NGAC Asks…. The Board Nominees Answer

This year 9 people have nominated for 4 positions on the ALIA Board of Directors.

The New Generations Advisory Committee (NGAC) took this opportunity to ask them some questions, to see how they felt about new graduate issues.  We also collected questions via twitter and asked them to the nominees.  We asked 11 questions, with 3 being from Twitter, so I apologise in advance for the length of this post.

We received responses from 4 of the 9 nominees.  Their responses are shown below, with no changes to format, spelling or grammar.

On behalf of NGAC, I would like to thank those nominees who took the time to answer our questions and wish all nominees the best of luck for the election.  I would also like to give a shout out to Hugh Rundle, from whom we copied the idea of blogging questions from the nominees.  Keep an eye out for Hugh’s questions to the nominees on his blog.

Kate (NGAC Chair)

Annette McGuinnes

Firstly, I wanted to start by saying ‘thank-you’ for providing an opportunity to engage with a key group of ALIA.  Even though I have been a member for just over 20 years now and I realised that there were many things that I have still to learn about ALIA and about the depth and breadth of the library and information industry in Australia and beyond.  I wasn’t sure with some of the questions on how to answer them without further information but it is one of the reasons that I am nominating for the Board – as a learning experience and to get to know more about ALIA, about current members and about future ones as well!

1. What are your ideas for engaging with students and new graduates?

My first introduction to ALIA was as a student doing the Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Management course at UC (back in 1993). Someone from ALIA came to speak with us and I joined the next week – I was highly enthusiastic mind you – embarking on a new career in an industry that I was only just beginning to explore, but with ALIA I saw that my network was not just Canberra but all around Australia….and I have to say it was pretty exciting, and that feeling still remains!
However, those were the days where the Internet was just a baby and there were a lot more libraries, people could go into undergraduate classrooms and have a chat and engage students and new graduates in person. This is still a great strategy – i.e. a real person talking with students but now it can be done in so many ways – physically (in classes, at conferences, seminars and other PD events) and remotely (through video calls and conferencing, Skype, and through all of the social media avenues). Also valuable are the ALIA groups and the Advisory committees like NGAC. Students and new graduates are the future of our profession and in turn will drive the future of ALIA.
I do believe that the Board Members (whoever they end up being) do need to use all of these communication avenues to not only ‘talk’ with people (students, new grads, members, and non- members) but also to ‘listen’ to your stories/experiences, your expectations for your career, and also about your ideas and how you can be involved in creating what you desire from a professional association.

2. What are your ideas for getting more new graduates to join alia and volunteer for alia groups?

If we are committed to the communication – i.e. the two-way information sharing process and the strategies touched on earlier then we are taking valuable steps for engaging new graduates (and some who are not so new) to join ALIA, but not just with focus of what is in it for you but also about what you can learn and what you can then give to others to help make their lives, their studies or their work even better. If you are anything like me then you are in this profession because you enjoy working with people and technology and information and this drives you to be involved.
In relation to volunteering for ALIA groups and becoming involved in the work of the Association there are a large number groups that ALIA members can join. Now there are State based managers again – and lots of communication pathways (website, telephone, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), there are some great contact points to get some information about these groups! Some say that it is hard to ‘break’ into a group and that the members have all been on a group for over a decade. Let me tell you that the reason they have probably been on the committee for that long is because they are waiting for you to express an interest…. there would be many a group that would welcome involvement of new group members with open arms! 

3. How do you think ALIA can have a bigger national voice and engage with the media and politicians?

Of course it still needs to be continuously improving, but I actually believe that ALIA already has a strong national voice and that it has used it well over the last few years. ALIA has represented its members’ views on a wide variety if relevant issues through position papers, press releases and lobbying. I have seen a number of ALIA’s publicly available submissions to a number of Government and other inquiries, and I believe that ALIA’s voice has carried some weight in the various arenas. This was certainly evidenced in the contribution made by ALIA in the ALRC report (published December 2013 and tabled February 2014).
There have been a large number of great advocacy campaigns and the advocacy information and tools developed by ALIA have been highly effective in highlighting issues of importance to libraries and information organisations across all our sectors. We also have lots of ‘good stories’ to tell [pun absolutely intended!] and it is important that these are promoted as well.
Good engagement with the media and with governments of all levels really comes back to exceptional relationship building and while this is much more ‘behind the scenes’ work. The connections forged by both the National office and those of us ‘on the ground’, not just with our local politician, but also with business and community partners, our colleagues and our clients, it is crucial and it is this work that helps our voice get stronger (rather than bigger as such).

4. How would you “sell” ALIA membership to a sceptical librarian?

I would love to say that an ALIA membership sells itself but unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. ALIA has a number of membership categories that offer a range of benefits – the tricky thing is that it is a value proposition and for each individual the value differs.  Different people have different ideas about what is value for their money.  I have had many people say to me over the years that ALIA membership is too expensive and they can’t see the value of joining…. I do point out to people that ALIA membership is not as expensive as some other Australian professional associations, the fee is tax-deductible and that using the direct debit option is good for spreading the cost.

To me ALIA is its members and in a rapidly changing information world, there is real strength in numbers particularly in advocacy work and in policy development and this is what should ‘sell’ a membership.  Here is the thing though – we happen to work in a supporting and sharing industry and because of this we share in many forums and this includes through ALIA so non-members can actually get access to a lot of information and materials even though they are not members so I understand why many people don’t need to join – although it should be kept in mind, this is made possible by those members who do see the value in investing in their industry association, whether as an individual or an institution.
 
5. Why do you want to join the board? What are you hoping to achieve?

Being on the ALIA Board is on my career bucket list and had been for some time so when I was asked to nominate I jumped at the opportunity. I have been involved with ALIA in the ACT region in some way for 20 years or so now which is great because there is a lot of interaction across the different sectors.
My primary ALIA work has been with the University and Research Libraries (URLs) Group, but through my paid employment and my ALIA experiences, I have been able to work with many librarians, indexers, researchers, and information technology specialists from university/TAFEs, government libraries, National Library and the public libraries (the Year of Reading was a great initiative).  As ACU Canberra is also the library service provider for all of the Catholic Schools in the  Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn I have also gained some insights into the needs of school libraries as well.
Being a member of ALIA Board would extend my knowledge, experience and contribution to the national level and not only enable me to apply all that I have learnt in my career already but to also the opportunity for me to learn even more and make a significant contribution to the forward-looking stance ALIA has to adopt to face its future challenges. 

6. How can ALIA better engage with other library and information organisations such as ASLA, RIMPA and ASA?

My understanding – as I do not have the knowledge/experience (yet) about the relationships between ALIA and the Australian School Library Association, the Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia and the Australian Society of Archivists, is that there would be common goals shared between all of these organisations and I have found that it is the sum of the whole that has achieved far more than all of the parts could separately so creating and maintaining pathways for communication and building relationships need to be the focus if related organisations are to work well together. Working together in advocacy campaigns is also an excellent strategy for strengthening connections and achieving shared or similar goals. 

7. What changes does ALIA need to make to be a better association?

I think that ALIA has a very solid foundation but because it is a membership-based association, it always has to weigh up the costs and benefits of all that it does to ensure that the Association’s funds and assets are applied in such a way that gives the greatest return on investment. Not just in terms of money but also in terms of human resources as well – in enabling positive experiences and support for staff, partners, and members.
Becoming a Board member will show me strengths and weakness of the organisation so I am not sure I can offer any great suggestions for changes at this point however what I do know is that ALIA does need to be financially stable, and also as flexible as possible (I think ‘nimble’ is the latest buzz-word for that) to be able to take advantage of opportunities and reduce threats to the ALIA ‘business’ especially as it is a not-for-profit organisation – this is why a strong/er membership base is an absolute necessity. 

The following questions were submitted from followers of the NGAC twitter account.

I did think about keeping the responses to 140 characters – but as this is going to the blog, I decided not to restrict the responses. 🙂

 
8. Anyone working with information needs to consider the role of open data/archiving, what is your position on this? From @Info_Aus

I fully support the idea of open access and I know that there are advancements being made in this area all the time. I also know that “open access to all” is not possible without a solid financial foundation and that this needs to be covered by somebody (often a library). It is not just the information and research itself that is of value and has associated costs – the structures needed to acknowledge, access and maximise use of information also need to be funded so it is a balance proposition that needs to be managed very carefully.

9. What is your opinion on the use of social media for professional development? Can you provide personal examples? From @madradish

I support the use of social media and video conferencing software for T&D activities as it does extend learning opportunities to a far larger audience. I have participated in online courses and tutorials, and a range of webinars (using Lync, Adobe Connect and general video-conferencing). I haven’t used Facebook for teaching and PD purposes but I know others who have and gained much from the experience! 

10. How do you personally plan to communicate and disseminate information to workers in the industry, including non-members of ALIA? From @kylastephen

ALIA’s various email lists, website, and the weekly bulletin are all good ways of disseminating (i.e. pushing information out) to members but a more personal approach would involve the use of social media as it provides a number of good communication pathways and can be used by anyone – members and/or non-members of ALIA.

11. Can you outline any ideas create accessible & relevant professional development opportunities across the industry? From @kylastephen

Some ALIA groups (like our URLs group) offer monthly lunchtime seminars, networking activities and workshops. There are also some professionally delivered, reasonably priced training courses (especially if you can make use of a member’s discount). However all of these offerings tend to be face-to-face and only available in the metropolitan cities, so more needs to be done to extend relevant and well delivered T&D activities to a greater number of people. I think that some of the ideas suggested in the response to @madradish are good ones that can extend the offerings currently available, especially if we work closely with our academic LIS colleagues and harness their knowledge and experiences!


Jane Shelling


Thanks Kate for this opportunity.
 
1. I think it is essential that ALIA is seen as a welcoming and helpful place to new grads and students. We need them for the future of our organisation. There are some good ALIA initiatives in place already around mentoring, PD and jobs but I think we need to market these more aggressively to our newer colleagues and possibly use different communication methods. I would be adverse to a bit more fun!
 
2.Everyone needs a motivation to do things.  We need to look at what new grads have to offer ALIA and what we can do in exchange. It is essential that new members be involved in the organisation and feel they have something to contribute.
 
3. ALIA needs to be a strong organisation both in member numbers but also in voice and in alliances.  At time we play it too safe, we need to make some powerful friends and gain some media savvy.This isn’t easy to achieve but I think we are going in the right direction.
  
4. I am always trying to sell ALIA and our PD scheme.  Mostly the skeptical want to know what’s in it for me?  I think we have a lot to offer our colleagues but selling ourselves is difficult, we have to keep at it market, market, market and network, network, network.
  5.  My NGO library was recently defunded by the federal government.  I turned to ALIA for help and I got it.  We still got closed down but having an organisation in my corner helped a great deal.  I would like an opportunity to give back and help grow ALIA into a force to be reckoned with.
  
6.  Networking is key to building an organisation and that includes ties to other like minded groups.  I would like to see us develop better, supportive relationships with a number of related groups.  This could be as simple as building relationships between CEOs.
  
7.ALIA needs to build its membership and especially build its participation in formal PD.  This will make ALIA more relevant and more closely tied to employment issues.   
  
8.  I am strongly supportive of open access and digitisation.  I think this is the way of the future and something ALIA can take a lead role on.
  
9.  I think all means of communication should be used to help with PD.  Messaging, tweets etc can be used as reminders of events or alerts to articles or to take part in a conference.  I have used Facebook as a networking tool and have been a discussion list monitor for some years (questions and news items were the main postings).  I have used Pinterest to alert users to top recommended websites.  There is definitely a cross over between our professional and social lives the challenge is keeping it relevant and timely.  
  
10.  Interesting – I like the comment about non-ALIA members or should we call them potential ALIA members?  I would certainly like to be accessible to anyone who wanted to contact me and my preferred way to communicate is email.  I have been using an e-blast quite successfully this is a short sharp regular email with just the facts and links to more info.  Nothing beats personal communication of course and I am very keen to grow the ALIA network.
  
11. I believe there are a lot of PD opportunities available, the problem is letting everyone know about them.  ALIA has a website and regular email postings which might be enough for some people.  An alternative could be to be more proactive with PD enrolled members.  Check on their progress, give them some suggestions and make the whole thing a bit more fun. 

Aileen Weir

1.  What are your ideas for engaging with students and new graduates?  
In my view, ALIA needs to convince graduates and younger professionals that the association is adapting and evolving to accommodate the broad range of careers ahead, not just the traditional library roles of the past.   Encouraging students to join ALIA, and, even more importantly, retain membership as they move into the workforce, is key to ensuring a vibrant and healthy association into the future.  The Board received some useful input from the survey conducted by NGAC, as well as the broader members’ survey conducted last year (see the Incite article), and now needs to respond to the concerns raised. 
Members want to see how their membership fees are being used and how belonging to ALIA equips them for the jobs of the future.  In my view, this involves continuing to have a strong advocacy campaign to government and others outside the profession, working closely with library educators to ensure ALIA accreditation remains meaningful, especially to employers, and promoting ongoing professional development so people outside the profession see that we take ourselves seriously.  A key focus for the incoming Board will be expanding our role to better encompass the “I” in ALIA, both to attract new members and demonstrate that our profession is evolving.
  
2.  What are your ideas for getting more new graduates to join alia and volunteer for alia groups?
As mentioned above, I think it comes down to helping younger professionals see the relevance of joining, belonging and participating.  The profession is undergoing significant change and prospective members need to see how the association is adapting and working to promote the skills of its members.  This has been a major focus in the past year through the Future of the Profession activity. 
How we communicate about the benefits of belonging is also key.  People generally think of the direct benefits to individuals (i.e. receiving inCite, conference fee discounts, access to professional journals through Proquest, etc), but membership fees also support advocacy campaigns on issues like copyright reform and ebook publishing as well as accreditation of library and information education.   We need to help people recognise the value of these less obvious benefits and the important role the association plays in presenting a strong, united front on the issues that matter. 
As for getting involved, ALIA offers many ways, with varying degrees of commitment – ALIA groups, advisory committees, and the Board.  Like most things in life, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it, so why not get involved?  
  
3.  How do you think ALIA can have a bigger national voice and engage with the media and politicians?
In my opinion, advocacy is one of the most important activities ALIA does.  We have to choose the issues we tackle carefully and use multiple strategies to communicate our messages.   There is no one right approach, each issue is different, and we learn what works most effectively from each experience.  We also need to continue collaborating with other ‘like’ associations and bodies on issues where that will strengthen our clout.   
  
4.  How would you “sell” ALIA membership to a sceptical librarian?
In an ideal world, ALIA membership should sell itself if the association is providing leadership, lobbying on behalf of members, promoting the skills, qualifications and values of library and information professionals to the outside world, and providing avenues for ongoing professional development.  In times when many libraries are under threat, publishing is undergoing a huge shift, technology is continuously evolving and our profession is on the cusp of redefining itself, why wouldn’t you join?  As the 2014 conference theme states ‘Together we are stronger’.
  
5.  Why do you want to join the board? What are you hoping to achieve?
I’ve been fortunate to be working with the Board for the last two years and am proud of the activities and direction ALIA has taken.  We have a clear Strategic Plan that aims to be responsive to members, but also provide leadership.  I’d like to continue to help our members adapt to a rapidly changing environment by promoting the values of the association, advocating on the issues that matter, and encouraging members to maintain and develop their skills through ongoing professional development. 
  
6.  How can ALIA better engage with other library and information organisations such as ASLA, RIMPA and ASA?
ALIA has good relationships and formal Memoranda of Understanding with a number of affiliated organisations.  However, collaboration and communication can always be improved.  As a national association, ALIA needs to rise above sectoral differences where possible and work with affiliated associations on all issues where there are common interests. 
  
7.  What changes does ALIA need to make to be a better association?
In my view, the biggest challenges facing us are finding ways to attract and retain members and ensuring that people outside the profession see how the skills of librarians and information professionals are relevant in today’s society.   This will involve numerous strategies, many of which are mentioned in my answers above.  
  
8.  Anyone working with information needs to consider the role of open data/archiving, what is your position on this?  From @Info_Aus
I agree with the concept of open access, especially for academic research output that has received public funding, but also acknowledge that publishing is an expensive business.  We need to find new economic models that acknowledge the ease with which information can be disseminated using today’s technology.  ALIA must continue to work with publishers, authors and creators to find solutions that are economically viable but minimises the amount of content that sits behind a pay wall.  
  
9.  What is your opinion on the use of social media for professional development? Can you provide personal examples?  From @madradish
In my experience, Twitter probably offers the best potential for professional development.  I enjoy monitoring the comments of others when following a conference or seminar hashtag.   I enrich my personal learning by reading the blogs of leaders in the field, such as Lorcan Dempsey.  In my opinion, some forms of social media, such as Facebook, blur the lines between one’s professional and personal life so each individual has to determine what works best for him/herself.  I personally do not use Facebook for professional purposes.
  
10. How do you personally plan to communicate and disseminate information to workers in the industry, including non-members of ALIA? From @kylastephen
ALIA offers a number of communication channels to keep members informed of issues as they arise and what the Board is doing.  These include ALIA Weekly, articles in inCite, and the summaries of each Board meeting.   There are also numerous emails lists and groups that people can join if they want to focus on a particular issue or sector.   Although some of these channels are also available to non-members, I would encourage people to join to take full advantage.
  
11. Can you outline any ideas create accessible & relevant professional development opportunities across the industry? From @kylastephen
ALIA offers quite a broad range of professional development opportunities.  Many activities happen at a local level, through ALIA’s wide range of groups who offer lunchtime seminars, library tours and other activities often at low cost or free of charge.  Members can also access professional reading as part of their membership fee or attend training courses or workshops that are usually less expensive than attending a full conference.   Following a conference Twitter hashtag is another inexpensive way obtaining professional development.
Thank you for these insightful questions and the opportunity to share my views on the priorities facing the association and the actions we can collectively take should I be elected to the Board.

Elke Dawson 

1.  What are your ideas for engaging with students and new graduates?

Presenting a personal face to the Association is very important. This is the idea behind ALIA’s State Managers and I believe they play a vital role in engaging with students, new graduates and in fact all our members. We have a great team of enthusiastic State Managers who meet regularly with staff from ALIA House to share and generate ideas in this space.
2.  What are your ideas for getting more new graduates to join alia and volunteer for alia groups?
Belonging to ALIA and volunteering presents an interesting and hopefully enjoyable way of engaging with others in the profession. It also provides opportunities for lifelong learning and remaining a certified professional. These are benefits which cannot be underestimated in today’s workplace.  
3.  How do you think ALIA can have a bigger national voice and engage with the media and politicians?
Our current Executive Director, Sue McKerracher’s experience in communications and marketing will see ALIA having a bigger national voice this year following on from the ground work done last year in regards to defining the ‘Future of the Profession’ for a variety of library sectors.  
4.  How would you “sell” ALIA membership to a sceptical librarian?
I would ‘sell’ ALIA membership to a sceptical librarian by encouraging them, in the first instance, to follow what ALIA is doing through our various social media communication channels.  
5.  Why do you want to join the board? What are you hoping to achieve?
ALIA has been very proactive during my last term as Director in the areas of advocacy, the Future of the Profession, engagement with e-book policies and the new Professional Development (PD) scheme initiative. I am seeking re-election as a Director in order to continue work on these initiatives as well as following through on several others in the pipeline, which include defining the ‘I’ in ALIA, the development of ALIA’s research agenda and its own digital repository to capture, preserve and promote its extensive portfolio of advocacy documents, research publications and conference papers to promote libraries, librarians and LIS research.
6.  How can ALIA better engage with other library and information organisations such as ASLA, RIMPA and ASA?

The Board, Sue McKerracher and other ALIA House staff have been actively touching base with a variety of other library and information organisations which have resulted in a number of Memorandums of Understanding. This work will continue this year.  

7.  What changes does ALIA need to make to be a better association?
I believe that ALIA is already a great association but like all organisations there is always room for improvement. As a professional association we rely heavily on input from our members on what they see as important and look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts at the annual National Advisory Congresses in all states.  
8.  Anyone working with information needs to consider the role of open data/archiving, what is your position on this?  From @Info_Aus

I believe this is a vital role for libraries and librarians into the future. While visiting the  ‘Handwritten: ten centuries of manuscript treasures from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin’ exhibition at the National Library of Australia a couple of years  ago I couldn’t help but wonder what there will be for our children’s children to see now that we are in the full throes of the ‘digital age’. While the importance of digitizing existing print resources can’t be underestimated it is imperative that libraries be at the forefront of collecting, describing and curating digitally-born resources for future generations.

9.  What is your opinion on the use of social media for professional development? Can you provide personal examples?  From @madradish

Social media is an exciting medium for professional development. When attending conferences I provide the relevant twitter hash tag to my work colleagues and encourage them to follow the variety of keynotes and conference streams in real time.

10. How do you personally plan to communicate and disseminate information to workers in the industry, including non-members of ALIA? From @kylastephen

I hope to use my twitter account to communicate and disseminate information to a wider audience. 

11. Can you outline any ideas create accessible & relevant professional development opportunities across the industry? From @kylastephen

As a librarian working in regional Queensland the use of a variety of online technologies is an everyday occurrence for us and affords my staff access to national and international forums and meetings which would only a couple years ago have been impossible to attend. It is amazing what is freely on offer. 

Other Nominees

The other nominees who did not provide answers to these questions are listed in alphabetical order:

Beatriz Aroche 
Michelle Jensen  
Anne Lahey
Marian Morgan-Bindon
Cheryl Smith

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