Welcome to the first GLAMR Professional Profile post for 2017!
In the coming months the ALIA SNGG blog team will showcase GLAMR professionals from all over the country and ask them questions about their careers, what drew them to GLAMR and what advice they have to offer students and new graduates.
Our first GLAMR Professional Profile features the amazing Amy Walduck. Amy is the ALIA State Manager for Queensland, a librarian with the Government Research and Information Library based at the State Library of Queensland and a member of the NLS8 organising committee. She is a Twitter extraordinaire, an enthusiastic adopter of technology and a familiar face to many ALIA members in Queensland. You can follow Amy on Twitter here.
What was your path to librarianship? What was it that drew you to librarianship?
I’m not sure, I really have no idea how I ended up in libraries! If I look back, I had a lot of good experiences in libraries as a kid and teenager. When I was a teenager I’d go to the library a lot. My mum did our family history when we lived in Gympie and was involved in the Gympie Historical Society so we came down on weekend trips to the State Library. She would use the microfiche/film and I’d rummage through the music collection. Then, when I was studying music at the Queensland Conservatorium I used to go into the music library all the time and use the State Library’s music collection.
I was a music teacher before I made the move into libraries. I think I was drawn to libraries because they are still very much a part of the education field. You still get to offer the mentoring, educating and instruction on how to use things and showcase educational opportunities.
Where did you do your library qualification and when did you graduate?
I studied a Graduate Diploma of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University, I finished up in 2014.
Where are you currently working?
Well, I have two jobs at the moment. I am a librarian at the Government Research and Information Library (GRAIL) within the State Library of Queensland. It’s a bit like a library within a library, it used to be part of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet as the Premier’s Library, but a few years ago it moved to State Library. So it really is a library within a library, which is an interesting space to be in! We work closely with the Business Studio (a coworking space) and I’ve done a lot with them in terms of networking, creating online resources and social media.
I am also the Queensland State Manager for ALIA. I do all kinds of things, from managing local memberships or answering questions, to sharing information with people who want to get into librarianship. I try to get out and about as much as I can to meet people, especially ALIA personal and institutional members. For example, I was recently out at a school library to connect with them and let them know their local ALIA member can help them if they have any questions, queries, suggestions or problems. The thing I really love to do in this role is promote local libraries and librarians in Queensland. I use social media quite a lot to connect with ALIA members and institutions, and to share the great things local libraries and librarians are doing across the state and the country.
What does a standard day look like you for?
It can be quite varied! I do a lot of blogging for the Business Studio and create online content on things like small business and entrepreneurship. Our online resources are focused on the sharing of information to that community. We also run a lot of blogs for the government members we have. These blogs focus on sharing content on what’s happening broken down by policy areas or what we know they’re working on at the moment. We compile important reports or journal articles and then try to make these sources as accessible as possible – like one click accessible – so they don’t have to go into the databases and search for it themselves. We essentially put together a curated collection and push it out to those who need it.
I do some research work too, under the guidance of our very, very experienced research librarians. They are teaching me how to be an effective research librarian, which is really great! It can be pretty fast paced and the turn around on our research is often very quick. Sometimes someone will need something put together that day, so everyone drops everything to help out with that. So I feel very lucky to be there!
Sometimes I also get to search the collection and find historical resources like old photos, reports and Queensland Government Gazettes but I would say the biggest part of my job is processing the client queries, mostly via virtual reference. It can be something as simple as ‘I want to find this book’ or redirecting questions to the right person or department or finding resources that people need. I do a lot of varied stuff, which is a real benefit of working in a special library – you learn to be a bit of a jack of all trades.
What is it that you love most about your job or librarianship in general?
I would say with my ALIA work, I just love connecting with people and seeing what awesome stuff people are doing out there. I think it’s often a problem with libraries that we don’t promote and share the great things we’re working on – many of us are quiet achievers. Like when I went to a local school library the other day and saw they were doing great things with literacy programs focusing on young boys. I thought ‘this would work really well in public libraries!’. School libraries tend to talk to other school libraries, but maybe not public libraries, so I want to promote a cross-over between all libraries to encourage the sharing of ideas. I enjoy encouraging innovators to put in submissions to conferences and to attend events to share what they’re doing. Lots of libraries are doing awesome stuff, but nobody knows about it!
With GRAIL I love the fact we’re helping people with our research – even things that seem simple to us, like finding an article on Google, can really help our members. We’re helping people make evidence based policy decisions which informs the government, which is pretty rewarding!
You’re playing a big role in organising NLS8 in June, can you tell me a bit more about it?
The New Librarian Symposium 8! It’s in Canberra, we’re at the National Library of Australia which is great, I mean, there are a lot of people who haven’t been to the National Library of Australia. We’re taking everyone to the library mothership!
Our theme for the symposium is ‘DIY library career’. We want to empower people from the start of their career to ‘do it themselves’ and take charge of their careers because you can’t wait for someone to offer you training, or to tell you what to learn next, or to offer you a job. The most successful people will tell you that they hustle and they make opportunities for themselves.
Our keynotes and presenters are all people who have stories to tell about DIYing their careers. They are people have who have skills to share and teach. NLS8 will also be an amazing networking opportunity – you’ll be able to meet some awesome people that you will see and connect with for the rest of your career. You never know when a connection you’ve made at an event like NSL8 is going to turn into a magical opportunity down the track!
Do you have any advice for students and new graduates forging their careers in librarianship?
Bring cake! No one is ever mad when you bring cake. But seriously – it’s important to make a good impression in person and online. Dress appropriately; dress for the professional you want to be. That doesn’t mean don’t dress to suit your personality, but keep it professional. These things might seem simple, but they’re important.
My other advice is to hustle. Show up to things, be visible to people time and again at events so they get to know you. Introduce yourself. Get involved in anything you can. Be visible online. I think that Twitter is the channel you need to be most visible on as a librarian because the librarian community is very active on Twitter, so get involved!
And finally, wear comfortable shoes (pretty ones!) and say yes to everything opportunity that comes your way!
Do you have any advice on learnable skills that new graduates and students can develop to really stand out?
I think basic research skills are important for any library professional. Being able to navigate a database with confidence seems simple but it’s a really important skill. Knowing how to craft an effective search and having a good research strategy to streamline your research process and get a timely output.
I would also recommend being aware of new and emerging online tools and not being afraid to use them! Things like blogging, Twitter and Instagram are obvious examples, but things like Storify are so important. Free design tools like Canva are incredibly useful along with more practical things like free online pdf converters. Build a good toolbox!
It’s also important to have some curiosity and drive, when you hear your supervisors or colleagues talking about something you’ve never heard about – look into it, find out about it, research it! Google is your friend. When someone’s name is mentioned or people are discussing a program or project you haven’t heard of, Google it, and out what it’s about. You need to always be learning and teaching yourself how to do things! Everything I do is hustle. When I started in my role at GRAIL I listened, learned and researched anything I didn’t know about. I spent a lot of time learning and becoming as knowledgeable as I could. When the time came when people asked what I thought about something, or I was in a meeting and I had an opportunity to contribute, I was informed and people listened to me. The more that you involve yourself and the more you learn in your own time, the more confidence you’ll have.
Sometimes it can be tiring to go to networking events all the time, being visible on social media and pushing yourself to learn – but if you want to succeed, you have to work hard. You have to hustle!
Can you tell me about one of your early interviews for a library role? How did it go? Any advice?
Early on, I went in for a group interview for the Brisbane City Council Library’s casual recruitment pool. I went through the process and was doing my group based interview with everyone else and doing team building activities. While I was working on the activities I caught the eye of one of the recruiters. We were making posters in groups to promote a fictional library event. It was about 4 or 5 years ago now, when QR codes were all the rage, so I suggested we put a QR code on the poster. When my group presented I explained what a QR code was and why it was useful. A senior manager who was all about QR codes at the time happened to be watching the presentations and was impressed with my idea to include one on the poster.
In the end, I was rejected from the casual pool recruitment process but by the time I got the rejection letter I had been interviewed for a full time social media position and had received an offer! I was offered that opportunity because of the effort I had put in during my group interview. I managed to stand out and I was picked for a completely different role. The best advice I can give is to put yourself out there, say yes to every opportunity, be engaged and look for opportunities to showcase your skills.
Thank you for being so generous with your time and advice, Amy!