Chantay Mallett

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 September 2018… ten questions with ALIA Member Chantay Mallett.

1) Tell us a bit about yourself

I am passionate about learning, reading and language. I mostly read junior fiction and young adult because I don’t like to recommend a book unless I have read it, and I tend to make recommendations for children. However, I have joined a book club which is encouraging me to branch out into other areas. In addition to English, I know a little Japanese and can have a basic conversation in Auslan (Australian sign language). I really enjoy learning languages and about how language is acquired. Some other things I love include animals, origami and dancing!

2) What is your current role and some of the responsibilities?

As Literacy Development Officer I develop, implement and deliver programs and events. I also partner with other library staff to assist in their own program delivery, both internally and externally to my workplace. I visit schools, childcare centres and other services or community groups and give presentations about libraries as well as run activities. I talk to community members and staff about literacy and learning, advising them where possible. The job varies every day and I eagerly enjoy taking on new challenges and trying out new ideas.

3) What led you to a career in LIS?

Following high school I still hadn’t decided which career I wished to pursue. Quite a few people had told me they thought I would be good at teaching, so I started studying a Bachelor of Education (Primary). From my practicums I realised that there are numerous children out there who struggle with reading, many who were dangerously below the average level. This is where I discovered my passion. I wanted to be able to help children access the world of reading and in turn, learning. After graduating I enrolled into a Master of Education specialising in literacy. I quickly learnt that the critical time for the development of literacy skills is between 0-3 years of age. I realised targeting this age group is where I might be able to have the most influence on literacy skills. Once I started working in public libraries as Literacy Development Officer I knew I had found the right path for my career. This was a new role that no one had held previously. When asking young people what career they see themselves doing, I like to remind myself that when I was in high school my position didn’t even exist! I am now studying a Graduate Diploma in Information and Library Studies and am excited by the future of libraries.

4) What are some of the challenges faced by libraries today?

I think one of the biggest challenges is breaking down stereotypes. I regularly get asked ‘aren’t libraries supposed to be quiet?’ or hear statements like ‘wow you have DVDs!’. So many people don’t seem to be aware of all the amazing programs and events libraries are offering in addition to collections that are more than physical books. Once I start talking to people about everything they can access, they tend to be surprised and excited about all the opportunities available to them.   

5) Ebooks or Print?

Definitely both! Both have benefits depending on the situation. If there is something I want to read while travelling or in bed at night I perfect an ebook. I can easily take multiple books on one lightweight device and access additional books from anywhere in the world. I also like to be able to access night mode functions instead of reading by lamplight. If I am quite busy I tend to listen to audio books. I can listen while driving, walking or doing chores. Plus, I think it’s nice to be read to no matter how old you get. But I still enjoy being able to hold and read a physical book. Particularly if it’s quite complicated and I want to flick back and forth between pages to help make sense of the story.

6) What words of advice would you have for newbie library and information professionals?

Be open to trying new things and to all the ideas of what a library can be. Not only can you connect people to information through print materials but also through the world of online resources as well as through participation in learning experiences. Never stop learning yourself and have fun along the way!

7) What is most misunderstood about library and information professionals?

I have generally found that when I tell people I work in a library they don’t ask me any questions about what I do. I think this is because they assume I spend most of my time putting books away or answering reference questions. This comes back to breaking down those stereotypes. People don’t seem to realise the large range of positions available for library and information staff.

8) Why did you join ALIA and how long have you been a member?

I greatly value professional development and providing best-practise services. Being a member of ALIA will only aid in that endeavour. I joined as a student in 2017 when I started studying the Graduate Diploma in Information and Library Studies. I was recently able to update my membership to Allied Field and look forward to seeing what further opportunities this provides.

9) What is the most hilarious question you have ever been asked?

I am sure there have been plenty of funny questions, especially working with children, but I honestly can’t think of any! Something that is amusing though; there is a Smartblade return shelf in our library and people are regularly surprised that the shelf knows the titles of the books they are returning, staff have been known to be asked if the library runs on magic now!

10) What's your dream job?

I love the job I have now. But, I am most passionate about early literacy development, so I could see myself moving into a role that is more focused on young children rather than the whole community.