Member Q&A - Chantalle Smith


Each month we talk to a PSA Youth member and find out about their work and passions.

If you want to be involved in this feature let us know at psay@psa.org.nz

Chantalle SmithChantalle Smith, Librarian, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington

What were you initial thoughts on signing up to do this Q&A?

Sure, why not?! I love talking about myself.

What is your job and what do you do on an average day at work?

I’m a librarian at the Alexander Turnbull Library, which is a part of the Department of Internal Affairs. My day consists of helping clients who visit the library with their research. This means that I give them research skills and tips, help them with researching, and also I show them how to access the vast collections held by the library.

I also answer enquiries from people who cannot visit the library. These come in via email, our website and phone. These can be anything from telling them how to order a copy of an image from the library to doing some in depth research (but within reason) on a particular question they may have.

What was a highlight at work for you in the past month?

The National Library has just celebrated its 50th birthday, so it has been fun joining in on those celebrations. However I also love taking the tours of the Reading Room for groups who visit us. One of the tours I love giving is the Induction tour for all new staff at DIA. It is fun getting people interested in wanting to visit us… You’ll be amazed what you can find in our collections.
 
What would you say is the hardest thing about your job?

One thing I find difficult is when you can’t find the piece of information a client is looking for. Even when you know you have tried everything within your power, it is hard to say to someone that you can’t help them. It does make me happy though when I have told a client to try another information repository and they say they found what they were looking for there!
 
What do you enjoy about being a part of PSA and PSA Youth, and what brought you to join?

I love the people I have met through the PSA and PSAY. But I also love how confident the union has made me about speaking out on issues I feel passionate about. If I hadn’t of gotten involved in the union I don’t think I would have ever written to the select committee in regards to the 26 weeks paid parental bill. Now just waiting for the phone call for my chance to speak to the select committee!
 
What is your vision for young members of the PSA?

To be more active! We are the future, and it is awesome to see what has been done in the past in the workplace because of unions. It is up to us to keep the momentum going, and then eventually a new lot of young people can be just as enthusiastic as us to keep the union movement going.
 
How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

Like any good librarian, I love to read. But I also love playing video games, watching movies and I am just slightly addicted to Candy Crush Saga (my partner may disagree with the slightly part).
 
What cause would get you out on the streets protesting and why?

Well a recent one that got me out was the equal pay picnic on Parliament grounds. It is about time that “women’s” work was valued. A couple of times at events I have spoken to MPs about this issue too. I am constantly wearing a badge and the wristband from the PSA’s Worth 100% campaign. I like to wear the t-shirt at times too. I find wearing these is a great way to start a conversation about the topic.
 
Which three figures from past or present would you invite to your place for dinner, and why?

Michael King (the NZ historian) because I would love to pick his brain about his research into Pākehā and Māori relations. Tom Hanks mostly because I love his movies. I’m also sure he would be a laugh to have at the table.

I keep trying to choose an author that I would love to pick their brain but it’s too hard, there are too many that I love. So I will just have to have a separate party for all my favourite authors and choose someone else! So I think my third choice would be Tim Burton. It would be intriguing to try and figure out how he comes up with his movies.
 
What are your three pet peeves?

  • People who swerve side to side while walk slowly (or in large groups) on the footpath.
  • When I get interrupted while reading a good book!
  • Knuckle cracking.

What advice would you give your 16 year old self?

Don’t worry if things don’t turn out the way you thought they would at the time. You never know what will happen in the future.
 
Anything else you would like to add?

I love showing this video to everyone. Us delegates show it at the induction day for new employees at DIA and we always get a great reaction. You should check it out too!