As a student, I struggle with spending time on things I want to do for fun, and things I should do for professional development. Fortunately, some things fit both categories! The New Librarians Symposium is full of fresh ideas, memorable presentations, and people who are doing amazing things in the industry. NLS5 was the first professional library event I attended, so perhaps I’m biased, but it will be difficult for other conferences to live up to my memory of it. I was excited, overwhelmed, and more than a little awed by the sheer number of awesome people in one place.
A year on, I can barely recall the venue or the food; that’s okay, because that’s not what NLS is about. I made new friends, learned new things, networked, and contributed to the Twitter back channel. The lectures I’d attended at QUT had given me some idea of the breadth of roles available in libraries, but NLS5 made it clear just how limitless my options would be. I was surrounded by real librarians, and their jobs sounded interesting, challenging, and meaningful.
The 2011 keynote speaker lineup was a who’s who in libraryland: Mal Booth, Kate Davis, Kathryn Greenhill, and – all the way from the US – David Lee King. The plenary addresses were given by Sam Hughes, the children’s librarian at WA State Library, and Garry Conroy-Cooper, a man everybody wants to work for. I have come to know and respect these people, and their work, in the past year. What’s so amazing (aside from Sam’s ability to lead a ballroom of adults in a rendition of Twinkle Twinkle) was the immediacy of what the speakers had to say.
Because NLS is a symposium, not a conference, there’s less lead time in submitting and selecting presentations. This means that topics are fresh. Instead of hearing about tired concepts and technology, you can learn what’s hot, right now. And NLS is not strictly for managers, or experienced librarians — it’s for you! You can go home, brimming with enthusiasm, and put those ideas to work.
I attended a workshop prior to the symposium, How to get THE job, and got some great tips. By the close of NLS5, I was feeling so confident and enthusiastic, I asked Steve McQuade if I could come to the State Library of WA and do my practicum. He said yes! Those two weeks were among the best in my two-year journey to becoming a qualified librarian. You never know where the connections you’ll make at NLS will lead.
If the calibre of the speakers at NLS5 is anything to go by, you’ll be blown away at next year’s symposium. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on all the fun. Go on, be different – at NLS6!
Julia Garnett is the 2011 winner of ALIA’s New Generation Advisory Committee (NGAC) competition for free registration to NLS5. She is in her final semester of the LIS program at QUT, and can’t wait to blend her love of technology, books, research, and the community in her first role as a librarian. When she’s not reading on her Kindle, you can catch her singing, blogging, or learning hip hop.