Lisa Capps

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 Lisa Capps


1) Tell us a bit about yourself

I have been a Librarian now for 22 years and I can’t imagine doing anything else. My roles have changed from starting out as a junior looseleafer in a law library, being a manager of a law library then as Senior Librarian at the Court Administration Authority (CAA) in Adelaide, a trainer for a global publisher, to out of the blue, a marine librarian!

I am from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK (a Geordie but not from Geordie Shore!) and moved to Australia in 2009. I received Australian Citizenship in February this year.

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

I am the Library & Information Services Coordinator for the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). My role is to manage Information Services which covers the Library, Registry (including Mail), Electronic Document Records Management System (EDRMS) and recently I have taken on a Research Data project which has been given a Commendation by the NAA Digital Excellence Awards 2017. A jack of all trades, which I think Librarians need to be.

I have a team of 5 staff. We are based by the beach and have some of the best views.


3) What led you to a career in LIS?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I left school not knowing and I hadn’t even applied to University. It was my mother who said a librarian was a good job. I applied through clearing to University (telling the lecturer who interviewed me I loved reading – little did I know I wouldn’t be doing much of that!). I had to do work experience and I went to a law firm library and I was hooked. Bit of a cliché but it felt like a calling.


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

Funding is always an issue. Reduced staffing levels.  Public libraries closing, especially in the UK. Making ourselves relevant seems to be the key thing at the moment.


5) Ebooks or Print?

Print all the way


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

Network. It is a really hard thing to do, walking into a room and you don’t know anyone. Networking doesn’t have to be in person but online, through eLists and teleconferences/webinars. Contact local librarians and pop along to a small informal event. I work in Regional Australia and it can be isolating but I make sure I know what is happening and chat to colleagues at every opportunity. Help colleagues out in other organisations and they will return the favour. You have to be open to change, up to  date,  relevant and find out as much as you can within the environment you work and get to know your clients and ensure you can give them assistance before they even know they need it.


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

We file stuff and read all day!


8) Why did you join ALIA?

Firstly, how did I get to Australia? I was sponsored by the State Government of South Australia as a librarian because there was a shortage of librarians in that State. It still makes me laugh that is how I am here. Who would have thought that at the time we were a shortage!

I joined ALIA when I was in the UK not long before I moved to Australia. I was putting the feelers out there and signed up to the eList. A few librarians emailed me as they too were from the UK and I also contacted my Rep from one of the publisher’s we used, to see if he had contacts over here.  All 3 have become lifelong friends.

In my last week of work I was contacted by the PA of a Managing Partner of a small law firm library in Adelaide and she asked me to attend interview when I arrived. She had found my details on the ALIA joblist I had registered with. I landed in Adelaide on the Tuesday, went for interview on the Friday and the following Monday I started work as a contracted librarian to catalogue all the books, bring in online publications, arrange an EDRMS and work on the Intranet. I was given 3 months and completed all tasks. I was then asked to stay on one day a week to maintain the library and I also worked as well as a part time training consultant for a publisher.

If it wasn’t for ALIA, I don’t know where I would be now and can’t thank the Association enough. ALIA do so much for our profession and I would encourage people to join. I left the UK with a husband and 2 small children and $6000.00 to our name. ALIA has helped me achieve the success and varied career I have had, since I made one of the hardest decisions in leaving the UK and I wouldn’t change it for the world.


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

It was whilst working for the CAA at the reference desk and I was asked if I modelled myself on Lady GaGa (I had bleached blonde hair at the time or was it the meat dress I was wearing that day???)


10) What's your dream job?

Well apart from doing what I do now, my dream job would be to have a Bed & Breakfast and provide picnic hampers for clients to take on their days out, whilst running a little cookery school.