GLAMR professional profiles are back! We are looking at some of the people behind the ALIA Students and New Graduates Group who make up our fantastic network of volunteers – beginning with Ashleigh Paul. Ashleigh is a social media coordinator for ALIA SNGG and it part of our Twitter team. Ashleigh currently works as a library officer for the City of West Torrens and as a library assistant at St Mary’s College. In this interview, Ashleigh discusses what attracted her to ALIA SNGG and provides some tips for working online.
Can you tell readers about your journey into librarianship?
My journey into librarianship is a long one. Straight out of school I started studies in teaching, but felt it wasn’t quite the right fit. During some other life changes (including moving interstate and back again), I decided to undertake studies in a Diploma of Library and Information Services, which I thoroughly enjoyed. During my studies, I volunteered at a public library (where I ended up getting a job upon finishing my studies), as well as with ALIA SNGG’s social media team. Since then, I’ve worked in public, school (junior and senior) and academic libraries in various positions and contracts, taking up as much work as I can in different areas to expand my experience and knowledge base.
Why did you originally get involved with the ALIA Students and New Grads Group? Why do you think people should volunteer?
I went along to one of ALIA SNGG’s ‘catch up’ events (which I heard about through my studies), where I met a bunch of amazing people. Mel (SA Regional Coordinator for ALIA SNGG) highly recommended volunteering with ALIA, and I was more than willing to sink my teeth into any opportunity. I expressed interest in helping out with Social Media, Mel put me in touch with the team, and the rest is history.
I think volunteering with ALIA in any capacity is a fantastic way to get a taste of so many different areas of libraries, as well as to network with a bunch of awesome people. The SNGG team is a super supportive group, and is truly a fantastic opportunity for anybody, but especially those getting started in their library career. I would not be where I am today in my career if I hadn’t taken on my volunteer role, and I wouldn’t have had half the experience or knowledge that I have through exposure to different people, libraries, and topics. Volunteering in some capacity with ALIA would be my number one tip to anyone wanting to get the most out of their library career.
What is your role in the ALIA Students and New Grads Group? What does it entail?
I am a Social Media Coordinator as part of the ALIA SNGG Twitter team. Twitter is a huge platform for Libraries (if you haven’t already, you’ll quickly get used to the term ‘library-twitter’), and so it’s super important to be on top of trending topics and discussions that occur here. Alongside my fellow Twitter team, we take turns scheduling posts of various kinds.
We’ve recently chosen to ‘genreify’ our weekly posts by day: we have #GoodNewsMonday (good news and information in Library world), #TrendingTuesday (focusing on different trending topics each week, with insightful or interesting articles and information), #WednesdayWanders (looking at different library types/positions/locations), #UpSkillThursday (with a focus on library skills, professional development opportunities and ideas, resume and application tips etc), #FashionFriday (looking at the wonderous world of Library Fashion for a light-hearted end to the week), and #SaturdayShelfie (you guessed it, shelfies!).
We try as best we can to cover a very broad scope of topics and interests, bringing relevant and engaging information to our audience. With a focus on Students and New Graduates, we also try to highlight opportunities, such as ALIA events and jobs, as well as look at elements integral to those getting started in their library careers.
What are your top tips for people to work well remotely and stay connected online?
Each member of the ALIA SNGG Twitter team are living in different states, and so working remotely and staying connected online is an integral part of how my role works! ALIA SNGG uses a message service (Slack) to connect to everybody as a whole, but also allows us to connect in our individual teams (social media teams, regional teams etc). Flexibility is key here – everyone has different timezones, different jobs, and different schedules, and so we need to work in with each other, and back each other up. Messaging works great as you pop a message in the group, and everyone responds when we can. Occasionally, we try to have group video calls for meetings and discussions, though we have also had text-based meetings when calls weren’t possible.
My top tips for working with an online group?
1 – Stay connected. Check your messages frequently, check in with everyone often, even if it’s just sending an interesting link or saying ‘hi’.
2 – Be understanding that everyone has different lives and commitments, and that you all need to be flexible to make it work. Though online can be easier than physically meeting, people won’t necessarily be able to respond at the drop of a hat, or be available at times that best suit you. Be flexible and understanding, it will make working alongside your team much easier.
3 – If you ever get the opportunity to meet in person, do it! It makes the working relationship better having been able to connect in person.
What is the best piece of advice you have for GLAMR students and new professionals?
Take every opportunity you can! Volunteer with ALIA, or your local library. Connect with someone via LinkedIn that has your dream job, and ask if they wouldn’t mind meeting for a coffee to discuss how they reached their position. Network – get involved in library social media, attend local ALIA/Library events, participate in things like #AusLibChat. Soak up as much experience as you can – the world of libraries is vast, and you never know what skill you’ve picked up might win you that job.