To mark National Library and Information Week, which runs from 17-23 May, we spoke with Sita Austin to learn what’s happening within Flinders University Central Library.
What is your role and what does your work focus on?
I work in the Library’s Resources team, and we manage a range of services including Document Delivery, Acquisitions and Readings. Within this department, my role, along with another colleague, supports the Library Management System (called Alma) and our Discovery Layer (findit@flinders).
I do other work as well but I spend most of my time working with Alma and my role looks at refining the configuration to best meet our operational requirements. Alma is a huge beast and sits behind almost all library operations, covering areas like patron records, loans, ordering print and electronic books, managing subscription and database renewals, managing access to our electronic collections and managing our print collections. We also work closely with other areas of the library, and with our IDS SLT partners – and they manage the technical work that sit outside the Library’s remit.
What journey brought you to this point in your career?
After finishing my undergrad and honours here at Flinders, I moved to Sydney for 10 years, working in various roles for large businesses that I didn’t find very rewarding. Family brought me home to Adelaide and it was a good time for a career rethink. I settled on libraries, did the Information Management Grad Dip at UniSA and, 15 years ago, ended up back at Flinders. I had no idea how complex and interesting libraries were as workplaces when I first started, so it turned out to be a great fit. I’ve never been bored with my work.
What does a normal day look like for you?
The core of my role is to make sure Alma meets our operational requirements and is healthy, so my day involves a mix of planned and unplanned work to address this. It might involve troubleshooting an access issue with one of our electronic resources, or fixing the way a record appears in findit@flinders or Trove, testing and assessing the monthly upgrades for our LMS, or running analytics reports for things like collection analysis.
There is also ongoing project work. At the moment, the big projects are shifting the way we manage database records, making changes to print collections and supporting changes to the processes around lost and missing books. I also make changes to Alma’s configuration to support library operations – and there were lots of these during the COVID-19 shutdowns. For example, we had to put in a three-day quarantine period for print books.
I also spend time preparing for some of our big yearly events, like the fiscal rollover, which always involves a fair amount of clean-up work and preparation.
How do you like to relax or spend your spare time?
Putting aside all the usual family and house stuff, at the moment my partner and I are annoying our families and friends with our never-ending discussion and preparation for a nine-week road trip from Adelaide to Broome. When it became clear that my intended long service leave trip to Italy wasn’t happening, we went straight to the caravanning option – and planning this has kept us entertained for the last year, plus we had to learn to snorkel properly in preparation for visiting Ningaloo Reef.