Romany Manuell is a subject librarian for Art, Design and Architecture at Monash University and PhD candidate at Charles Sturt University.
Can you tell readers about your journey into librarianship and any career highlights you’ve had along the way?
Like many people, I really didn’t know what I was going to do after my Arts degree. So, I did a Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary Teaching) and went overseas to work as a relief teacher – but I ended up in other jobs instead. I travelled and worked in England, Japan and Canada for five years before deciding to study Information Management at RMIT University in 2008. It was an excellent decision!
This is my tenth year of librarianship! But I still feel like a newbie. I started as a shelver at RMIT Library, and have since worked as a Librarian at Holmesglen (TAFE), Deakin University, and now, I’m at Monash University as Subject Librarian for Art, Design and Architecture. One amazing highlight was working in a school library in Vanuatu in 2009. It was crazy fun, but I can’t imagine living in a hut without power and water again!
Every day is an adventure, no matter what library I’m working in because I’m always learning things from people who use the library. You can probably tell I’m still in love with my career. And I still love books (all kinds)!
What skills or attributes do you draw on in your role as a subject librarian on a daily basis?
I use communication skills daily to deliver classes, consult with researchers, and make sure we have the resources we need to support teaching and learning. I draw on my curiosity daily too… and it leads me to pounce upon the new book boxes at 11am! I love to see all the new books that have come in.
Can you tell readers a bit about your PhD topic and why you decided to pursue further research?
My PhD topic is an exploration of Australian academic librarians’ understandings of their role in education and training. I was a teacher before I became a librarian, and I didn’t expect the jobs to be similar at all. I think I’ve been quite shocked by the education and training duties required in many of the positions I’ve had. I began the PhD to deal with my own understandings of “teaching” in libraries. I’m also very curious about how other people feel about it. I’m almost ready to begin interviewing other academic librarians in Victoria.
What advice would you like to give library students and new professionals?
Someone recently asked me about studying librarianship. They were worried because they had heard it was “very competitive” in terms of jobs. I replied, “What industry isn’t at the moment?”
Yes, depending on the kind of job you want, finding and keeping employment can be difficult, but it’s also incredibly worthwhile because we get to make a difference in people’s lives! Plus, we get to share in the community of information management professionals of which ALIA is a big part. My advice is: come and join us!