Jane Black

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 Jane Black AALIA

1) Tell us a bit about yourself

I work as a librarian at Geoscience Australia(GA) in Canberra and have been employed in libraries for 11 years. After graduating with degrees in teaching & librarianship I’ve worked as a teacher and then as a librarian in school, public, academic and specialist government libraries in Australia and the UK. Along the way I’ve completed a degree in Archives & Records from Edith Cowan Uni and am just about to embark on a Master of Information Studies (Data Management) from CSU.

When I’m not working (or studying!) I enjoy going to the gym, listening to live music and travelling.

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

I currently work as the Information Service Librarian at Geoscience Australia. Our library is
Australia’s national dedicated geoscience library, and as well as providing support to the scientists in our building we are open to the public. My role is to help people use the library to meet their information needs. My duties include looking after reference enquiries, training, exhibitions, the library twitter account, library intranet, and representing the library on our organisation’s Information Governance Committee.

Recently I have been managing the digitisation and crowdsourced transcription of almost 90 Antarctic geological field notebooks to improve their access and discoverability. It’s been a wonderful experience to partner with volunteers around Australia, the original authors of the notebooks, the Australian Museum’s DigiVol team and GA’s Antarctic Geoscience team to bring new life to these unique items.


3) What led you to a career in LIS?

I enjoy helping people and learning new things, so I was looking for a career that would combine both aspects. In my last few years of high school I had a job at my local public library as a shelver which gave me an insight into libraries, and growing up with a parent who was a teacher, I also knew what schools were like. At the end of high school I couldn’t decide between being a teacher or a librarian, so decided to combine both and became a teacher librarian!


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

Communicating our ongoing relevance in the digital age is a central challenge faced by many libraries. As information professionals we’re well aware that there’s more need now than ever for libraries and information services, yet there can still be a perception outside libraries that everything is available online for free and libraries are obsolete.


5) Ebooks or Print?

I think there’s a role for both in libraries. At work I prefer using ebooks and online resources as it makes it easier for our clients to search and find specific information within a resource. The flexibility of multiple users and the ability to work from any device and location is also a bonus. At home, I can’t go past the tactile sensation of a printed book. It brings back memories of shared reading as a child.


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

Be open to opportunities as they arise. Network not only with other information professionals, but also with colleagues within your wider organisation. Also never stop learning new skills and continuing to grow professionally. Joining ALIA’s Certified Professional formal PD scheme is a great way to do this by staying up-to-date with the latest news and trends and finding out about upcoming courses and conferences.


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

Many people still seem surprised that you need a university degree rather than just a love of reading to be qualified as a librarian!


8) Why did you join ALIA?

I was encouraged to join by my then manager Annette McGuinness who has been very active in ALIA, especially in the URLs group. It was great advice as I’ve learnt so much over the past 8 years of my membership.


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

 “Are the dinosaurs real?” This was asked by a cute young visitor when he saw the model dinosaurs on display in our library’s garden.


10) What's your dream job?

I’d love to be a librarian at Mawson Station in Antarctica and experience life on the ice firsthand. Although there are libraries on Antarctic stations, unfortunately they are unstaffed, so this will have to remain a dream job!