A guest post from Hiba Kanj, National Convener - ALIA Students and New Graduates Group
Students and new graduates were not the only people in the crowds to kick off the first day of the ALIA Conference Student and New Graduates Stream on Tuesday 16 September 2014. Many of the sessions available throughout the day were so popular were so popular that anyone who arrived late only had standing room as all seats were occupied by keen attendees.
Prior to the session starting, we encouraged our attendees to think about their Library and Information Services profession and where they see it in 5 to 10 years time or what they liked most about our profession. We received varied responses and it was very inspiring to see positive messages about our profession.
Some of the key messages participants took away from the day centered on exploring our expectations of our jobs/careers versus the professional reality of what we do. We discussed some of the following questions: do librarians really read on the job? Is technology the biggest concern for librarians who come into the profession?
Utilising mentoring and extending on personal learning networks (PLN) was a prominent message that new graduates discussed as being important in the profession. New grads were encouraged to extend their PLN through Twitter, as it allows for the development of fantastic networks and allows them to grow into social relations with shared interests, ideas and values. This type of PLN is particularly useful for those studying regionally, abroad, have day-to-day work/life commitments or who are studying online.
Another significant point highlighted throughout the day was recognising as librarians working in broader community settings, we are essentially in the business of developing networks and building capacity in communities in which we work. We were challenged to ask ourselves, what are our skills? How can we apply them widely across a variety of sectors and areas? How can we extend our skills and challenge ourselves by volunteering or moving around, even overseas? The idea of recognising and developing interchangeable, transferrable skills and interpersonal skills is crucial if we are to make our experiences work for us as much as we are working for our profession.
So how can a student and new graduate use their leadership skills effectively everyday? Lee Bess and Michellle Coxsen summed this up nicely and this acted as a wonderful point of reference for new graduates navigating the library and information profession. Their 10-point plan successfully outlines achievable goals and attitude to do from home and work.
It was an absolute pleasure to co-chair this stream, meet the incredible speakers who worked hard to deliver excellent papers and the participants who came along and made this event spectacular with their contributions.
From librarians at bars, librarians in the remote Northern Territory across sectors, online learning and librarians travelling to Papua New Guinea and Vietnam, the stream had me thinking about leadership, PLNs, networking, building capacity in the community and looking at mentoring from a new perspective. This rewarding experience has encouraged me to get back to work enthused and inspired for the challenges ahead.