by Nora Martin, Australia and New Zealand Chapter, Leadership & Management Division
In May 2007 I began employment as the inaugural Library Manager at the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). AUSTRAC is Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulator and specialist financial intelligence unit (FIU). My major contribution included the establishment and maintenance of an online library and the implementation of a new library and research centre service.
I attended the 11th Aurora Leadership Institute in February 2008 as a result of being awarded the inaugural AGLIN Scholarship. Subsequently I served on the AGLIN Executive Board from 2008-9. AGLIN is an independent organization established to coordinate Australian Federal government libraries. The Aurora Leadership Institute assists future leaders in the library and information sector to maximise their skills and potential. This was also an opportunity to spend time with and learn from leaders in the library profession.
My participation as an AGLIN Executive Board member for 2008-9 gave me an insight into how an executive board operates and was a valuable learning experience. I would describe the benefits of participating at the Institute as increased self awareness and learning about the difference between leadership and management, especially the importance of leading from within.
Aurora increased my confidence to such a degree that I applied for and obtained a 9-month reassignment within AUSTRAC as Senior Analyst within the Strategic Analysis Unit. This role included conducting detailed research to provide internal and external stakeholders with proactive intelligence on money laundering and terrorism financing typologies, trends and vulnerabilities. This reassignment turned out to be a wonderful opportunity for professional development, leading to an increased understanding of the information needs and requirements of our Intelligence business unit. Another benefit was that this knowledge greatly assisted me upon return to my substantive capacity as Library Manager in early 2009.
Information professionals have exceptional research and analytical skills, often not recognised by the intelligence community. These skillsets are very transferable and it’s a positive sign that increasingly government agencies are strategic in their approach to the exercise of professional development within human resource management. Governments worldwide continue to deal with the threat of terrorism and organised crime plus work together to combat global threats, such as those concerning the environment and climate change. As a result, the need for the services of government information professionals has increased in recent years. The need for current information and qualified information and knowledge services staff cannot be underestimated. The challenge is to reinforce this message to key stakeholders within government agencies, to prove our value and become indispensible.
In July 2009 (due to operational requirements) I was permanently reassigned to the position of Senior Analyst within the AUSTRAC Operational Intelligence branch. My responsibilities included the evaluation and dissemination of Suspect Matter Reports to domestic and international partner agencies. Concurrently at this time I took on a mentor role and trained another information services colleague in library procedures. My mentee demonstrated her commitment to the library profession by taking on the responsibility of maintaining a streamlined library service in addition to her normal duties.
Whilst enjoying the challenge of working in the intelligence field, library work remains and is my passion! Late last year I obtained a promotion to an executive leadership role at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Library. Our ATO eLibrary model is linked to the 2011 SLA Annual Conference sub-theme “using knowledge sharing to encourage collaboration.” The library team is placing a particular emphasis on web 2.0 and emerging web 3.0 services, demonstrating a capacity to innovate and develop new information products and services to meet an identified need.
The moral of the story is to think outside the square in terms of professional development opportunities. Often a break from “traditional” library work will reenergise and reinvigorate you leading to other exciting opportunities down the track!
After working in a public library as a paraprofessional for over twenty years, Nora Martin completed her degree in 2005 and is now Assistant Director, Library & Information Services at the Australian Taxation Office. In 2009 Nora was the recipient of the SLA Diversity Leadership Development (DLDP) award and International Travel award. She previously worked as Library Manager at AUSTRAC, Australia’s anti-money laundering regulator and specialist financial intelligence unit. Prior to this time, Nora was employed as a Research Librarian at Fairfax Media, providing high-quality research and information services to journalists, working on local print publications and helping journalists from various interstate and overseas bureaus.