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 2017… ten questions with ALIA Member Anna Rubinowski.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself
I currently live in Melbourne, but I am originally from Germany. My family emigrated from Poland a couple of years before I was born and I actually spoke Polish before I learned German. I think having grown up bilingual and frequently travelling to Poland and all over during Europe in my childhood has given me a lifelong interest in languages and a serious case of wanderlust. Luckily my parents are the same, seeing that their only daughter is living on the other end of the world! We try to meet up at least once a year during a holiday, which is always fun.
2) What is your current role and some of the responsibilities?
I am currently the Ada Booth Librarian, which is the title of the Slavic Studies Subject Librarian at Monash University. In this role my main responsibility is collection development and management of our Slavic language collections as well as promoting these collections to the university community and the broader public. The position is fascinating as it is a special collections role in an academic library, giving me a variety of additional responsibilities stretching from teaching and traditional reference, to developing elearning resources, research data management, exhibitions, scholarly communication, digitisation projects, and so much more. I am also the Convenor of the ALIA Students and New Graduates Group, which means I manage our group of 30 committee members who form our regional groups and social media teams, as well as our National Resume Review Service and Job Help Site. My role as convenor is to liaise with ALIA House and ALIA NGAC (New Generation Advisory Committee) and come up with strategies and policies and guidelines. But it is the team on the ground that is putting things into action. So here is a shout-out to these amazing people who are all volunteering their time and are doing such a fantastic job!
3) What led you to a career in LIS?
I have worked as tutor, fundraiser, office admin, marketing assistant, personal assistant, and in car rentals and sales. At one point I decided that this was definitely not the way to move forward, so I decided to go back to what I was really passionate about, and fell into a career in LIS. Australia felt like a good choice as most LIS degrees in Germany are still on a bachelor level (although that is slowly changing) and I liked the practical nature of the degree offered by RMIT. And I am proud to say that it was the original idea of doing ‘something’ with books which might have led me in this direction, but I am staying in this profession because of the diversity and range within the GLAMR profession that is so much more than ‘just’ books. Maybe more importantly, I stayed for the amazing and inspiring people I have met who have mentored and supported me, and the people that I was able to mentor and support and work together with in return.
4) What are some of the challenges faced by libraries today?
I have seen and experienced some amazing transformations and innovations within the GLAMR sector, but it always appears to me that no matter how great libraries are in reinventing themselves, they are not great in promoting it to those outside the GLAMR sector. I also wish that there could be more ongoing opportunities for early career librarians – getting that first foot in seems to be getting harder and harder.
5) Ebooks or Print?
Both! I tend to do most of my reading on my mobile, but if I really want to treat myself, I always go back to print. There is nothing quite like holding a book in your hand and loosing yourself in the story, and I do own all of my favourite books in print.
6) What words of advice would you have for newbie library and information professionals?
Well, as Convenor for the ALIA Students and New Graduates Group my first answer will have to be to come to our events and network, and if you want to get some volunteer experience to join our group! But otherwise my main advice would be to be persistent and to keep going. Being an early career librarian can be hard, and getting that first ongoing position is difficult. Don’t get discouraged! Growing your network and honing your skills is essential, and make yourself familiar with new trends such as augmented and virtual reality or digital humanities.
7) What is most misunderstood about library and information professionals?
Two things come to mind: librarians have the answer to everything (no, we just know how to find information to help YOU find the answer); and yes, we still have books, but that’s only a small part of what we do.
8) Why did you join ALIA and how long have you been a member?
I joined ALIA about four years ago as a student member because I wanted to grow my network, and about one and a half years ago I became the convenor of the ALIA Students and New Graduates Group because I wanted to give back to the profession the same kind of welcome and support that I got as a student.
9) What is the most hilarious question you have ever been asked?
Less a question and more a comment that I am sure we’re all familiar with – the well-known ‘oh, you’re a librarian? You must really enjoy reading books all day!’
10) What's your dream job?
If I couldn’t be a librarian anymore I would probably become a professional landscape photographer.