah Lowe on 5 THE FM about the Award, her work in Libraries which spans 45 years, and working in her home town of Millicent.
“This morning we are speaking with Janice Nitschke, Manager of Wattle Range Libraries to find out about her work but the most important thing we want to talk to her about the tremendous honour she received in recently being awarded the Member of the Order of Australia,” said Rebekah.
“Australia Day on Sunday 26TH January gives us the opportunity to celebrate this amazing country of Australia and just as importantly, honour some of our amazing people and among those recognised this year is Janice Nitschke
“How did you find out about the award Janice?”
“I received a letter in November 2013 telling me I had been nominated, asking me if I would accept the award. I thought about it long and hard. I am just a normal country person doing what I enjoy doing and serving the community at the same time,” she said.
“On Christmas Eve I learned that I had received the award but I was asked not to tell anyone.”
“I told my husband Greg and he was so proud and happy.”
“I told my immediate family just last weekend because they had been on this long journey with me, there is no I in team and I could not have done this without the ongoing love and support of my family.”
“I have worked full time, spent every Monday at work, many late nights at meetings and working late; so I was not there with them a lot of the time.”
“I could not have done it without the support of wonderful staff. Some came as trainees and are still with me. The volunteers over the years have been wonderful too and provided much support.”
Rebekah asked Janice how things had changed since the announcement.
“I have had endless phone calls, texts and emails from the community and the State including members of the LGA and interstate from colleagues.”
“It is not just about me, it is wonderful for the Wattle Range Community to be recognised and the good services provided to the community.”
“When I travelled it wasn’t about the travel it was about learning about new systems and bringing them back to our state and our community.”
“Janice it takes an individual to lead a team though and you did this,” said Rebekah. “Tell us about your work which by the way spans 45 years; a massive contribution.”
“I worked in the library to begin with and it was a job but it wasn’t long before the passion took over and has remained with me to this day,” said Janice.
“In order to manage the library I had to be qualified and I studied for 8 years.”
“Forty years ago in about 1982/3 Ron East rang me and said, regional libraries are not getting a fair go and asked me to represent them and I have ever since.”
“I had a full time job, two children, we were running a farm and I was studying, so it was a lot of work but we did it.”
“The Keith Hockridge Memorial Scholarship (1986) gave me the opportunity to go Texas for 6 weeks, and the time spent there opened my eyes and I was able to bring back so much information. I encouraged the Libraries Board to implement the internet and we became the first and only State in Australia to have free internet access for our communities.”
“Winning these awards was not about the travel but about what I could bring back.”
“When the amalgamation of Council took place – this network connected all of the council.”
“Our members could borrow books anywhere in the State.”
“We went on to implement E Books and the one card system and on line journals.”
“This positively impacts our economic development, our young people can go to University in Mt Gambier, but they have their resources here in our local library for their study and don’t have to travel away – they have online access.”
“We have to continually be looking at ways we can benefit our community.”
“We have the library, but we also have the local history section, hold meetings there, we have the Gallery; it is a unique facility.’
“Ten years ago when I first came to Millicent I went into the library to check my email and the staff were so friendly and helpful that I am sure that helped us make the decision to move here, “ Rebekah said. “I just thought it was a wonderful facility.”
“What is it that keeps you motivated,” Rebekah asked Janice.
“It is an opportunity to grow partnerships, work with the community, meet people and provide another space for people. They have home and many have a work space but the library is the third space they can belong and I like providing that, “Janice said.
“When Mark Braes was Mayor and Frank Brennan was CEO, I won the Inaurgural Crawford Award for innovation and I enjoyed that a great deal too; the experience, the innovation and working with many local governments. I have had many opportunities.”
“I have been fortunate – Des Ross Chairman of Libraries Board always encouraged me, gave me power to achieve.”
“Des Ross and I were on the committee with the LGA State Government that negotiated a funding agreement with the State Government. We had many an argument and debate and we initially achieved a five year agreement which was renewed a further five years and now another ten. This provides sustainability for libraries with secure funding.”
“MOU funding provided South Australia with secure funding, the only state in Australia to do so.”
Ms Nitschke has won a long list of awards during her career and held many board positions. In 1986 The Hockeridge Scholarship and travelled to Texas, 1986 -1984 President of PLSA Representing Country Libraries, Libraries Board LGA 1989, started the first Mobile Library service in the State and received a grant to do this from the CMV, 1996 The ALIA Merit Awards, 2002 The Crawford Inaurgural Crawford Award, 2005 The Churchill Fellowship and The LGA Service Awards for 25 years of service.
“The new Library was opened in 1992, and in 1997 we implemented the Library network.”
Ms Nitschke said she had had wonderful mentors in Jim Crawford, Des Ross, and Wendy Compana. Peers in Anne and Ian Short shared, listened and advised me when I needed it, and also Vanessa Little who I still sit on the National Committee with.
“When I spoke in RIO Argentina and Norway, it was on the International stage and they of course were 10 years ahead of us, we still had some initiatives though, but through this we could catch up and this pioneering has been able to influence the whole state.”
“Why did you stay here in Millicent, you must have had opportunity to move away?” Rebekah asked.
“Yes I did, I could have worked in the State Library, but Millicent is my home, this is my community here and just because we live in Millicent, it doesn’t mean we can’t have the best there is and that’s what I wanted for my community. My family are on Boards and contribute to community organisations. I made the choice to stay and have been rewarded through my community and now my families.”
I have met and worked with many talented and innovative people across the state and also nationally. I am indebted to them for sharing their expertise and knowledge with me. Communication, partnership and sharing underpins my work. Many are now treasured family friends.”
“I have enjoyed the work I did in Tourism over the years and have watched that grow too.”
The Library will host Local History Meeting with John Drew as the first speaker on 3rd Tuesday in February, author Michael Robothan noted Australian crime writer will be a guest at the Library on February 19th at 10-00 pm.
“We have the best of both worlds here, half way between Adelaide and Melbourne, it is easy to access people and materials.”
Ms Nitschke said she was proud and humbled at this recognition, realising that this award is not given lightly and wanted to use this opportunity to thank those who had nominated her.
“Congratulations Janice, as a community we are all proud of your work and your achievements which has been recognised with this prestigious award -thankyou,” said Rebekah.
Editors note: The announcement of Ms Nitschke’s Award brought the following responses to 5THE FM/wattlerangenow, from local community members.
Former CEO Frank Brennan said,” I whole heartedly congratulate Janice on this award, it is well-deserved, and she has given a long term commitment to public libraries across the state of SA and of course in Millicent and the whole Wattle Range Region.”
Jan Richards Manager Central West Libraries said, ” What a day to celebrate the awarding of an AM to our own Janice Nitschke. A very well deserved honour. Well done lovely friend.
Tony Stacey said, “It is fantastic, I have known Janice for many years and worked with her on many projects, she has done a fantastic job, has shown a passion for her community, and put in a remarkable effort. I am excited about this award and the fact that her work has been recognised in this way.”
Wendy Campana (LGA) Local Government Association said, “It is wonderful recognition of a woman in local government who has put in a tremendous effort to libraries across the state both personally and professionally. I am so proud to celebrate this award with her and am so pleased to have this opportunity to publicly acknowledge and congratulate her.”
Ms Nitschke’s birthday is also on Australia Day and celebrated with staff this week.
Recipient of the Member of Order of Australia Medal Janice Nitschke is wished a happy birthday by Library Staff.