Humans of LIBER Interview — Alisa Martek, Library Advisor at the National and University Library Zagreb

Posted: 18-07-2023 Topics: Humans of LIBER

This interview is part of our Humans of LIBER series. We feature real people working at research libraries who make up the LIBER community. By highlighting our community and the people who work in LIBER libraries across Europe, we aim to inspire, connect and strengthen our network – and emphasise the value of being a LIBER Member. We hope you enjoy each of these personal stories from our research library network.

We interviewed Alisa during a visit to the National and University Library Zagreb (NSK) as part of the CeOS_SE Project. Project partners were hosted by NSK as part of three days of Learning, Teaching and Training Activities (LTTA) on Citizen Science. Read more about CeOS_SE and what it aims to achieve on the project website.

About Alisa

My name is Alisa Martek and I am currently a Library Advisor at the National and University Library in Zagreb (NSK). I hold a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Zagreb.

Before coming here, I worked in two special libraries; the research library of the Croatian Geological Survey, and then the Library of the Croatian State Archive. In 2015, there was a possibility to come to work here at the National and University Library in Zagreb. My role was to license e-resources on the national level for the Croatian Academic and Research Library consortium. I am now responsible for all the licensing here at NSK.

When I was young, my interest shifted a lot. First, I wanted to be a chemical technologist. Then in the 4th grade, my attention shifted to mathematics and informatics. Don’t ask me why! So, I went to study mathematics and informatics at the Faculty of Science, but that didn’t last long. I decided to change the major to Library and Information Science with Spanish. I had never studied it before, but I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to learn something new. I chose Library and Information Science because it was related to mathematics – in the first year, we studied mathematics and statistics, which was kind of appealing to me. In my third year of my study, I had to choose which department to focus on. I could choose between documentation or archival science, or museum science. Basically, anything that involves lots of dust! Maybe not for me. And so, library science was the last option.

In my final year, we had to do a work placement at a library, so I went to the library of the Faculty of Electronic Engineering and Computing. I was only obliged to stay there for a few weeks, but I stayed for several months because I liked it so much. After that, the opportunity presented itself to work at the Library of Croatian Geological Survey. So, remember when I said I don’t want to work with dust? At the time, there was no one employed, and basically, no one entered that library. There was such an enormous amount of dust on the books and on the journals. It was a total mess. That was my first job, to sort out the archives. But in the end, I found it really fun working with them.

Working at the National and University Library Zagreb

I’m responsible for licensing here. I manage the international database for the whole consortia. We follow the normal licensing cycle, so right now in the autumn, the end of September, we are planning the next year, planning the budget and receiving statistics, analysing the previous usage. I am also tasked with opening free trials and talking with publishers to arrange these. We arrange free trials and analyse to see if they are well received. If they are, we will consider them for subscription – if there are enough funds, obviously.

No day is the same as the previous day. You never know what the day will bring. You can make ‘To Do’ lists of what needs to be done, but if you want to plan to the detail, that plan usually gets blown out of the water. You have to adjust to that and be able to shift very quickly from one task to the other. It is not possible to do that without a good team.

The Value of the LIBER Network and Citizen Science

‘I see Citizen Science as something that the user services department can offer to get users more engaged.’

NSK has been a member of LIBER for a very long time. Being the main library of Zagreb University, we find it useful to have the guidance of the LIBER strategies and principles to help our everyday work.

I started going to LIBER Annual Conferences when I started working here at the NSK library. My first was in 2017, in Patras. For the work I do here in licensing journals, the principles of Open Access and Open Science that LIBER stands for are very important. I find it inspiring to follow the Open Access Working Group, read the materials they produce and listen to their presentations. At LIBER events, there are always very interesting keynote presentations, too.

In 2019, at the LIBER Annual Conference in Dublin, I started developing an interest in Citizen Science, so I joined the LIBER Citizen Science Working Group to learn more. As I’m working in the user services department, it is always interesting to learn how to engage users more at the library. Our library has 1000 seats in the reading rooms. But those are just people going in and out of the library, not always engaging with our services. In the past when I worked for smaller research libraries, I was accustomed to being in constant contact with patrons – I never even looked at them as users. I saw them as colleagues and we did things together, thought of projects together, organised things together. Here in a larger library, that relationship is less defined. I see Citizen Science as something that the user services department can offer to get users more engaged in all kinds of problems and projects. This, in turn, will help promote our library to the wider community and show them what this library really does.

In the Citizen Science Working Group, my task is to recruit new members. We are trying to recruit members from LIBER Member Libraries in European countries that are still not represented within the group. After recruiting, the onboarding process begins to explain the three strategic development goals within the group and encourage new members to take active part in one (or more) of these goals; thus contribute to the working group development.

Do you work at a LIBER Member Library and have an interest in Citizen Science? Join the Citizen Science Working Group!

The CeOS_SE Project

‘Being part of CeOS_SE makes us pioneers amongst libraries in Croatia for Citizen Science.’

Before joining LIBER, here at the library, we knew about the concept of Citizen Science, but we didn’t really do any Citizen Science projects. In 2022, we began working with LIBER on the Erasmus+ project, CeOS_SE. As part of the project, we are responsible for Project Result 2 (PR2), which is to investigate the collaboration between university and public libraries within Citizen Science projects. Together with a local public library, we had to organise a Citizen Science activity, and then we really saw the full potential of Citizen Science and what we can do with it. Being part of CeOS_SE makes us pioneers amongst libraries in Croatia for Citizen Science. We are gaining knowledge, engaging our users and strengthening simultaneously.

Read more about the Citizen Science activities conducted as pat of CeOS_SE on the project blog

Outside of work

I have a family – I have two children, and of course, I like spending time with them. I used to have a dog, so I went for long dog walks, but nowadays that is replaced with Nordic walking.

This interview was conducted by Oliver Blake in September 2022. Are you interested in being featured as part of our Humans of LIBER series? Email us at