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 March 2018… ten questions with ALIA Member Ness Fryer.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself
I completed a Graduate Diploma of Information and Library Studies at the end of 2016. While still studying I was fortunate to get a position at the State Library of WA as a Library Officer. Since graduating, I've been an active member of the ALIA West Committee and thrown myself into the ALIA PD Scheme (what can I say, I'm a sucker for learning). I also started up the Ask and Answer PD Club, an informal social club for library folk to gather and chat about professional development and explore a library related 'topic of the month'.
2) What is your current role and some of the responsibilities?
My days currently consists of Storytime, Storytime, and more Storytime as I'm on maternity leave with my beautiful new baby boy. The role I'll return to is a Library Officer at the State Library. I'm in the Client Services team so those days are spent helping anyone and everyone who comes into the library find what they need. Whether it's a book, help with printing, finding a place to study, or do some research, I can help. I also am lucky to occasionally put together and run Storytime sessions which is my absolute favourite part of the job.
3) What led you to a career in LIS?
I've always loved creating and sharing stories. In between writing fiction as a hobby, I worked as a media producer creating educational media for health professionals. Being able to combine the two things I really love, sharing stories and helping people learn, meant becoming a librarian was a no brainer.
4) What are some of the challenges faced by libraries today?
This is such a hard question. One challenge is that libraries (focusing on the public sector here) are competing with so many other forms of entertainment it can be hard to lure people through the doors and showcase what is on offer. There's also the challenge of finding the people who would benefit from your services, but aren't yet aware of them... and you can't find them to tell them about what you can do because they're not coming into any of your circles of marketing or word-of-mouth.
5) Ebooks or Print?
Both! There is no wrong way to read. I love the convenience of ebooks, especially when I'm reading a series and can download the next one right away. I also love the relaxation of being curled up with a physical book, the cover art, and the satisfaction I feel looking at my stuffed-to-the-brim bookcase.
6) What words of advice would you have for newbie library and information professionals?
I'm new to the profession myself and one thing I've found helpful is to make the effort to go to ALIA, or other library, events and meet other people in the profession. It's really easy to get stuck into the routine of your day to day work or studies but one way to help you stay passionate and freshly inspired is to seek out the people who are doing fun stuff and join in. You might not know where your passion in Library Land lies yet, but by being aware of what other people are doing and what they care about is one way to find out what strikes gold for you.
7) What is most misunderstood about library and information professionals?
As a student I found a lot of people seem surprised that you had to get a degree to be a librarian. I'm sure a lot of people still equate libraries with their first experience of them, either in a public library setting or at school and because they've received an 'invisible service' (show up, get books, job done, hooray) they don't quite see all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.
8) Why did you join ALIA and how long have you been a member?
I've been a member for 2 years. I joined as a student because it seemed like a good way to meet other people and get informed about what is going on across the sector. Studying online can be isolating if you don't make an effort, so I wanted to make sure I did as much as I could to be connected with the profession.
9) What is the most hilarious question you have ever been asked?
It wasn't a question exactly, but the funniest thing that happened was a client approached me to report that she had lost her phone charger. I gave her a slip of paper and asked her to describe it for me and write down her contact details while I opened up the lost property sheet to record the details. When she handed me back the paper, instead ofwriting the make and model of the charger, she had drawn a little picture of it. We both had a little giggle about that.
10) What's your dream job?
I want to work with kids, whether in a public or school library setting. I want to share my love of stories and learning with young people and create fun programs for families and their little ones.