• Wikimedia Australia Wikimedia Australia
  • Ryan Donahue Ryan Donahue
  • Sue Gardner Sue Gardner
  • Ruth Kneale Ruth Kneale Ruth Kneale sponsored by the State Library of Queensland
  • Stuart Candy Stuart Candy Keynote Speaker, Dr Stuart Candy - Professional futurist
  • Ingrid Parent Ingrid Parent Ingrid Parent
  • Jenica Rogers Jenica Rogers Jenica Rogers sponsored by the State Library of Queensland
  • Marcus Foth Marcus Foth
  • NLS6 NLS6
Jun 292012

What does NLS mean to me?

To me, NLS is a ‘space’ for new librarians to develop their professional identity.

I remember the first library conference I went to, the ALIA Biennial in 2004. It was so big, and it seemed to me that everyone knew each other – I found it really hard to break into existing professional networks. I also found that the program was hard to connect with, and was aimed at people who had progressed much further in their careers than I had. Even the vendors had little interest in talking to someone who didn’t have any budgetary authority.

The first NLS I went to, however, was very different. Almost every paper was relevant or interesting to me, and people were much more open. I didn’t have to apologise for being new or young or junior. Strangers spoke to me. I could ask really basic questions of people, about their presentations or what they did at work, and found that the people I spoke to were just as interested in me as I was in them.

Being in this environment helped me understand the building blocks of our profession; it helped me identify the issues that I felt passionately about; it inspired ideas about where our profession could go. Finally, and importantly, it allowed me to develop a professional network of peers, whose careers I am enjoying watching develop alongside my own.

Why did I get involved in NLS?

By the time I put my hand up for NLS3 I had already been running the NSW branch of the New Graduates Group with my co-convenor Adrianne Harris for about a year. That experience had shown me the value of being actively involved in the profession, and I loved the opportunities I was getting to develop different skills and widen my professional network.

My role as a convenor for NLS3 allowed me to manage a team of volunteers – building my management and leadership skills. It also forced me to better understand how ALIA worked and how conferences worked. Simply put, I got involved in NLS to learn new things, and I was very successful! What I didn’t expect was how much fun it was, and how many people from the organising committee remain my friends to this day (especially after we made them “work” on weekends).

How would I like to see NLS develop?

NLS needs to offer something that delegates can’t get elsewhere. To remain sustainable, NLS needs to be generative – to produce or create something above and beyond the event itself.

I strongly believe that the professional development needs of new librarians are different from those of more experienced members of our profession, and that it’s worth having a space in which those needs can be met. But this also means that NLS has a constantly shifting target market: in most cases delegates will not keep attending NLS after their first one or two events, because they’re no longer new grads and the program is of limited relevance to them. This should be a strength of NLS – it can be a constantly changing, nimble event, that responds to the expectations of a similarly changeable target market. NLS organisers should always be asking themselves “what will meet the needs of our target delegates?” rather than “how was this done before?”

NLS does, however, face sustainability challenges; it will always be difficult for new graduates to justify that kind of intensive professional development, more delegates self-fund their attendance at NLS than at other conferences, and it’s challenging to attract sponsorship dollars when your audience is less likely to have budgetary responsibilities. Two years between conferences makes it difficult to maintain a profile with the aforementioned changing target market.

I think the future for NLS has to be in generating something beyond the event itself to fill in the two year gap. This could be a series of smaller events, a community of practice, some form of publication – or something different entirely. Ideally there would be a way for future and past delegates to engage with the NLS brand on a more regular basis.

I’m very aware that I am no longer the target market for NLS, but it remains important that this ‘space’ is preserved for new librarians. Fundamentally, I would like to see NLS continue as a unique and sustainable event, and a vital training ground for the future leaders of our profession.

Alyson was one of the co-convenors of NLS2006. She’s currently working with the University of NSW Library as Client Services Coordinator, and has a background that spans special and medical libraries, vendor and association work. She has thoroughly enjoyed every NLS she has attended, and wishes NLS were held every year in Sydney, so she could go to the parties without having to justify it to her boss.


 June 29, 2012  Posted by at 10:58 am bits and pieces Tagged with: , , ,  Comments Off on Guest Post: Alyson Dalby, NLS3 Convenor
Jun 252012

What does NLS mean to me?

I still vividly remember the feeling I had walking into the conference room at the very first NLS in Brisbane in 2002.  The energy, enthusiasm and passion in the room was HIGH and SO different to any other professional event I’d been to.  This was back in the days before Twitter, Facebook or PLNs, and at that point there wasn’t even an ALIA New Graduates Group – no way for new graduates to easily connect and share experiences across the country.  So for me, NLS was initially all about the real personal value of connecting with a wide professional peer group, to share ideas, goals, questions & inspiration (and of course, a cocktail or two!)

Later, when I convened the 2nd NLS in Adelaide in 2004, NLS was also a great learning experience in how to put up my hand and take risks, work within a national organisation like ALIA, work with a large committee, manage a significant budget, source international speakers and collaborate with some amazing and dynamic colleagues.  It gave me a depth of experience which I never would have gained in my day-job, and I think helped me step up to a management role more quickly than I otherwise would.  10 years later, I look back and realise that it was through NLS that I formed really valuable professional relationships, networks and friendships that are still important today and will last me throughout my career.

Why did I get involved in NLS?

Well, I am someone who likes to volunteer for things – I’m not sure you could have stopped me! 😉 It was a frustrating time to be a new graduate employment-wise, but rather than complaining, I wanted to do something positive.  I was really excited to be involved at a time where there were a lot of new developments at ALIA for new graduates – NGAC had just been established, work was just beginning on a New Graduates Group, and ALIA leadership were extremely supporting and encouraging of new grads. It was immensely satisfying to be involved in all of these initiatives and now, years later, it’s great to see new grads are now strongly represented on local groups, committees and advisory committees throughout the Association.  There are lots of possibilities to make a difference by getting involved, and it is rewarding to see the end results.

How would I like to see NLS develop?

I think it is up to each generation of new grads to define where they want NLS to go and what role they need it to play.  The environment has changed a lot from 2002, and there are more ways a new graduate can feel connected and engaged with their peers now than were available to us ten years ago.  However, I’d hope that NLS continues to offer a space where new grads can get together, share ideas, contribute and feel welcomed into the wider profession.  I think it’s also a fantastic supportive place where new grads can test out their budding presentation skills among peers.  I would note that it is important to see NLS as just an entrance, not the whole professional experience! The NLS vibe is often so enjoyable that some people would rather stay in the “new graduate” zone when in fact it can be the first of many steps into the profession as a whole and all that it can offer.


Kate (second from the left in both photos) with other NLS convenors and committee members


 June 25, 2012  Posted by at 10:29 am bits and pieces, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Jun 182012

Last year at the New Librarians Symposium 5 in Perth I had the opportunity to reflect on previous NLS.  ALIA is just about to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the first event which was 6th & 7th December 2002.

The history of NLS and new graduates in Australia during the past 10 years is also covered in other articles so do take a look at Naomi Doessel’s INCITE summary from October 2010 (PDF).

How exactly did NLS get started? An idea, enthusiastic friends and colleagues, and a willingness to continue to push on with the event even though there were a few doubters.

In 2002 the then ALIA New Generation Policy Advisory Group,  now known as the ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee was just starting up. It was during this year that the ALIA Board discussed how to support early career professionals, and the NLS was a part of that.

My first committee was made up of Aurora Alumni, close colleagues and interstate volunteers. Many Aurora Alumni can be found in the composition of NLS Committees.

When I wrote the Aims for the working title of the event as an initial proposal to the ALIA Board of Directors – the “Seminar for Young and New Librarians”  this is what they were :

  • To encourage and support the best possible development for future library professionals who will be the ones to recreate the library and information profession over the next 30 years
  • An opportunity for those in the 20-40 age bracket to get together to discuss similar ideas, problems, issues and the future of the library profession
  • To provide an opportunity for skills and knowledge  development, and career planning that may not be available or rovided by their current employer
  • To encourage library professionals to advance into managerial positions to begin to replace older professionals who are retiring
  • To provide opportunity for networking

As the first NLS convenor my presentation last year included the history and statistics of the past NLS as well as professional and personal reflections and insights.

There was such enthusiasm locally in Brisbane for the first event that a smaller ‘mini’ version was conducted in December 2003 as NLS1.5, while the planning for the Bi-annual event in 2004 – NLS2 was underway.

The Principles of NLS

Some of the key principles or topics that NLS was formed around include:

Career Planning. One of the basic principals of moving through a career is planning ahead. Alan Smith in his 2004 NLS presentation encouraged us all to plan two library career moves ahead.

Networking during a Career.  Strategic alliances and knowing how to approach senior people within the profession,  learn from them,  learn what not to do from them,  work with them, for them.  It is important that senior and respected professionals join with new graduates at an event like NLS.  At NLS1 we held the Big Wigs Cocktails – an opportunity for the senior people to ‘let their hair down’ a little and for the newbies to feel a little more comfortable in their company – see the photos from 2002.  A similar evening was recently repeated by ALIA Queensland.

Sectoral skills transfer. It’s important that we have people with broad knowledge and skills and not just focussed on one sector for their whole career.  You can learn so much from others both within and outside our amazing industry.

Empower new professionals.  It is important for us to retain our younger and newer members of our profession. (One of the many inspirations for the first NLS was this presentation).

Networking with Vendors.  The companies that sponsor ALIA events are an important part of the profession.  Their financial contribution to events and conferences also contributes to the work of ALIA – advocacy, professional development, course accreditation just to name a few.  I encourage you all to take up the opportunity of the alignment with ALIA Information Online 2013.  Stay the extra day to visit the Trade Exhibition.

Part 2 coming soon!


Sue Hutley is currently the Director, Collections and Access at the Queensland State Archives.  From 2006-2011 Sue was the Executive Director of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA).  Sue’s previous positions during her library career included management positions in TAFE, special, public and academic libraries.

 June 18, 2012  Posted by at 5:30 pm bits and pieces Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Jun 142012

After rethinking and redefining the N and the S, the NLS6 committee can’t help but also examine the L that might – or might not – be part of your degree name, your job title, or your workplace description. That might define you in the eyes of your clients. That might inform your current or future career directions. L: Librarian.

While we’re keeping the L in NLS6 we are also acutely aware that many of us don’t work in ‘libraries’ or as ‘librarians’. We are also data managers, knowledge workers, information architects. Archivists, learning officers, research specialists. Let alone the specialisations that exist within any of these branches and the countless others that make up the library and information professions. The lines between these roles are blurrier than ever and, in my opinion at least, it is at the intersections and emergences – and all the glorious debate and messiness therein – of these paths that the really interesting questions about our fundamental professional goals, identities and practices lie.

The NLS6 Organising Committee reflects the diversity of the information professions. And we’re really keen to make sure the complexities and challenges of the evolving professional landscape are reflected in a diverse and inclusive program. NLS6 will be an NLS for all library and information professionals, not just the big ‘L’ librarians. We also want to make sure to highlight the opportunities and crossovers between the different facets of the sector; who knows, you might just discover a new passion and future career!

Do you think of yourself as a ‘librarian’? Where do you think the different roles diverge, and where do they meet?

Jun 082012

What is the definition of a ‘new professional’? In terms of a period of time, you’ve probably hear people talk about new professionals as having been in the profession for up to about five years.

But so many variables are involved in how we think about ourselves and our ‘newness’. If you make a big job change after a few years in the profession (like going from public libraries to corporate information management), you might find you still feel like a new professional well beyond that five year mark. If you make a transition to a senior position early in your career, you might feel like the term ‘new professional’ doesn’t apply to you, even if you’re only a few years out from your graduation. In reality, the idea of ‘new’ in the context of your professional status is entirely subjective and unique to you.

That’s why we’ve decided to take a different view of what ‘new’ means for NLS6. We’re working to develop a program that is tailored for all professionals who feel like they fit somewhere in the spectrum of newness… From those who are thinking about embarking on studies in LIS, to those who have been doing information work for years but are only recently qualified as info pros, to those who have been in the profession for more than five years and are thinking about the next phase of their careers.

For the first time, NLS6 will have a stream dedicated to those professionals who still kinda feel new to the profession, but who think they’re almost ready to shed their new grad status. We’ve got some ideas for this stream, but we’d also love to hear from those of you who fall into this category. What do you need to help you set off on your next adventure?

 June 8, 2012  Posted by at 5:57 pm planning, program Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Jun 052012

We asked for your ideas, and did you ever give them to us! On the blog and on Twitter, your passion and energy (not to mention your smarts!) came through loud and clear. Not only that, the huge range of thoughtful and creative responses showed just how diverse and hungry this demographic is – hungry to be inspired, empowered, challenged and entertained. This is exactly what we want NLS6 to do for you.

So, what’s happening with all those ideas?

We nabbed every blog and Twitter response (even the tongue-in-cheek ones!) and noticed some pretty strong themes emerging. The NLS mainstays – professional skills, strategies and pathways now, and in the future – came back again and again, as well as some delicious thoughts around creativity, empowerment, and living/working/thinking at the cutting edge. Not only that, you came up with some great suggestions for specific speakers. Local heroes, international superstars, movers and shakers from all corners of the profession, and outside it; I want to invite them ALL to the NLS6 party!

Unfortunately, we now reach the hard part.

One of the big jobs for the organising committee over the next few weeks will be refining this list of awesome into a targeted, exciting, program that will bring something different to the table, and set your minds (and Twitter feeds!) alight.

Watch this space for more updates as they emerge. We tagged the call for ideas #mynls6 for a reason: this event is for you, and we will be looking for your direct input and feedback every step of the way. Stay loud. Stay opinionated. Most of all, stay passionate.


 June 5, 2012  Posted by at 9:42 pm get involved, program Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Jun 032012

When Vanessa and I first started talking about the possibility of working on NLS6, one of the first things we spoke about was the word ‘symposium’. If you trawl around the web, you’ll find lots of discussion about how conferences and symposia differ. Some of the discussion would have you thinking the difference is semantic or arbitrary. But we don’t think it is.

The Oxford English Dictionary entry for symposium unpacks the history of the term. For the ancient Greeks, a symposium was a “drinking-party; a convivial meeting for drinking, conversation, and intellectual entertainment”. That’s a description that could be applied to pretty much any conference dinner, but if you take out the drinking part, you’re left with a “convivial meeting for… conversation, and intellectual entertainment”. That’s a pretty good description of what we think makes NLS unique.

Today, a symposium might be defined as a “meeting or conference for discussion of some subject; hence, a collection of opinions delivered, or a series of articles contributed, by a number of persons on some special topic”.

While we won’t be reclining on comfy couches, over the last decade, the New Librarians’ Symposia have become renowned for the convivial atmosphere the ancient Greeks are said to have favoured. NLS is the fun event on the Australian professional development circuit, but more importantly than that, it’s a deliberately welcoming, nurturing environment designed to help new professionals find their feet and their professional identity.

You won’t hear us talk about NLS6 as a conference. And that’s simply because we don’t think it is one. The inclusion of the S word in the event’s title is no mistake. The pioneers that developed NLS envisaged a different type of event, and with its return to its home town in 2013, we’re taking NLS6 back to its roots.

NLS6 will be less formal than a conference, more focused in its content, and concerned with quality conversation, not slick presentation. There won’t be a fancy venue, a high-priced conference dinner, a dozen international superstar keynotes costing megabucks, or a hefty price tag for you, the delegate. What there will be is an awesome and action-packed program that’s tailored specifically to your needs, plenty of opportunities for networking, content that challenges you to think differently, and the very best atmosphere you’ll ever experience at this kind of event.

We can’t wait for February 2013!

 June 3, 2012  Posted by at 3:01 pm bits and pieces, planning Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Jun 012012

I’m not sure about you, but I feel like I blinked sometime around mid-January and suddenly, the year had slipped out from under me.  June is here and in the Australian LIS blogosphere, that means a whole lotta blogging coming your way.

For those of you who are new to the phenomenon that is #blogjune, you can catch up on a bit of history over at Ruminations (where it all started).

This is the third year of #blogjune, and this year, the NLS6 Organising Committee will be playing, too. While we may not blog every day, we will be blogging frequently this month. It’s a perfect opportunity for the Committee to explore what NLS means to us, and even more importantly, what it means to you. We may even have an announcement or two to make in the next 30 days!

Sign up to receive email updates, subscribe to our RSS feed or follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss a post!

 June 1, 2012  Posted by at 8:05 pm bits and pieces Tagged with: ,  No Responses »