A couple of weeks ago I spent an enjoyable afternoon working with a group of librarians and library students who were considering submitting a proposal for NLS6. During the afternoon, we explored and developed ideas and I was really inspired by the interesting and very different ideas for topics that came from the various experiences. I hope to see some of those ideas come to life at NLS6.
A couple of days ago there was a lively but brief exhange on twitter, around the ‘L’ word, the perception that some employers are turned off by new grads who present themselves as librarians, and the value of skills to employers. I made the case that when recruiting, I am much more interested in the applicants’ attitude than their skills, as anyone working in libraries (and probably most other workplaces) will need to be re-skilling and up-skilling regularly. Therefore I want to know that the applicant is someone who will readily pick up new skills and is a self-motivated learner rather than which skills they already possess. Of course that comes with some caveats – there is an expectation of a level of knowledge and understanding of the profession that comes with a professional qualification that is a basic requirement.
Both these events are part of the reasons why I will be attending NLS6 – I want to see and experience the great ideas that our new graduates bring to the table. I am convinced that new ideas and the contact with new grads helps to refresh and challenge us all, and I always learn something. I also believe that there are elements that are, for very valid reasons, underselling the value of our profession, and I would like to contribute to that debate so our new grads get another perspective on a profession that has been in existence and valued for hundreds of years.
There is another reason.
When we have positions to fill which are suitable for a new grad, as a senior manager I want to make sure that we attract the very best of the field. To do that I need to know what will make our roles attractive to the best – and spending more time listening to new grads talk about their ideas, experiences and career ambitions will help me understand how to attract the sort of employee we need to take us into the future.
Carolyn McDonald is currently associate director, academic services in information services at Griffith University. Prior to joining Griffith, Carolyn was manager, technology innovation at Bond University, and has over 18 years of experience in (mostly academic) libraries in Western Australia. She also worked at the State Library of WA as manager, digital services prior to coming to Queensland, and as technology librarian at Gold Coast City Council. During her career Carolyn has mostly worked with library systems, but has also worked in other librarian roles including information literacy, lending, reference, document delivery and external student support. You can find Carolyn on twitter at @camcd.