Susan has had a varied career. She originally studied social work, then managed bookshops before completing her library qualifications and managing a small corporate design and architecture library. In 1992 she discovered academic libraries and found her passion. While Susan claims ‘front of house’ is not her forte ("never trust my answer to a reference question"), she gets huge satisfaction in setting up the technical, resources and physical infrastructures needed to meet user needs and expectations.
Susan gets bored doing the same thing for too long, and will always look for new challenges and ways to innovate. She embraces and adopts other people’s ideas, being careful to always give credit where it is due; to acknowledge the talent and contribution of those around her. This has been critical to her success, building trust and engagement. Her favourite one liner when asked about her role in a project was ‘my role is to take the credit’, making it clear the credit belongs to others.
Susan is all about the customer. One of her first achievements in academic libraries was reviewing vendor services for monographs. She changed vendors and improved delivery time from overseas by 7 weeks. She went on to introduce an early proxy server service at UTS based on UK’s Athens system to provide 24/7 access to resources.
At UNSW she managed the transformation of the main library at Kensington from a frightening forest of dusty unused books to a modern student-focussed hub. All without diminishing access to information.
More recently she led the integration of Symplectic Elements with Fedora to provide researchers with a streamlined process for submitting and exposing their research publications to the world and meeting open access mandate requirements. At the same time, the team collaborated with the UNSW’s IT and Research division to deliver research data storage infrastructure to researchers.
Susan is a member of the international Fedora Steering and Fedora Leaders groups. One of her goals is to ensure Australasia is represented in the development of open access repository software and to lobby for opportunities for Australasian developers to be involved in this exciting area of practice.
Susan has recently taken up the position of Associate Library Director (Resources and Access) at the Australian Catholic University. The University’s recent approach to research intensification, along with its growing student population is exciting. She sees this as an opportunity to continue her practice of leading innovation and transforming library services to enhance the lives of students and researchers.
Besides changing the (library) world, Susan’s other reason for living is to see as much of the real world as possible with her partner, Bruce. She is particularly interested in places that are off the beaten track, finding the cultural diversity across our planet invigorating and spiritually rewarding. Last stop: Central Asia. Next stop: Iceland!
'The most important thing I learnt at Aurora was that leadership skills are learned – they are not innate. They do, however, require a will to deliver, a will to take a stand, and a willingness to ensure the right people are given credit for achievements.' - Susan Lafferty, Associate Library Director (Resources and Access) Australian Catholic University