Meet ALLA(WA): Alice

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I'm Alice Hewitt and this is how I work

Current gig: Law Librarian, Murdoch University

One word that best describes how you work: My work is so varied that one word won’t cover it! Some days it’s chaotic and you’re pulled a hundred different ways and other days it’s quieter and you can focus on one or two big tasks. I would say, I work in a way that is dynamic and adaptive to the needs of the day.

What’s your workplace setup like? I am lucky enough to have two workspaces. The Law School Office that is set up for consults (and just general chats) with academics and students – the comfy arm chair is very popular. Also, it feels pretty good to have your name on a door between a professor and a doctor. My Library Office is in the main subject (liaison) librarians’ space. On my desk at the moment, apart from way too much paper work,

  • two monitors because I like to switch between programs a lot (and changing your focus point is good for your eyes),
  • two wall calendars – 2016 is about to replace 2015. They allow me to visualise time lines of various projects all at a glance,
  • spare book ends – these are to help me with the shifting and weeding in the monographs collection,
  • a column covered in important things like staff rosters, library and law school phone directories, assessment schedules, fund codes, etc.,
  • multiple in trays – one for deliveries and the other three are used to sort by work area,
  • a stack of legal research books, citation indexes and the AGLC,
  • some Sci-Fi books that a law academic donated to the library via my to be read pile,
  • a stack of filing to be put into the filing cabinet that arrived the other day,
  • headphones, because sometimes you just need a good soundtrack to get through your day,
  • a collection of coffee mugs from different conferences including my favourite part of the CALL/ACBD Conference 2015 swag, the mug that says “Librarians. Just like regular people only smarter”
  • A box of grapes, some yoghurt covered blueberries and some cashews – you’ve got to maintain the fuel levels! (Also, a jar of candy for the Law Desk staff – I know what law students want),
  • and hiding under my desk I have a fan because it can get hot in here in summer.

What apps, software, or tools do you love for legal research or general productivity? I love Trello ( to organise projects and workflow. I have different aspects of my job set up as different “boards” and I can pin up “cards” on them with specific tasks. You can include lists and deadlines and even share with other people if you feel like. I also manage the University Library’s Facebook page which involves creating content to share. I’ve discovered Canva ( which is a great free graphic design tool. Easy too – Drag and Drop. The iPad app is great although I mainly use the website at work. For legal research I use RSS Feed Readers like Feedly and Flipbook to keep track of the feeds I follow. I follow a variety of feeds from blogs, law libraries, associations, courts and publishers. They help me keep up to date and keeping them separate keeps my email account from overflowing and becoming chaos.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack? This was a tough one. I’m cooking for myself two thirds of the time so I always cook dinner that can turn into lunch left overs or be frozen. This saves time and money (no uni food court lunches for me!). I also do my groceries using the Woolies App – I make the shopping list and either order online if I’m in a rush, or use the sort by aisle feature to whiz through the shops. Very helpful when you only get one day a week where you can make it to the shops!

What are you currently reading for work or for fun? For fun (it goes first because it’s more important): Assorted travel guides for Scotland. A librarian must research her travel plans! (Have tips? Let me know!) For work: I’m re-reading The Boulder Statements on Legal Research Education. 

What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever received? It’s not really a particular piece of advice I’ve been given, but it is more something I’ve picked up in places here and there: Be present and proactive. Show passion, but remember it is just a job. A crisis is a badly gift-wrapped challenge. Volunteer when you can, but say no when you know it’s not going to work for you.

I’m passionate about…Providing the best legal research skill development opportunities to students, staff and other librarians possible. Supporting a well-respected profession that is recognised for their skills as subject experts. And on a more personal front, cooking – being able to cook is really important for a foodie with food allergies!


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