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Women in the library executive

March 4, 2020

Meet the women in our Library Executive

International Women’s Day is coming up this Sunday 8 March. The theme for 2020 is #EachForEqual, encouraging everyone to do their part to push for equality and fight back against gender bias.

Deakin Library joins the rest of the University in supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, one of which is Gender Equality. One of the ways we do this is by ensuring women are actively involved in decision-making at the highest levels.

Today, we’re featuring interviews with three of the women in our Library Executive – the equivalent of the library’s C-suite. Read their discussion on how they came to their careers, why they joined Deakin Library and what makes women uniquely valuable in leadership positions.

Clare Carlsson profile

Clare Carlsson, Director, Client Services

Clare has been the Deputy University Librarian and Director Client Services at Deakin University for the last three and a half years. She has more than 70 staff and oversees all campus libraries. She also has responsibility for the Research and Liaison Services offered by the library. During her career, she has gained extensive experience in both the higher education and public sectors. She has more than 15 years of experience working in senior management for university libraries including Monash, Swinburne and James Cook. Her experience also includes managing special libraries covering the fields of medicine, health sciences, architecture, disability services and economics – as well as several public libraries including Wollongong Public Library and Whitehorse Manningham.

Kathryn Hore profile

Kathryn Hore, Manager, Information & Records Services

Kathryn is Deakin’s Information Manager and leads the Information & Records Services (IRS) unit, the team responsible for the University’s information governance and records management, and Deakin’s historical archives. She comes from a broad background with experience in several information fields – from libraries to records to archives – across several sectors including corporate, government and higher education. Outside of work, she’s got a couple of kids, helps her partner take photos of weddings, and writes a bit – all of which keeps her pretty busy.

Jane Miller profile

Jane Miller, Director, Digital Libraries and Repositories

Jane has had a diverse career in academic libraries with roles including Liaison and Faculty Librarian, Digital Services Librarian, and Library Systems and Discovery Coordinator. She has worked at Victoria University, The University of Melbourne and in her current position at Deakin University where she is Director, Digital Libraries and Repositories. Jane’s interests include leveraging systems and technology to enhance client and staff library experiences, as well as discoverability and access. Jane has certifications in Prince2 and Prince2-Agile project management methodologies and has undertaken a number of system procurement, implementation and web usability projects as well as reviews of system operating environments.

1. What made you decide to pursue a career in an academic library?

Clare: I spent the early part of my career working mainly in public libraries before branching out into special libraries. The opportunities there were fantastic: I worked for two architect firms, two hospital libraries, Westpac in their economic library and Yooralla Society in their Disability Services Library. When we moved to Cairns in Queensland, I then had the opportunity to work for James Cook University. From then on, I just loved the university environment. I love the energy and the inquiring nature of students and researchers. It is fabulous to be part of this process of awakening, where new knowledge can be created which hopefully lead to a better society.

Kathryn: After completing my bachelor degree, I literally flipped a coin to choose between postgraduate study in librarianship or journalism – and libraries won. While studying for my library qualifications, I also undertook records and archives qualifications. In my career, I’ve jumped across multiple sectors and information fields, starting in corporate knowledge management and working through business research, information management, special libraries and more. When I decided I wanted to shift into information management in higher education, I found myself in a research data management role within an academic library. And instantly fell in love. For me, the value and purpose of higher education align with my own values, and the integral role the academic library plays in the delivery of education and pursuit of research is why I love working in this space.

Jane: I’d love to claim that it was by design, but it was sort of a fluke. I was sitting in one of the last classes of my Bachelor of Arts wondering what was next for me. I remember it was a lecture on Shakespeare and for some reason during that lecture, the idea of librarianship popped into my head. No idea why. I didn’t want to commit to studying again so soon until I’d had a chance to work in a library. Over the next few months, I applied for a lot of jobs and finally got a maternity leave fill-in role at Victoria University. I really enjoyed working on the circulation and reference desks, so I enrolled in the Graduate Diploma of Information Management at the University of Melbourne and haven’t left academic libraries since.

2. What drew you to Deakin Library in particular?

Clare: I worked at Deakin years ago when we first moved to Melbourne and really enjoyed my position and the people I worked with. I then moved to Swinburne to take up a more senior position and after that, to Monash. When the opportunity to be Deputy University Librarian and Director, Client Services came up, I just jumped at the chance to be part of Deakin again. Deakin has such a positive vibe; people are friendly and engaged. We act like a small university – while our student numbers make us one of the 10 largest universities in Australia, we don’t let that get in the way of making sure each one has a great experience. We are dynamic and nimble, and I just love that.

Kathryn: My role at Deakin is reasonably unique in the records and information world, as it combines multiple information fields – records, archives and libraries. As I have experience with, interest in and a great love for each of these disciplines – and for exploring the synergies and relationships between them – I was particularly drawn to this role at Deakin. Ultimately, while the different disciplines might work with different types of information, or to different end goals and purposes, we are all trying to ensure the right information is available to the right people at the right time. I was also drawn to Deakin Library and IRS because Deakin has a reputation for enabling a strong and supported information management culture, and for taking records and archives seriously. In my almost two years of working here, I’ve happily found this to be true.

Jane: Deakin University has an excellent reputation for both innovation and quality student experience. I have worked a long time in technology-related areas of libraries, and one of my main preoccupations is the way systems can enable and add value to services. Everything I’d heard and experienced regarding Deakin Library over the years suggested to me that it would be a great fit in terms of what I value and enjoy about working in an academic library. When the role was advertised, it matched my skill set and presented a really great opportunity to stretch myself, continue to learn and take another step in my career.

3. How would you summarise your role in two sentences?

Clare: I am people-focused. If library staff, students, academics and other professional areas get the best experience possible and understand that the library is highly professional and strongly motivated, I have achieved what I have hoped for.

Kathryn: As Information Manager, I am responsible for leading IRS to enable Deakin to manage its records and business information in a manner which both meets legal obligations and increases staff efficiency; and to preserve Deakin’s cultural heritage and documented history for the future.

Jane: I lead the team responsible for providing efficient, innovative, high-quality, user-centric library systems that contribute to Deakin’s ability to achieve its strategic goals in relation to learning, teaching and research. I am also responsible for facilitating and enabling the work and wellbeing of the staff within my portfolio.

4. What career did you see yourself in when you were ten years old?

Clare: I think I wanted to have a career on stage ­– and of course be a dancer and a singer. I guess being fairly tuneless would have held me back, so I looked for other things.

Kathryn: Honestly, I’d probably have said I wanted to be a psychiatrist: a goal which lasted only about as long as it took me to figure out that meant getting a medical degree. As a life-long fainter at the sight of blood, that was never going to happen. At that age, I wouldn’t even have known what records management was. However, at ten I was cataloguing my own books, and a couple of years later I was building custom databases to manage my comic book collection. I have always been interested in the ways information is shared and used and managed. So, I think I’ve ended up in the right career.

Jane: I loved Agatha Christie novels (still do really) and I believe I thought I was going to be a detective in a small, crime-infested English village.

5. Why do you think it’s important for women to be in executive positions like yours?

Clare: There are so many terrific role models out there to emulate. I guess I was dissatisfied with sitting on the beach and watching the guys surf (please forgive my Puberty Blues reference). It is my time now and I intend to make the most of it. I have different skills to bring to leadership teams. As long as I am aiming for excellence, staying fully engaged, striving for kindness and – most importantly – having some fun then yes, it is important to stand up and be counted. I’m happy to join in the process and be part of making Deakin – and, in fact, Australia – a better place.

Kathryn: It’s important that women in leadership are visible and that everyone feels able to build a career and reach executive positions, regardless of their gender. Inclusivity and equity in leadership is essential for fostering a creative and innovative workplace, as diverse teams can combine the full range of the collective capabilities, viewpoints, experiences and skills of everyone contributing. This is true at all levels, but for it to be a genuine part of the culture of a workplace, it needs to be demonstrated and actively led by the leadership and executive teams.

Jane: In my position, I think it’s important because the role is heavily oriented to information technology and systems. While this is no doubt changing, IT is generally still an area where relatively few women are in senior management roles compared to the number of men. I think part of this is because IT has traditionally attracted a larger cohort of male students. It certainly wasn’t in my original plans; I started with an Arts degree, moved into librarianship and after working for a while, deciding to do further study in information systems. I absolutely love working with technology, building my knowledge and collaborating with people to achieve positive outcomes. Technology is as fundamental to contemporary library services as books. This will continue to be the case, and it would be great to see even more women and librarians take on roles in the technical space.

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