Born in Auckland, Karen grew up in the new suburb of Otara and following work with an employment scheme started her library career as a library assistant at Mount Albert Library in 1979. She obtained her library certificate in 1983 and remained with Mount Albert until 1987.
In 1987, she moved to the Central Library as a senior library assistant and worked as a member of Coral Ridling's esteemed Social Sciences Department. It was here that she learned how to use non-New Zealand family history material, a collection which was being built and expanded to recognise the burgeoning interest in that area. This became the area of her specialisation from the early 1990s.
In 1996, she moved to the newly created Auckland Research Centre with family history as one of its key specialties. She worked with others to create a separate shelf identification system for the integrated New Zealand and non New Zealand family history material. In 2000, she achieved her ultimate goal of becoming the Family History librarian and significant changes ensued.
In 2003, she was celebrated for the library's acceptance by the Genealogical Society of Utah's (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) allowing the direct borrowing of their genealogy microfilms.
In 2005, she inaugurated the library's first 'Lock In', with 40 keen researchers taking the opportunity to study in the Auckland Research Centre from 8pm to 8am from Friday evening to Saturday morning. The fifth annual 'Lock In' took place in September of this year.
In 2008, she piloted 'Our Stories' at Avondale College and in 2009 very successfully expanded this to many other schools in the Auckland City area.
All this while she regularly attended family history conferences both here and in Australia, was a regular speaker to family history groups around the greater Auckland area and conducted training classes to expand people's knowledge of our library resources. She also initiated the Central Library's lunchtime talk sessions, along with the 'Telling Your Life Story' workshops.
All remarked on her cheeriness, dedication and passion, which she brought to family history and the collection we have here at Auckland City Libraries. Allison Dobbie, group manager Libraries for Auckland City, said of her, "Karen is highly respected and much loved by her colleagues and by the many customers who value her outstanding skills as a family history librarian. Karen's work extended across many libraries and many community groups and organisations. We will miss her very much indeed. This is indeed a very sad passing."
Karen leaves two sons, two daughters and a grandchild.
Team leader, Auckland Research Centre.
Genealogy Blogging Beat – Friday, 24 March 2017
2 hours ago