:: Dialogue with a Librarian Series ::

My collegues inspire me everyday

Roxanne Missingham, University Librarian and Chief Scholarly Information Officer of Australian National University (ANU). Responsible for ANU libraries, archives, press, records, privacy, copyright and digital scholarship.

Librarians are an integral part of campus life, be it online or offline. They are both the gatekeepers and signposts to knowledge and their presence is even more important now in this current situation. In our “Dialogue with a Librarian” series, we are privileged to feature librarians across Asia Pacific, giving you a peek into their work and life through a Q&A format.

Featuring Roxanne Missingham, University Librarian and Chief Scholarly Information Officer of Australian National University (ANU). She is responsible for ANU libraries, archives, press, records, privacy, copyright and digital scholarship. She was previously Parliamentary Librarian and Assistant Director-General, Resource Sharing Division, National Library of Australia. She has a long career in libraries and IT focused on the development of digital delivery and digital services. Formerly, President of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), she is currently a copyright lead for the Council of Australian University Librarians and a member of many national and international digital research library committees.


What made you choose being a librarian as your career?

At the time I began studying librarianship I had a Degree in Science and no particular thoughts about careers, although my mother always says that in primary school I wanted to be a librarian. It interested me as it combined concepts of building collections and creating better communities.

What continues to drive you to be a librarian today?

I love the fact that we are building knowledge repositories and through making that knowledge accessible.  The library community is amazing – my colleagues inspire me every day.  We are a very committed bunch who make a real difference in all our communities. The difference that we make to communities, education, and research is a marvellous demonstration of the power that we bring and share.

What do you find most challenging about being a librarian?

As a group, we have extraordinary skills and imagination. The assumption that “everything is online” and “magic” brings the extraordinary range of collections to our clients is a major challenge.  It is vital that we advocate to our clients and funders the value we bring and unpack the work carried out across all sectors by libraries.

What’s the most memorable thing you had being a librarian?

When the National Library of Australia had the fabulous Treasures from the world’s great libraries exhibition we volunteered to assist during the extended hours. In the end, it opened 23 hours a day to accommodate the need. I remember one elderly gentleman at the end of shift (around 6am) was complaining as he needed to travel to North Canberra’s distant suburbs and it was a time of few buses and taxis. I drove him home while the sun was rising – a glorious morning with magpies carolling in the background.

What is a common misconception of a librarian that you want to change and how do you feel about it?

That information appears on their desktop without the hard work of fantastic staff.

What do you want to see in the future managing libraries?

A deep commitment to continuing and reimagining libraries and their activities in the digital environment.

What skills do you think librarians/aspiring librarians need to have to continue in this profession?

Negotiation and communication skills together with a desire for adventure.

If you can go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Enjoy every moment.

If you have a magic wand, and you can change anything you want, what would you want to change in the library?

I would encourage all to take compassion and joy into every day of their work.

What are 3 words that your colleagues will use to describe you?

Enthusiastic, committed, imaginative

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