ALIA Board elections 2016: Penny Davies

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. Each candidate’s responses will be posted separately. 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. 

Today’s responses come from Penny Davies.

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 LIS profession is at a time of burgeoning significant change. The myriad developments on the world stage including technology, our understanding of operating in non-traditional forums, vision to develop and deliver new outcomes etc all place the profession in an exciting space.

Added to this, generational change is already being seen but will flourish over the next years as many existing LIS professionals retire. As this age group represents a large proportion of the industry which is magnified at the managerial and leadership level this anticipated exit will open opportunities for many, both existing and new graduates entering the profession.

This is a vibrantly exciting time ripe with opportunity for individuals and the profession as a whole.

For new Graduates finding it difficult to find their first job I would encourage them to seek out someone in the industry they trust and admire. A good mentor can be a lifelong relationship and establishing someone early can greatly assist new grads in developing their careers. Ask this mentor to assist you in the process of preparing job applications and your CV. They may well be able to take you through a mock interview scenario. Any confidence that a young grad can develop will greatly assist in the process. If you don’t have a pre-existing relationship head down to the local library and introduce yourself.

Passion and a preparedness to learn about the organisation you want to work for are critical. It may be necessary, even desirable, to think outside the proverbial box when applying for jobs. Whilst it is desirable to have a career goal sometimes it is necessary to seize an unusual opportunity to open doors.

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 holds an important role in advocating for all in the industry including new grads. The professional development structure and ALIA weekly are very useful tools to be informed and abreast of change, opportunity and best practice.
The benefit of hiring new graduates include freshness, enthusiasm and passion coupled with up to date training giving the new grad an edge that is often only seen at that point of freshness. Coupling that with the experience existing within an organisation can deliver exciting, creative and innovative outcomes.

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 contemporary LIS professional must be engaged, adaptive, innovative and flexible. A commitment to ongoing professional development is a must in order to stay current, fresh and relevant in a fast changing world. A commitment to the role and a spirit of service are fundamental. As LIS professionals in many ways we hold enormous power. Bringing people and resources/information together through our expertise is highly satisfying and rewarding.

Just as it is incumbent for all LIS professionals to stay abreast of industry trends so it is true for professionals and ALIA as an organisation to also keep a watching brief on changes and developments in other industries. Important lessons can often be learned and extrapolated as well as creating opportunities to forge relationships and to advocate for the standing of the profession at all times with all parties.

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?

Professional development is critical to staying informed, vibrant and relevant. Whether through formal learning opportunities or informal such as professional reading it is critical to be constantly learning, absorbing and growing to ensure that we are providing the best quality service at all times.

I would like to think that all practitioners would see the need and be committed to pursuing excellence in their profession which includes formal and informal learning. The LIS profession is not a stagnant field. Whilst the technological changes are evident to all, it is equally important to be abreast of changing community expectations, modes of learning and engaging and seeking and sourcing information. Ongoing professional development is a prerequisite to providing cutting edge, innovative, resourceful, relevant services.

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

I have a particular commitment to ensuring the profession is as energetic, relevant and vibrant as it can possibly be. I would relish the opportunity to work as part of the board ensuring that the profession continues to be respected and valued and that in many instances it realises a new understanding and value in the eye of government, school principals, councils, business and the many others who employee LIS professionals and through controlling budgets and policy direction have an enormous say in influencing the climate in which the profession works. I wish to see the profession valued by those outside the profession and for those within it to have a firm commitment to excellence and pride in themselves and their colleagues.


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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