ALIA elections 2015: We ask your candidates questions

Update: Friday 13th March at 4:30pm. We have also received Eve Woodberry’s responses which are now below. Thanks to all candidates!

NGAC is delighted to have been able to ask questions of the candidates for the upcoming ALIA elections. We focused our 5 questions to each candidate on issues specifically related to students and new graduates. We have received responses from Ghylene Palmer and Fiona Emberton to date. We encourage all eligible members to consider these responses as they make their decisions to vote in the election. Remember voting is now open and closes on April 10 2015 so there is no time waste. More information about the process can be found at the ALIA website.

Ghylene Palmer

1. What do you think of the state of the profession for new graduates? If they are finding it difficult to find their first job what advice would you give them?
The current state of our profession is undoubtedly competitive and in order for graduates to be competitive, they need some good habits to live by.

For information on available library positions in the workforce, please consult the ALIA LIS Education, Skills and Employment Trend Report 2014
(https://www.alia.org.au/futureoftheprofession/alia-lis-education-skills-and-employment-trend-report)

My advice to a new graduate would be to stay humble and learn from others, from everyone you meet in the workplace. It is ok not to know everything. Yes you are clever but no matter how clever you are, you will occasionally make a blunder or error of judgement. Learn from these experiences and you will recover from these moments.

Appreciate and respect the people you work with, even if you don’t always agree with them. Prove your worth through your work and let your achievements speak for themselves.

Network. Take up networking opportunities such as ALIA organised events.

Take up all the professional development opportunities that come your way whether they are through ALIA or through your place of work.

Build up on your experience and don’t focus so much on pay. Experience trumps pay. If you have several offers, choose the one that will teach you the most. If no job offers come your way, then take up some work experience in order to gain experience.

Learning these good habits will be beneficial to your career in the long term.

2. How can ALIA help students and new graduates? For those in hiring positions what are the benefits of hiring new graduate LIS professionals?
I think ALIA has already put some strategies in place to help students and graduates like the ALIANewGrads group. This group also coordinates professional development events so new graduates can meet future employers and vice versa. ALIA provides networking opportunities for students and new graduates to see what is available to them as career options.

There are numerous advantages for employing new graduate LIS professionals as they bring a new flair to the team. New graduates usually have a fresh view of the industry and this can add great value to the way things are done in the workplace. It is beneficial to have new ideas combined with enthusiasm to create a positive and creative environment. I have found that newly skilled graduates are usually eager to learn and impress and are willing to take on any projects. With limited funding, having a multi skilled librarian who shows initiative can be highly beneficial to the organisation.

3. What are the essential skills librarians and information professionals need in order to be relevant both today and going into the future? What could ALIA do to promote librarians as information professionals and service providers with skills relevant to a wider range of industries?

Essential skills in order to be relevant both today and going into the future are flexibility and adaptability in an ever changing professional landscape. ALIA could promote the fact that librarians own a set of skills in information literacy which provides them with great opportunities in non-traditional and innovative ways. In today’s information and digital world, librarians continue to undertake innovative projects and services. Library graduates are now skilled in ways that do not form part of traditional librarian career paths and this could be promoted to students throughout their LIS studies. ALIA could form partnerships with companies for internship or graduate programs so they see the value in employing a librarian.

4. What have been the benefits of undertaking professional development in your career?

Professional development has taken many forms over the course of my career and has incorporated a variety of interesting and rewarding experiences which have deeply enriched my professional and personal life and added depth to my career. Professional development has helped me build a foundation upon which I have been able to create opportunities and a higher quality career for myself and others in the profession. It has increased my competence and effectiveness and has contributed to more self-confidence. As our profession becomes more and more specialised, staying current on the latest developments is increasingly important. Professional development offered me ways in which to stay competitive in an ever-changing professional landscape.

5. Why should the Professional Development program be compulsory for all ALIA members?

Members must embrace the multitude of activities which contribute to a professional’s development. Any activity which follows an outcome based approach to learning, where the individual has reflected on practice and set about identifying an appropriate activity to develop, can be defined as professional development. Self-directed learning where the individual is responsible for their own learning and development.

The outcome of good professional development should be members with increased competence. This is why demonstrating participation in appropriate PD activities is important for registration and in satisfying the requirements of our Association.

6. What would you like to see the ALIA board achieve?
Increase our visibility outside of the “library world”
Increase memberships through improving membership experience and retaining LIS workers in the Association.
Support and engage our emerging leaders in the profession

Fiona Emberton

1. What do you think of the state of the profession for new graduates? If they are finding it difficult to find their first job what advice would you give them?

I graduated into the depths of a Recession so can understand the pressures new graduates are facing. I’m still excited about the opportunities for the new grads as the knowledge industry is now up and running and their skill set is required more than ever. It’s a matter of casting your net as widely as possible. Read each advertisement carefully – they don’t always ask for experience. And make sure you volunteer – anywhere. Get some experience of some kind. The adverts do often ask for the ability. Communicate your ability to learn. The main reason I studied LIS at the business school in Glasgow was that they were highly transferable skills that could be taken into many roles. I have no regrets at all in this career – have loved being a librarian and still love learning new approaches in our industry. Even in the past fortnight, a YouGov survey in Britain has identified Librarian as one of the top three jobs. It has taken me overseas, helped me achieve things that have helped many people and I am proud of what it does. Not many people can say that about their career.

If you are finding it difficult to land a role;
1. Seek out a mentor. Ask them to help you hone your personal selling statements.
2. If you get a knock-back then bounce back as quickly as you can. Don’t give up.
3. Volunteer with an organisation that ignites your passion.
4. Become a ‘Friend’ of your local State or other library – network your little heart out.
5. Use LinkedIn to gather recommendations (not only endorsements). Use these in your applications for new roles.
6. Think laterally, sometimes you need to go sideways to move forwards.

2. How can ALIA help students and new graduates?
ALIA provides the opportunity to network in local groups, volunteer at events, provides you with the PD initiative to document your development, allows you to stay abreast of LIS developments through their many resources and advocates for the industry to outside bodies to ensure the profession is strengthened and future-proofed. However all of these things can only happen with the active involvement of its members. It’s definitely a two-way thing; what you put in you will get out. You can’t simply pay your dues and sit back waiting for things to happen.
Enough of the sermon.
For those in hiring positions what are the benefits of hiring new graduate LIS professionals?
The Red Hot Reasons for hiring a new grad to my mind are;
1. Exposure to latest LIS approaches
2. Exposure to the new technologies
3. A willingness not only to use the new technologies but use them in new and innovative ways.
4. Energy and spark
5. An inter-generational mix of people in a team is highly valued
3. What are the essential skills librarians and information professionals need in order to be relevant both today and going into the future?

1. Communication skills will always be important.
2. The ability to provide the rationale for what you are proposing and the ability to adjust the language to the audience you are presenting to (your manager, your team, politicians, academics etc)
3. An insatiable desire to learn

3. What could ALIA do to promote librarians as information professionals and service providers with skills relevant to a wider range of industries?

I’m thinking that this is something that the new grads could drive through with ALIA, perhaps as a task group allied with the advocacy that is already happening. I’ve always been impressed with the approach the chartered accountancy organisations take in getting the word out to a wide audience. Perhaps we need to do an environmental scan of the organisations we need to market to and identify the best messages and channels to use to make the LIS profession top of mind.

4. What have been the benefits of undertaking professional development in your career?

I first became a chartered librarian in the UK and the process used then was compulsory and ensured I had a broad experience throughout my workplace, in other workplaces when I shadowed LIS professionals and also involvement in ALIA-type events. It gave me confidence and exposure to key people.

Why should the Professional Development program be compulsory for all ALIA members?

This is a leading question! I used to think compulsory was a good thing as it gave us a structure to cover what we considered an ‘apprenticeship’. However, there are excellent people out there who can develop these skills in other industries before entering ours – the world is a little more convergent now so I’m not so hooked on the compulsory angle. However, if someone was able to show me evidence of their journey through the ALIA PD initiative, it may just be what is needed to make you the successful candidate at interview.

5. What would you like to see the ALIA board achieve?
Firstly for the new board members to quickly get to grips with the role and what the scope of work will be.
I understand the role is very much a hands-on one where the Directors take a leading role on task-and-finish type activities. I also understand that ALIA is not awash with staff and that we will need to draw upon the time and willingness of the membership to achieve these things.
To set some goals around membership, fiscal governance and advocacy, communicate these to the membership and beyond – and achieve them.

Please note: These responses are published as we received them and have not been edited. Some of the two and three part questions have been split up in different ways by the candidates.

Eve Woodberry

1.What do you think of the state of the profession for new graduates? If they are finding it difficult to find their first job what advice would you give them?

I think it is very difficult as a new graduate to obtain a professional position. Quite often this can be due to a lack of on the ground experience.
The advice I would provide is to accept a position (not necessarily “any” position) to obtain experience. This could be on a part-time, voluntary or short term basis. Be prepared to learn from established staff. Also look broadly at positions. Not all positions will be branded as “librarian” or “information professional” read the fine print as you may find that the skills you have obtained are transferrable and that “researcher” or something similar will enable you to enter the professional workforce. Finally, don’t give up.

2. How can ALIA help students and new graduates? For those in hiring positions what are the benefits of hiring new graduate LIS professionals?

ALIA can assist students and new graduates by providing information on available positions, selling the skills of LIS professionals to employers and providing students with assistance in developing responses to applications which will maximise their employability.
New graduates provide employers with the opportunity to utilise the skills brought by them to the benefit of their business. Also there is an opportunity for the employer to mould the new graduate into the ethos of their business as while new graduates bring up to date skills, these need to be tempered with experience to match the expectations of the employer.

3. What are the essential skills librarians and information professionals need in order to be relevant both today and going in to the future? What could ALIA do to promote librarians as information professionals and service providers with skills relevant to a wider range of industries?

The essential skiils are those of information management, the ability to sift information to ensure that it is relevant, accurate and upto date. To be able to identify sources and assist in organising information into a meaningful, accessible and relevant manner so that it is accessible to the widest possible audience within the parameters of the organisation in which they are employed. These skills are transferrable across a range of positions in todays society.
ALIA’s role is that of the peak body for the profession making information regarding the members skills and expertise readily available.

4, What have been the benefits of undertaking professionall development in your career? Why should the Professional Development program be compulsory for all ALIA members?

Professional development has enabled me to keep up to date with developments in the profession, and build on my expertise and experience to undertake professional develoment in more genetric areas such as leadership, strategic thinking and management.
Other professions, think engineering, medicine, dentistry etc, have requirements on a regular basis for members to stay upto date with developments in the the industry in order to retain registration. Why should librarianship be different? In order to perform our duties effectively new developments need to be taken into consideration to ensure relevance and effectiveness. As a result a level of professional development is required.

5. What would you like to see the ALIA Board achieve?
A relevant sustainable association that represents librarians and information professionals effectively to employers and members. It shoudl act as the peak body for the profession and be the first point of contact of contact for governments, employers and members. This requires a level of commitment not only by Board members but by the Association as a whole.

 

Wendy Davis

NGAC (Chair)

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