This month we speak with Tara Dunstone, Librarian/Group Leader at Alexandrina Council.
A "dyed in the wool" young Librarian, she tells us her thoughts about the future of libraries and her passion for Local Government.
Hi Tara, great to speak with you. Can you start by telling us about your current role?
Librarian/ Group Leader at Alexandrina Council. The roles involves the coordination of programs through the lifespan, as well as overseeing some very capable people who organise book groups, volunteers and deliver programs.
Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
I have been in local government since 2005, and moved across from City of Marion in August last year.
In your opinion, how different is a regional council compared to metro, as a place to work?
The biggest differences are the amount different things you get to do in your role within a smaller organisation, and the strong sense of community in a regional area.
What is the most satisfying thing about working for a regional council?
Both of the above. The community down here on the Fleurieu are really amazing – they are very connected and involved. As an example, a lovely man in the community leant me half a dozen of his easels for an art workshop that I coordinated in the Strathalbyn Library, simply because he wanted to help out. We have a large number of passionate volunteers in the library service and two very committed Friends of the Library groups who I have the privilege of working with.
How do you think the role of libraries has changed over the last 10 years?
Libraries are amazing places. If you haven’t been into one in a while drop by your local, and be prepared to be blown away. I have only been working in libraries for 7 or 8 years, but in that time the public library network in South Australia has worked enormously hard to introduce new e-services such as free audio book and e-book borrowing, and OneCard – which is the connecting of all South Australian Public Libraries via their online catalogues – this project, currently at the half-way mark of completion, allows the customer to order books online from all across SA, and borrow and return at any public library.
How do you think they will evolve? What will they look like in 10 year’s time?
Libraries are always going to be about connecting people with information, with technology, and with each other. How this happens in 10 years may look different to now, but expect constant innovation and an ever increasing focus on what the customer wants and needs.
What’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Definitely still in Local Government and in a role working directly with the community. Those of us here know how rewarding it is to help shape our community.
What’s your most embarrassing Local Government moment?
I’m far too honest for my own good, so here goes – I once split my skirt up the back quite significantly as I dashed up some steps in the café of a busy public space. In front of a number of colleagues from different departments who were having a team meeting. Good fun.
How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
Probably reading! The moment I walk out of the workplace in the evening I’m hooking up an audio book through my car radio that I’ve borrowed online with my smartphone during the day. The weekends will be spent walking with my partner around our suburb of Hallett Cove – maybe eating breakfast at the lovely waterfront café there. Or snuggled up in bed with a good book – you can take the girl out of the library, etc. etc.!