• 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
Oct 022012

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.

 October 2, 2012  Posted by at 1:00 pm get involved Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Aug 012012

I had the privilege of participating in the New Librarians’ Symposium in Perth last September. It was a privilege for me as such forums provide access to an interested, motivated audience who are eager to access wisdom. Therefore as a presenter I have a real responsibility to provoke, entertain, inform and create an intellectual ‘conflict commons’ around particular subjects.

Steve McQuade’s comments about passivity. Right on the ball. Workshops, presentations, discussions, etc that are forcefully interactive are required. Having just run a rapid fire ‘intellectual speed dating’ type of workshop with my LINC personnel last Friday, I can attest to this method as a sure fire way of getting answers, innovations, leadership thinking and getting some serious ‘elephants in the room’ out there to deal with.

I present and engage with audiences quite regularly. I’m not perfect but my wisdom to share is this … imagine you were being paid to present, that your income relied upon it … treat the audience as clients who have paid good money to attend, participate, engage … presentation style is 50% of the equation, 50% is the content provided or generated by the engagement process … your aim is to leave the audience with a memory that will carry beyond a conference program.


I would also encourage evidence based presentations. What is meant here, is provide some kind of evidencial backup to statements made or reference some research undertaken somewhere in the world for your theme. I will  remember to the day I die, something said at the NLS5 last year by a presenter who went before me, that I couldn’t resist using in my subsequent presentation. They said ‘I don’t know know anyone who doesn’t like libraries’! This was a personal opinion and effectively a personal value statement and not underpinned by evidence and statistical information as to the engagement of Libraries by the Australian public. Please back up what you say with research, evidence and honest experience.

Lastly, I would say it is perfectly ok to utilise creative conflict and some provocation to elicit new ideas, perspectives and leadership outcomes … comfort doesn’t bring innovation; dissonance, challenge and pulling down sacred bulls and sacred cows does.

Challenge me!



Garry W Conroy-Cooper is the leader of the Launceston LINC [Learning &Information Network Centre] of LINC Tasmania | www.linc.tas.gov.au | He leads a team of almost 40 permanent staff, 110 fixed term contractors and almost 270 volunteers.

Garry has government and private sector experience across the library, archives, record, document management and recruitment areas and is a practising artist and believes strongly in the use of creativity as a business development approach. He has a reputation for being an ‘agent provocateur’ within our industry, whether challenging existing paradigms, driving cultural change,  using diverse leadership styles and questioning out of date value systems.

Jul 082012

For me, NLS is an important date on the ALIA calendar as it provides an opportunity for new librarians to have their first formal conference experience…either as an attendee, presenter or even as part of the organising committee. I presented my first (and to date, only) conference paper at NLS in 2008. While I was probably on the outer limit of being considered a new graduate, convening the 2011 symposium back to back with the ALIA National Library & Information Technicians Conference and to develop a conference that represented my vision for NLS was too good an opportunity to pass up.

My observation of previous symposia, and conferences in general, is that they are far too passive and as such we tried to develop a program that balanced presentations with practical workshops to ensure delegates returned to their libraries with a wider range of skills than they came with. To me a new librarian is someone who has had 3-5 years of professional experience at most, as opposed to the definition at the time which was up to 10 years! Another intention of incorporating workshops therefore was to encourage and challenge new librarians to gain new skills that might help them to move towards taking the next steps in their careers, become our new generation of leaders and managers and making their next conference one of the mainstream ALIA conferences.

I believe that the alignment of NLS6 with Information Online will continue to encourage new librarians to develop in their careers. Online has traditionally been well attended by new librarians and the focus on innovative technologies is in line with how libraries are and should be developing. Online also provides the opportunity for new librarians to develop connections with existing leaders and managers in the profession, a definite advantage of this model over the traditional symposium.

I look forward to seeing NLS6 take shape and providing the opportunity for new librarians to experience two of the most innovative events that ALIA presents.


Steve is currently the Manager, Library Services at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia and was the convenor for NLS5.  He has previously worked in public libraries and the State Library of WA where among other things he was heavily involved in their Graduate Program.  Steve has also been a member of the ALIA NGAC. Steve’s passions in libraries are people and new technologies and is all about encouraging and mentoring people to take their next steps in their career and to be receptive to change.


 July 8, 2012  Posted by at 11:01 am bits and pieces Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Jul 032012

Learn something new every day.

Never say Never   – Opportunity is everywhere and NLS is often a place to encourage creative thinking, and thinking big for our profession

Our Profession is Very Small.  Form long-term friendships to get you though your career.  Realise that senior people are really human, have feelings, and are not scary.  Figure out what you can do for them, rather than criticizing and expecting them to do it all for you.

Take the lead – and the leadership.  How can you lead from the position you are currently in.  Volunteer for ALIA, volunteer for a special project, return to extra study (not necessarily in librarianship).

Learn where you get your ideas from.  Ensure you have thinking space in your life  on a regular basis to ensure time and space for ideas generation, planning and thinking about the exhicution strategies for your great ideas.

Take a risk, make a change, learn about how to ‘Be professional – In a Profession’.

Learn about the Business of Libraries – vendors, money, demonstrating value.

Understand that there will be disappointments but don’t sweat the small stuff.


I’ll be passing on a few more personal and professional insights a little closer to the 2013 event.  In the meantime – start getting yourself organised to attend (don’t leave it ‘till the last minute), start saving, begin to put your case together to put forward to your employer to receive support, request leave from work in advance, submit your abstract and get ready to enjoy Brisbane in the Summer!

Sue Hutley   suehutley@gmail.com   http://au.linkedin.com/pub/sue-hutley/6/95/b8a

 July 3, 2012  Posted by at 8:56 pm bits and pieces Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Jul 032012

 What does NLS mean to you?

For me, NLS is about our identity as new librarians. It is a forum for developing our own ideas of who we are as new librarians; where we fit in to the industry, where our unique strengths lie, and what common challenges and barriers we need to overcome. It is also a safe place where we can have a voice and share ideas as new librarians. We can express our frustrations without fear of condescension from our peers, and celebrate our limited experience and knowledge as a starting point to develop and grow.

When I attended NLS3 in 2006, I was only three months into my first librarian role. I had plenty of preconceived notions of what being a librarian was all about – all of which were swiftly debunked!

Coming to NLS in was an opportunity to meet many other librarians in the formative years of their career. Some of them were in a similar position as I, whilst others were a little more experienced, but still new enough to be able to understand the issues and provide peer support in overcoming challenges. It was also a chance to network and meet the “big-wigs” of the Austalian industry who have taken an interest in the future generation of librarians – people like Roxanne Missingham, Alan Smith, Alex Byrne, Helen Partridge and Graham Black.

Similarly, NLS4 in 2008 was particularly focused on unique barriers that new librarians face in the industry and, again, provided a forum for sharing our experiences and discussing strategies for overcoming them. It also turned an eye to the future of the industry, and the changing role that we will be playing, as librarians of the future, with keynotes from visionary thinkers such as Erik and Jaap from DOK, Delft, and Mark Pesce.

Each of these events have been utterly inspiring for me as a new librarian. They’ve been a boost to my enthusiasm for the industry, and a time to get excited about the possible futures of the industry, and the roles that we can play in it. They’ve been a place to not only think about my identity as a new librarian, but also find my tribe within the librarian community – colleagues and friends with whom I continue to share successes, work through challenges, and re-energise whenever my enthusiasm for the industry wanes.

Why did you get involved with NLS

I commenced my first job as a qualified librarian in September 2006 and, right from the start, I was keen to get involved in the ALIA New Graduates community. The NGG e-list was quite different back then, before everybody had a blog. It was *the* place to find library job listings, but it was also a vibrant forum for issues in the library industry. Discussion was plentiful, insightful and occasionally heated. There was a lot of online buzz leading up to NLS 2006 in December, and I was keen to meet many of the faces behind the names. Then, a call was put out for a couple of new graduates to participate in the “Great Debate” that opened the symposium. I put my hand up, and found myself on a team with Kay Harris and Roxanne Missingham. We won, of course.

Following NLS2006, I stayed in touch with many of the people I met, one of whom was Tania Barry, the NLS4 convenor. I found that we were very much on the same wavelength with our experiences and passion for the library industry, and when she asked me if I wanted to get involved in the committee in 2007, I jumped at the opportunity to join the team as the marketing coordinator. The theme was “Breaking Barriers”, looking at the barriers that exist in the progression of our careers, our profession, and the industry. These were all issues that I’d been blogging about at the time, from my perspective as a new librarian, and the opportunity to create an event that framed these issues within the inspired model of the New Librarians Symposium felt like the most valuable contribution that I could make to the industry, as a new librarian myself. That, and it was also a good excuse for a party in Melbourne.

How would you like to see NLS develop?

One of the biggest strengths of NLS is that, as a symposium, it has the flexibility to deviate from the traditional models of professional conference events. It’s not just about librarians getting up onto the podium and talking for 30 minutes with a powerpoint slideshow, whilst everybody takes notes (and tweets to each other). It also has panel sessions, workshops, debates, and forums. I’m a big fan of these kinds of interactive events, and getting delegates as involved in the sharing of ideas as possible, and I’d like to see this happen more. I also think that NLS can definitely be a safe space for really speaking one’s mind, and getting to the crux of the issues that can be so crippling for many new librarians. I’d like to see NLS create forums for more heated debate on the more controversial topics, which I’ll admit isn’t the easiest thing to do, but with the right kind of moderation to keep things on-topic and respectful, Tony Jones style, we can whip up some lively discussion that will keep us thinking for months afterward.

NLS is also unique in that it provides many new graduates to gain experience in delivering their first conference paper, and build their confidence in public speaking. However, this can often be a weakness to the program. I’d like to see NLS develop a more enforced peer review process, but with a difference. It wouldn’t be as a way of critiquing and questioning the validity of the paper, but more as a way of mentoring and supporting first-time presenters in building papers and presentations that are informed and interesting to the audience, and ensuring that presenters are well-prepared to deliver a first-class presentation on the day. I would also like to see a more interactive element brought to conference papers, incorporating a panel discussion and Q&A to papers, where speakers can drastically expand and debate the issues in their presentation.


Andrew Finegan is currently the acting Community Development Librarian at the City of Boroondara. He was the Marketing Coordinator at NLS4 and has also volunteered for ALIA with the New Graduates Group, Top End Group, and New Generation Advisory Committee. He tweets as @librarianidol.

 July 3, 2012  Posted by at 11:44 am bits and pieces Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
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 »