Kendall Kousek

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 December 2017… ten questions with ALIA Member Kendall Kousek.

1) Tell us a bit about yourself

I am originally from the Gold Coast where I worked at Bond University Library, in the institutional repository team and for the university press, but I now work at Macquarie University Library in Sydney. I love to travel and lived in the UK for two years (working in the libraries at the LSE and the London Business School) and visited many cities in Europe. I even visited a few libraries, with the Central Public Library in Amsterdam being a standout. This year I visited St Petersburg and was awed by the city’s architecture and artwork.

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

I am a Discovery Services and Systems Librarian, which I think is the best job in the library. I get to work with almost everyone in the library and there is a new challenge every day. I work in a team who are responsible for understanding how our resources are acquired, managed, made discoverable and fulfilled, and ensuring these processes work. A lot of my tasks involve troubleshooting or mapping out new workflows. I am currently managing the pilot of a new system so this involves learning how the system works, configuring it to suit our library’s workflows, training library staff and ensuring we have documented everything. As it is a client-facing system I am also involved in partnering with the faculties to roll the system out to them. This is a new aspect to my role so I am learning a lot but I am enjoying the new opportunity.

3) What led you to a career in LIS?

I originally studied to be a teacher, with the intention of becoming a teacher-librarian. While doing my Master of Learning Innovation (Teacher-Librarianship) through QUT, I found that a lot of my classmates were practising librarians, usually solely responsible for running a school library. Deciding that I needed some hands-on experience before running a library on my own, I found a job in an academic library and haven’t looked back.

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

Ensuring librarians have the skill sets required for involvement in the opportunities that advances in technology will provide, as well as harnessing opportunities for using the skill sets our profession already have. I recently attended a conference where the keynote speaker, Corey Harper from Elsevier Labs, was discussing algorithmic literacy and its importance for librarians. It is important we understand what algorithms and activities are going on in the back end of systems to give us our results. Also discussed was how we as a profession can apply the skills we already are strong in to machine learning. Data aggregation, collection and curation all lend themselves to machine learning and librarians can apply their expertise to aid in the development of models used to structure machine learning.

5) Ebooks or Print?

Ebooks. I had to leave my book collection behind when I moved overseas and I quickly became accustomed to reading books electronically. Now I prefer the ease of borrowing library books without having to leave my house.

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

Explore the profession as there are many different aspects to working in a library and each role you have will teach you something new about libraries that will help you later in your career. Celebrate your achievements! Be curious and ask questions. And make connections as there are so many knowledgeable people in this profession.

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

That being a librarian is a profession. A lot of people I talk to outside of the profession think the only requirement for being a librarian is liking books. People get confused when I tell them I don’t read books at work. One thing I didn’t realise straight away is how collaborative librarians are. I am very often discussing and solving common issues with colleagues from around the world. The community of librarians that I engage with make my role so much more fulfilling.

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

I joined ALIA as a student nine years ago. I was curious about the different aspects of librarianship and wanted to make connections with like-minded professionals. Attending Students and New Grads events helped me network and gain an understanding of the broad spectrum of librarian roles.

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

I once had a student place a request in a university library I worked at for us to purchase the next season of ‘House’ as they needed it to assist them with their medical studies. I was a bit concerned that a future doctor thought they could learn about medicine from a TV series rather than the range of specialised resources the library already provided.

10) What's your dream job?

Keeping my current role but being able to do it from anywhere in the world would be nice.