Study Skills: Successful study for parents

I’m Liz, I’m currently completing a Masters degree, and have five children (6-15) and one husband.  Here I offer the top tips that I have found vital for succeeding in study while raising a family.

  1. Have support. My number one tip is to make sure you have at least your top supporter on board – your spouse, partner, parent, best friend, whoever your number one supporter in life is. I could not be studying if I didn’t have my husband’s full support; this support has meant he has helped more with the housework, accommodated his work schedule to allow me to attend events, and not gotten upset about the occasional rush out the door as he came home from work.  One of the best things we did was talk in advance to set some limits.  For my husband and I, they were things like a maximum number of times per week I could skip family meal times (important in our house) without either of us feeling like I was neglecting our family.  For you, it might be how many hours a week they are willing to babysit your children so you can study, or negotiating for your partner to be the taxi driver for weekend sports.
  2. Find your “third space”.  A third space is basically a space that is neither your home nor your workplace.  For me, local libraries were the places I could go to get some uni work done without the distraction of children or housework.  Other options can be cafes with good coffee and wifi, a friend’s house; I’ve even gone to McDonalds on a public holiday when nothing else with wifi was open.
  3. Recognise that you cannot do it all and will have to cut back on other things in your life.  You can’t just add study into your already busy life and expect it to work.  For me, I stepped back from a committee I had been a part of, my youngest child started school meaning I no longer had a preschooler to entertain in school hours and, if I’m honest, I cut back on exercise.  You need to get rid of FOMO and know that your study is worthwhile.
  4. Plan ahead.  Let people know that you won’t be as available for a while.  Let work know that it’s not a great time for you to take on extra projects.  Investigate whether your workplace offers study leave on top of your normal holiday and sick leave.  Batch cook meals that freeze well for nights when there’s no time to cook. I knew several years in advance that I was going to study and spent time beforehand teaching my older children to cook.  My three eldest children (15, 13 and 11) each cook at least once a week, meaning there’s one less thing that I have to do.  Which leads to my final tip.
  5. Delegate. Delegation can be hard when you don’t think others will do as good a job as you, but drop your standards and accept that the kitchen floor swept by a 6 year old is better than not swept at all, and much better than not handing your assignment in on time because you want to get the housework done perfectly.  Delegation is vital for getting through uni, especially crunch time when assignments are due.  Ask someone to drive the kids to dance class (and return the favour in semester break). Online shopping is your friend!  

Of course, everyone’s circumstances are different and the way we manage our study looks different, so please feel free to adapt, change or ignore as it suits you and your situation. And if you have any of your own tips or studying-while-parenting hacks to share, your thoughts are most welcome, so please comment below.


Enrolling in a summer subject: Be wise and strategise

by Rebecca Lee

If you’re keen to punch out your LIS degree as quickly as possible, then in all likelihood you’ve considered doing a subject over the summer. After recently completing my first ever summer session, I have 5 observations to share which may help you decide if you’re contemplating enrolling for 2019. Continue reading

Decisions, decisions! Where should I study?

Following a recent discussion on Twitter and Facebook about the best institution to study Library Science at, we thought we would highlight a few of the available options for studying and beginning your LIS career.

First, we have Paula from Ultimo TAFE tells us about her experience:

In 2017 I decided I wanted a career change and I saw the certificate 4 in Library and information services at Ultimo TAFE as a quick easy way to get a taste of what libraries were about.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the TAFE environment and I would recommend it as a great first step on a new career path to anyone thinking about working in a library.

The curriculum is focused on skills that are applicable to the real world and there is a useful mix of face to face classes and online learning that meant I could adjust my attendance to suit my other commitments. Classes were never too large and the really fabulous teachers always had time to answer questions and have a chat about the course. The TAFE program requires students to be assessed regularly during the term and I found this not only kept you very focused on the topic, it also meant you knew how you were performing in a subject at all times.

This year I have continued at TAFE and completed the Diploma in Library and Information Services. I feel confident that this course has equipped me to enter the work force with a skill set that will be useful to employers in the modern library space.

The past eighteen months spent at TAFE have been challenging but also really rewarding. I have met some really fabulous people, both staff and students, I have improved and added to my technology skills, I have learnt how to catalogue (!!!!) and I have a new career focus that combines my interest in literature and history with my previous career in customer service.  This is so more than I expected when I went to the TAFE information day in 2017.

Liz, who is currently studying a Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) at Charles Sturt University had this to say.

Studying through Charles Sturt was the ideal option for me as it is all by distance education, meaning I can study at a time that suits me.  This is vital as I am a mother of five children (6-15) and have a lot of other things on my plate.

The lecturers are all supportive and understanding, as most people complete this degree while working and often while raising a family as well.  While some subjects have webinars scheduled for specific times, these are recorded for viewing later if the time doesn’t suit.

If you study by distance education I would strongly suggest participating in the discussion forums and maybe even creating your own small study group for advice and support.

We would love to hear more about other people’s experiences with studying LIS.  Please comment here or contribute to our Facebook or Twitter discussions.

Melbourne – Interview Skills Seminar Wrap Up


Following on from our Key Selection Criteria Seminar in June, the Victorian ALIA SNGG team hosted its second tool building seminar for the year in August: the topic this time was Interview Skills.

Understanding this daunting part of the job hunting process, our panel of industry experts gave their best tips and advice for succeeding in a job interview. The diverse group included:

  • Anna Findlay, Senior Advisor, Library Liaison and Engagement, La Trobe University Library
  • Karyn Siegmann, Manager Library Services, Bayside City Council
  • Carolyn Macvean, Manager, Parliamentary Library and Information Service Victoria

Covering a number of different library sectors, the presenters gave advice based on their own experience both as a candidate and as a recruiter. Some of their their best tips and advice were:

Before the interview:

  • If given a choice for your interview time choose the first or last of the day. That way you will have more chance of being memorable.
  • Study the key selection criteria and come up with examples from your personal experience. The questions asked will usually be drawn from the KSC.
  • Many places use behavioural questions, so have a look at some examples of these so you can be prepared.
  • Keep up with current trends in the library sector and show that you’re interested and engaged in the industry.  Attend networking and PD events, and conferences. Showing a recruiter that you are passionate about the industry is much more attractive than telling them. (Coming to ALIA events is a great start!)
  • Make notes to take with you. If you don’t want to forget that awesome example you had for that behavioural question, write it down. It’s okay to refer to notes during an interview, and shows recruiters how well prepared you are.
  • Do your research!
    • Make sure you have researched the organisation you are interviewing for. Look at their website and read through their strategic and annual plans, then consider how you and your skills can contribute to these plans.
    • Make an effort to understand the community your are applying to work with. How well do you know the types of clients the organisation services?
    • Have you thought about the future of public libraries when applying for a job in one? Do your research and you’ll be able to ace this question!

During the interview:

  • Dress neat, smart and comfortable. This doesn’t mean you have to mask your personality in corporate attire. You can and should be authentic in your appearance.
  • Pause… Breathe… You’re allowed to ask a recruiter to repeat a question, ask for a moment to gather your thoughts, or to refer to your notes.
  • Big NOs in an interview: Don’t be a smartarse, don’t be dishonest, don’t forget to iron your shirt!

Bonus pro tip:

  • Keep an aspirations job folder with position descriptions of your dream jobs to help you think about the skills you want to develop.

If you missed the event or have forgotten something you can watch the live video from the night on Facebook.


You can find other great tips by checking out the tweets from the night.

For even more help SNGGing that dream job, check out the National Resume Review Service offered by ALIA SNGG. This service allows you to send your resume to an industry professional who will provide you feedback and tips for improvement. This service is available to all ALIA members, including student members!

ALIA SNGG also have more job SNGGing information on our Job Site. Check it out!

Our next event is a more casual social event: Join us for our Spring Social event on Thursday 21 September. Hope to see you there!