Each month, an ALIA member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our Association. So, without further ado, welcome to our Member of the Month for July 2018… ten questions with ALIA Member Alicia Starr.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself
I was born in Griffith, NSW and currently live in Newcastle, NSW. I studied a Diploma of Library and Information Services through Hunter TAFE NSW, which I completed in 2002. I was lucky enough at the end of my course to get a Casual Library Assistant position with Hunter TAFE NSW which became a permanent role in 2009. At the same time, I also began studying a Bachelor of Applied Science (Library and Information Management) though CSU via distance education which I completed in 2011. In 2013 I decided I needed another challenge and began studying a Master of Information Studies (Librarianship) through CSU which I completed in 2014. In 2014 I left my position with Hunter TAFE NSW and began working as the Assistant Librarian (Electronic Services) at Avondale College. I am also secretary of the ALIA Hunter Group. On the non-work side, I live with my husband of nine years, our two cats and a fish. I am an avid reader, love watching romantic comedies and trashy reality tv. I am a Type 1 diabetic, which has made me more focused on my health.
2) What is your current role and some of the responsibilities?
I have been the Assistant Librarian (Electronic Services) at Avondale College at the Lake Macquarie Campus in Cooranbong, NSW for over three years now. It is a Seventh-day Adventist private higher education provider that is currently seeking to gain University College status, so it is an exciting time! I work with an awesome library staff who are passionate about providing a great library service for Avondale staff and students. The main responsibilities of my current role include: Managing the design, content, and development of Avondale’s Institutional Repository – ResearchOnline@Avondale, Liaison librarian for research; Copyright, Assisting in the reporting of College research outputs; Database access for staff and students. I become an ALIA Certified Professional in 2016. I also currently look after Inter-Campus Loans between Avondale’s Lake Macquarie and Sydney campus libraries; Indexing; and distance student requests for library resources.
3) What led you to a career in LIS?
I have always loved to read. I didn’t know what I wanted to do career wise when I left school. I was offered a place in a Social Work course at the Coffs Harbour Education campus but I did not take that up. Afterwards when I saw the TAFE Diploma Library course advertised I thought ‘that is for me’.
4) What are some of the challenges faced by libraries today?
Clients that demand the most up to date technology, a wider range of resources, or more services. Financial pressures, and a demand to do more with less funding. Change resistance in staff, management, or other decision-makers. Competition between advocating for open access, while respecting copyright and adhering to licenses. Balancing competing demands from different stakeholders. Challenges providing basic technology, such as reliable internet access.
5) Ebooks or Print?
In a work context, ebooks where possible simply because space in our campuses is at a premium. Personally? Print books at home, ebooks when travelling.
6) What words of advice would you have for newbie library and information professionals?
Take up any work-related opportunities that come your way. You never know what they may lead to. Attend conferences, workshops and any training you can as the knowledge you gain and the networking you do will prove invaluable in your future career. Become an ALIA member and keep up to date with development in the LIS sector.
7) What is most misunderstood about library and information professionals?
I think what is most misunderstood is what library and information professionals do in their roles. This comes back to the stereotypes that persist: all library and information professionals are introverts, read books, hate any noise above a whisper and wear glasses.
8) Why did you join ALIA and how long have you been a member?
I joined ALIA as a student member whilst completing my Diploma of Library and Information Services through Hunter TAFE NSW to keep up to date with developments in the LIS sector and to make myself aware of relevant networking and training opportunities. I have been an ALIA member since 2002 and Secretary of the ALIA Hunter Group since 2014.
9) What is the most hilarious question you have ever been asked?
One afternoon when working for Hunter TAFE I remember being asked by a student if I could locate a textbook that had a blue coloured cover. I asked them if they could tell me any other details such as the title of the text or the author of the text and was told ‘no’. Looking at the student’s record I realised they were doing a Marketing course. So, I figured it was likely they were after a marketing text and the student confirmed this. The student then said they had been in the library earlier in the morning and had been using the text, so I thought it likely that it might be on the trolley for shelving. I got the student to come and have a look at the shelving trolleys and they managed to find the text they were after. So, it was a good outcome for the student.
10) What's your dream job?
I am probably in it! I certainly never dreamed when I first started working in the LIS sector that I would have the role I currently do. I find it so rewarding being able to assist researchers through the process of reporting their research publications. I would like to be able to network more with others in similar roles. At the moment I am one happy librarian. But you never know what the future holds and what opportunities I might be presented with.