Hannah Gellard

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 2017 … ten questions with ALIA Member Hannah Gellard


1) Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a Graduate Library Officer, nicknamed a “GLO”, at the University of South Australia (UniSA) Library. I’m due to complete my Graduate Diploma of Information Management (Library and Information Management) at UniSA in mid-2018 and I have a Bachelor of Social Science from the University of Adelaide. I’m new to the library industry so I don’t have years of experience – although I did do my year 10 work experience at my primary school’s library on Kangaroo Island!

Outside of LIS, I try my hand at a bit of pottery (with rather poor results) and love travelling/exploring. On the weekend you’ll find me in op shops, driving through the Adelaide Hills, camping or sitting in a cafe.


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

Being a GLO, I’m rotating through all the different areas of the UniSA library – I’ve worked in one of the academic teams, archives, business processes and I’m currently in metadata trying to wrap my head around cataloguing. There is no such thing as an average day for me, I might start the day doing some copy cataloguing, then post on our Instagram account, call winners of our competitions or staff one of our pop-up Library booths. I have around a year and a half as a GLO to go so my acquisitions, repository services and portfolio rotations are all still to come. 

My role is unique – there are only two of us in the university – and it’s amazing to have the opportunity to experience all different roles while I’m studying. I’m encouraged to participate in as much as possible so outside of my regular tasks, I am part of two working groups that cover the Library’s social media accounts and orientation preparation/coordination.


3) What led you to a career in LIS?

I like to organise, help others and have a keen interest in history & preservation so it seemed like a good choice for me. Working in LIS has so far allowed me to link people with information and share my love for reading and communication. I had a childhood of Hairy Maclary and Harry Potter so connecting people to learning and stories is really important to me.


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

There are huge amounts of information available and it can be overwhelming – teaching people critical thinking skills in this type of environment can be challenging, along with how to connect people in such a busy world.

Libraries also need to be able to respond to technology innovation and keep up with trends in how people want to access and use information, alongside what services they require from their libraries. Library users are a diverse bunch of people – so how can we ensure that libraries cater for everyone?


5) Ebooks or Print?

I say we have both! I live in a really small house and need all the shelf space I can get so it’s handy being able to buy ebooks and not have to worry about where I’m going to store them. From a university perspective, ebooks are essentially immediate and with multi-user licences available for some texts, more than one person can use the same book at once.  However… The social/sharing aspect of print books always gets me – I’m a sucker for a hand-written note in the front cover of a book and spend a lot of time crafting birthday messages in books for my niece and nephew. 


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

Get amongst it. Go to events, research what professional associations are available in your city and look for opportunities everywhere. I live in Adelaide so networking is really important – plus meeting new people opens your eyes to what types of jobs are available in the library and information industry and can help you to better understand what direction you might like to go in.


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

Probably that we all sit behind a high desk and tell people to be quiet all the time! The roles of library and information professionals are varied and constantly evolving to meet the needs of their communities. We come in all different shapes and sizes and are a mix of everything - bookworms and techheads, focussed and lateral thinkers, detail worshippers and visionaries, questioners and problem solvers, quiet-achievers and big personalities (plus more!).


8) Why did you join ALIA?

Some friends and colleagues recommended it as a good opportunity to ask questions and learn from others and so far it’s been really fantastic. I joined ALIA last December and went to a Leadership and Innovation Forum in February – it was amazing. I met people from various LIS branches who were working in jobs that I didn’t know existed.