ALIA board elections 2016: Jane Cowell

NGAC is delighted to have been able to ask questions of the candidates for this year’s ALIA board elections. Our questions were focused on issues specifically related to students and new graduates. There are a number of candidates this year and we’ve received a fabulous response so far. Many thanks to all candidates for taking the time to answer our questions. Each candidate’s response will be posted here separately.

Today’s responses come from Jane Cowell.

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?

As long as new graduates have a broad professional focus I believe the current state of the profession is very positive especially if they are prepared to go regional. If they are finding it difficult to find their first job; ramp up your networks & attend networking events; get help with your resume; talk to other professionals for advice; look broader for opportunities.

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

Continue to highlight professional positions within the library industry; extend this awareness to suitable positions for librarian skill sets outside library industry; provide increased local networking opportunities putting new graduates and potential employers together; provide opportunities for new graduates to have their resumes improved with mentors.  The benefits of hiring new professionals are the new knowledge, skills and ideas that they can bring to your 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?

The essential attitude & skills needed today is to be curious, & open to continuously learn, & to always be willing to experiment with new technology. Technology, ICT & community engagement skills are all essential.  ALIA can encourage Library Industry leaders to present at other industry conferences regarding achievements, relevance & also broaden the audience base for ALIA organised events. The recent Early Childhood summit is an example of this – allowing a broad national discussion where libraries can show their excellence.

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

Benefits personally are the relationships with other professionals that have eventuated from being involved in PD, confidence to learn & trial new things in my own workplace, being OK with being a learner & not an expert which helps when programming with our users.  It should be compulsory as our Industry is changing significantly at a rapid rate & we need new skills fast, every professional needs to take responsibility for improving his/her own skill sets, keeps our ideas fresh & relevant.

5. What would you like to see the ALIA board achieve?

I would like the ALIA Board to focus on building a higher profile for the ILS profession in the digital space across all levels of public and political domains. For members ALIA needs to achieve an awareness at all levels of the profession, the need to focus on individual continual learning & growth of skill sets. Be a central force for content marketing of the profession – gather life stories to advocate for libraries as living essential services no,tater the typeof library. And of course they need to have a sustainable member base to continue.


We encourage all eligible members to consider these responses as they make their decisions to vote in the election. Voting is underway in the 2016 ALIA Board of Directors election and will close on Friday 8 April 2016.

More information about the process and this year’s candidates can be found at the ALIA website.

Alisa Howlett, Chair ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee

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