Elizabeth MacKenzie has worked in a diverse range of roles at the National Library of Australia over the past 15 years. She tells us about the latest string to her professional bow: NED Support.
Tell us briefly about your career path and your current roles at NLA.
I am very fortunate to end up in my dream job at the National Library as my career path has been largely fortuitous to date! My background is in musicology and I received a Bachelor of Musicology degree with honours from the ANU in 1999 before receiving a graduate diploma in Library and Information Management from Canberra University in 2002. I started work at the National Library part way through the diploma, in the Reader Services section, working with the eResources team, and learned how to be a reference librarian by working in the reading rooms and answering online enquiries.
I worked with the Music and Dance Branch when it existed as a separate entity, and watched the launch of MusicAustralia, now part of Trove. I was manager of the Main Reading Room at the library before being involved with the Reading Room Integration project in 2014-15, which saw several reading rooms streamlined into two service points, which was a wonderful introduction to internal collaboration and change management. At the completion of that project, I was fortunate to have the experience of acting as Council Secretary for 18 months. This position worked closely with the Council and Corporate Management of the library and I learned a lot about governance, the structure of the library, and a broader context of the sector in which we work. I have been the convenor of the eResources Consortium for about 18 months, and worked as NED Support for about the last twelve.
What does it mean to be NED Support?
NED Support is the first port of call for NED member libraries. Enquiries can range from, ‘I have a publisher who deposited a serial as a mono’ (this is very common), to ‘how are we going to manage the changing names of government publishers?’. It has also required substantial detective work and a lot of help from colleagues, as my cataloguing skills leave a lot to be desired! It has been very rewarding to move from the ‘everything is new’ feeling, to the ‘oh yes, I’ve seen this before’ feeling, to the feeling of something approaching business-as-usual.
What has been most challenging about getting NED up and running?
Realising the enormity of the service, and the interconnectivity of the various systems of nine member libraries has meant that there can be far reaching implications for just about everything we do. We thought we understood the system in isolation – but when we started involving the human element of the publishers we realised there were more things that could go wrong than we had originally thought!
What has been the most rewarding part of the NED project?
Definitely working across the NSLA libraries with clever, dedicated and visionary people is inspiring. The degree of collaboration required can’t be overestimated, I think NED is far too large to fit into a single brain. We’ve all also had to learn something new and we all understand what it feels like to feel overwhelmed at times and we all understand when we haven’t done something we said we would by the time we said we’d do it. It’s been a humbling experience to work on a world-first project with organisations willing to work together towards the greater good.
What do you think NED will look like in the next 10 years?
It could be very different! We have some very exciting ideas such as incorporating AV material, broadening the functionality for publishers to include different file types and more flexibility when depositing serials and maps. The way content is displayed in Trove could change and it would be amazing be able to link up serials so that users are able to view a complete run, regardless of the route the serial used to arrive in the service.
What has been the most unusual deposit you’ve seen in NED so far?
There’s been so many! I love that there is a newsletter for apparently everything under the sun, from the Pig Competition Prize Schedule from the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia, to Dark Rumours (from the Workshop Camera Club in WA) to the Eremophila Study Group newsletter (NSW). I’m also intrigued by The Acclimatisers Toast by Mason Chamberlin from LakeBank Art&Music Stawell publishers.