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 October 2017… ten questions with ALIA Member, James Wilson.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m 39 and married with two kids; two boys aged 6 and 3. I’m a latecomer to libraries having only been working in them for the last year. I previously worked in the retail industry and I love working at the University of South Australia (UniSA) as I have a much better work-life balance. It means I get to spend more time with the family and that is what I enjoy most of all. I am a fantasy/sci-fi tragic and try and read where I can, though mostly these days it’s reading for study. I am also one of the co-conveners for the SA Students and new Graduates Group (SNGG).
2) What is your current role and some of the responsibilities?
My current role is as a Graduate Library Officer at the University of South Australia. What is fantastic about this role is that I get to rotate through different departments. So far I have rotated through acquisitions, repository services and through two different academic library teams. Our University has 4 metro and 2 regional campuses with 5 libraries in total. Each campus has different schools and it’s great to rotate through the different academic teams to gain familiarity with the different subject areas.
3) What led you to a career in LIS?
Early 2016 I was made redundant. I had been working in retail management roles for about twenty years prior to this. I had just finished my undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Management with a major in HR) and I was looking for work and for some further study. It took me almost 6 months to find a job but when the UniSA role came up I knew it was something that I wanted to do. I also have been inspired by my wife, who is also a Librarian, to work in the LIS.
4) What are some of the challenges faced by libraries today?
For me the challenges revolve around access to information and how the various generations of library users prefer to access information. It is around educating and teaching people reference skills so that when they are looking for information they can make informed decisions about the information they find. It also includes being innovative and not falling behind it how users want to access information.
5) Ebooks or Print?
Both. I collect books and I love having the print copy there on my bookshelf. If I do get the chance to sit down and read I prefer reading the print copy of the novel. However, when I am studying I much prefer ebooks. UniSA has a large electronic collection and I find that this is a better way to find resources for my assignments. I work full time and I am an external student, so being able to access resources late at night and from home is vital to my study. Both of my kids have bookshelves in their rooms. They love reading and looking at the pictures in the books. I love having the print copy to show them especially if it’s a book I had when I was a kid.
6) What words of advice would you have for newbie library and information professionals?
The most important advice I have for newbie library and information professionals is to be involved. To me that means keeping up with your professional development (PD). Whether this is PD you do through ALIA or something you create in your own workplace and make sure that you put yourself out there and see what everyone else is doing too. Having recently attended NLS8 in Canberra this year I loved being involved and meeting new librarians from around the country. There are also plenty of events happening in each of the states and the groups are always looking for people to be involved.
7) What is most misunderstood about library and information professionals?
I think there is a big misunderstanding about what we do. I’m sure everyone has had someone mention to them that they must love working in a library because they get to read all the books and I used to get the same comments when I worked in a bookstore. We need to be advocates for our profession and educate people on what we do. Recently I had a conversation with an academic from another University. I was talking about how I was making our academics’ publications visible through our Institutional repository. To which he replied 'Oh, so that’s who does it'. He didn’t realise that it was the library staff doing that work in the background. I am part of the Library’s social media team and our focus is to promote all the services we have to offer
8) Why did you join ALIA and how long have you been a member?
I joined ALIA after I started at UniSA and I am coming up to a year now. I joined to find out information about the library sector and to keep up to date with what is going on in our industry.
9) What is the most hilarious question you have ever been asked?
I haven’t really had any hilarious questions yet. I’m sure I will get one at some stage. I do get a lot of questions or more requests for filling up the stapler. The students love to staple things.
10) What's your dream job?
I’m still finding my feet but I feel that for the moment it is working in an Academic Team. I love the different tasks that I get to do but I also love the interaction with staff and students. I have always loved customer service and I love being able to educate the students on our services and how we can assist them in their studies. I find that very rewarding.