Sunday, 29 April 2012

Discovering new goals at the Biennial!

When I began this blog post, I started writing about how wonderful it would be to see two personal and professional heroes of mine. These would be the Hon. Michael Kirby and Dr Alex Byrne. While it would still be fantastic to hear them speak, and perhaps to meet them, I am now realising that there is an even more rewarding prospect… The chance to discover new heroes!

These heroes can take almost any form, from an inspiring fellow new graduate, also just finding their own path in librarianship, to a highly experienced manager. I feel as though I can learn so much from both ends of the spectrum.

Another experience that I would love to gain from the ALIA Biennial this year is the chance to engage with information professionals from across the board of this multi-faceted industry of ours. As a law librarian, I am very interested in what is happening in other libraries and also other branches of the profession. I think that the best way to maintain an awareness of the state of my profession is to talk to, and network with, my peers.

As a relatively new graduate, I think that making sure that you are well known among your profession is very important. Not only do I want to meet lots of new people, I want lots of new people to meet me! This is also part of the reason I joined the ALIA Sydney committee. Engaging with your profession is a fantastic way to both retain your passion and to get noticed.

Having only moved to Sydney in November, I am still rebuilding and expanding my professional network. The ALIA Biennial will be the perfect chance to both meet new professionals from around Australia and Sydney, as well as catch up with old Brisbane friends.

I also harbour the desire to do some research, most likely on professionalism within librarianship, but I am at a loss as to how to begin. I would love to contribute to the body of knowledge of librarianship and the Demystifying Research: Practices and Potentials workshop would be absolutely fantastic as it would allow me to hear how a panel of professionals balanced research with work and how they approached it. The other advantage would be that I would get the chance to meet other people considering research and discuss both our reservations and aspirations.

I suppose what this post is trying to say, is that my goals for the ALIA Biennial this year is to rediscover some existing heroes, discover some new ones, and perhaps even learn how to become someone else’s hero!

Hope to see you all there!

Holger Aman

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Recap of Taking the Next Step – Transition and Networking in LIS

If you missed ALIA Sydney’s last event—Taking the Next Step – Transition and Networking in LIS on Thursday 19 April 2012—you missed a great opportunity to listen to how some LIS luminaries transitioned throughout their careers. You also missed a great opportunity to meet other Sydney area info professionals in a fun network activity.

But don’t worry! I took meticulous notes of the event just in case you couldn’t attend—or if you attended and were too busy Tweeting about our event! (You may still be able to catch the conversation on Twitter at!/search/aliasydnextstep)

Who exactly did you miss?
  • Dr Alex Byrne (NSW State Librarian and Chief Executive of the State Library)
  • Dr Suzana Sukovic (St Vincent’s College / University of Sydney)
  • snail (State Library of NSW)
  • Alyson Dalby (UNSW)

What was the format?
ALIA Sydney invited each speaker to tell us a little about themselves and their current position, highlight the hops and leaps they’ve taken in their careers and give us some sage advice on making our own transitions in the field.


Dr Alex Byrne - NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive of the State Library

Dr Alex Byrne began his talk by paying respect to the traditional custodians of the land, not as lip service but as recognition of the people, who like library and information professionals, are custodians of culture. Dr Byrne also highlighted that he studied engineering at university and made his move to libraries based on a suggestion by his wife, because “he liked books” yet no longer wanted to work in engineering.

Dr Byrne highlighted some of the different jobs he’s had in the library and university sector, including positions at the:
  • Soils Library at the University of Sydney
  • University of Canberra (then the Canberra College of Advanced Education)
  • University College of Townsville library
    • Later became the Central Services Librarian
    • Highlights include the amalgamation of the Townsville College of Advanced Education amalgamated with James Cook University
  • Defence Force Academy
  • Northern Territory University
    • Later was the Provost Chancellor
  • University of Technology, Sydney as the University Librarian/Provost Chancellor/VP for Development
    • Highlights include the transfer from print to digital, especially in journals
  • Joined IFLA in 1988
    • Academic and Research Library Section
    • In 1997 worked with the section on Free access to information and freedom of information
      • Defined the Human right to information, fight against censorship
    • President of IFLA
  • Currently is the State Librarian of New South Wales

Dr Byrne’s Advice
Dr Byrne also provided some great advice that perhaps some library professionals are wary to heed: we must seize opportunities. He stressed that librarians and library staff should seize the opportunity to move to a new location or to join a new organisation and that we shouldn’t stress “the scary”—if an opportunity doesn’t pay off, you can always move on. Finally, Dr Byrne wanted to stress that we shouldn’t burn bridges, that the people we step on today could be the people we need to appeal to tomorrow.

My Take
I have to applaud Amy C, Amy B and Crystal for securing such an amazing LIS luminary such as Dr Alex Byrne. I think most LIS professionals in Sydney and NSW have followed his career with a mingled sense of inspiration and aspiration. However, I would have loved to hear more about the difficult aspects of Dr Byrne’s transitions—family strains, the need for additional training/education, the need to constantly move employers and locations in order to climb the “library ladder,” and any failures along the way. It’s a bit difficult and overwhelming to think that there weren’t some bumps—whether large or small—along Dr Byrne’s career! Likewise, it's still pretty amazing to see the amount of hard work and dedication that has gone into his illustrious career.


Suzana Sukovic - Head of Learning Resource Centre, St Vincent’s College & Research Associate, FASS, University of Sydney

Suzana opened by asking our audience: How many different libraries have you worked in? More than three? (Which I thought was a great question. Personally, I’ve worked in public libraries, an academic library and a special library that focused on bilingual materials for American university students and Spanish learners of English). At the end of her talk, Suzana also engaged the audience with thinking about other jobs or careers outside of librarianship we have pursued.

Suzana also highlighted what she calls her “brilliant, no, meandering career” including working in:
  • Linguistics
  • Teaching
  • Journalism
  • A book shop
  • Librarianship
    • Academic Libraries
    • School Libraries
    • Special Libraries

Her library career also meandered:
  • Suzana moved to Australia (during a recession)
    • Fischer Library at the University of Sydney for 13 years
    • Started in Technical Services (as she had foreign library qualifications) but eventually moved to Informational Services
  • Obtained a Master’s degree in librarianship
    • Had a baby
  • Left University of Sydney for a PhD program (including a scholarship)
    • Worked as a tutor
    • Went from a full time librarian position to full time student
  • Currently has a dual role:
    • Head of Learning Resource Centre, St Vincent’s College
    • Research Associate, FASS, University of Sydney

Suzana’s Advice
Suzana really wanted to get one point across: that we should focus on what really matters to us. To Suzana, meandering meant having a meaningful career while having and caring for a child, obtaining a Master’s degree and completing a PhD. Her meandering career also meant having confidence on being employable and not dependent on any one organisation. No matter where we are in our careers—whether we’re starting out as new librarians or if we are seasoned veterans looking to transition to something different—her advice is the same: go out in your career, meet people and learn from them.

If you are trying to transition into a new field, Suzana advises that you have a look at yourself and your past to really see what your strengths are. While doing so, don’t focus so much on your personality (deep down, aren’t we all just introverts?). Instead, focus on attitude: how you can do a specific job, how you can use previous skills and experience in a new setting, or how you will stretch yourself in a new environment. Suzana reminds us that managers expect you to do something new—that’s why they hired you!

My Take
Perhaps because I see my own career path in Suzana’s, I found her talk especially worthwhile. I think her message that LIS professionals should have confidence in their skills and being employable—while not depending on any one organisation for a job or validation of our skills—is extremely important and valid. I think that no matter where we are in our careers or organisations, we should be building those skills that we can transfer to another library type or to another field altogether.


snail – Librarian at the State Library of New South Wales

As snail puts it, he has worked for the “dark side” of the library world—library vendors. Having spent some time in a few different libraries, snail most recently left his position at Gale Australia for a two-year contract at the State Library of New South Wales. He went into librarianship after spending literally a decade in university (something about computer science…), finishing his qualifications in librarianship at the University of New South Wales.

snail provided a brief summary of his LIS career:
  • Cadetship at the New South Wales Parliamentary Library
    • Contracting / law / computer stuff / legislation
  • Public libraries
    • Although not natural in the public library environment, he did build the first website for his public library
  • Registered with Zenith
    • Secured a 3 month contract in database support and training at the State Library of New South Wales
    • Spent 19 months on 3 month contracts
  • Electronic Solutions Consultant at Gale Australia
  • Currently is a Librarian with the State Library of New South Wales
    • Focusing on digital assets

Although he spent 7 years on the “dark side,” snail highlights that working in corporate “librarianship” definitely had its benefits. He says it was one of the best jobs he ever had where he not only got to build a functional library from scratch (and passed accreditation!) and supported the migration of Gale content (and metadata records) to the National Library of Australia’s Trove resource, he also worked with many librarians (did you know Gale employs more librarians than any single library in the world?). snail also wanted to highlight the importance of staying in touch with the “real library world” by being a part of ALIA and other library committees, which Gale supported.

snail’s Advice
Don’t be afraid of challenges! Having worked in both the corporate and library world, snail knows that each sector has its own challenges. However, as his career summary shows, all those challenges build your career. Likewise, don’t automatically exclude the corporate world when searching for your first or next job. The benefits can be great (better pay, tons of travel, more freebies) and you can still work with the library sector.

My Take
While I don’t necessarily see myself in the corporate world (I’ve been there before), snail does make a good case for having a look if you are in the market for a new job.


Alyson Dalby, University of New South Wales

It’s possible that Alyson Dalby has seen more sectors within the library profession than your average librarian: special libraries, library associations, library vendors and academic libraries. Most recently, she transitioned from a library vendor to the University of New South Wales library. In a departure from our first three speakers, Alyson focused on a specific job and the pros and cons of that job and/or sector.

Special Libraries: Medical History Library & Institute of Chartered Accountants
  • Able to develop strong subject expertise
  • Able to develop deeper client relationships
  • Freedom—if you’re a solo librarian, you just do it
  • Small staff numbers—you get to do more things
  • Subject specialisation—no generalisation in terms of subject
  • Small, limited and defined user base
  • Not necessarily the best place to develop a long-term career—limited career path (reason for leaving the Medical History Library)
  • If you’re a solo librarian, it can get lonely
  • Lack of professional contact—no one to ask how to do things
  • First year in a subject specialist you have no idea what people are talking about
  • Limiting in terms of moving up the “library ladder”—there’s no where to move up
  • Money is tight because it’s so small—constant fears of the library shutting down
  • Lack of job security
Library Association: ALIA NSW Local Liaison officer & ALIA NSW State Manager
Started an MBA program
  • Treated differently (better?) and different obligations
  • ALIA’s name opens a lot of doors
  • Excellent opportunities to network
  • Perks to conferences and events
  • Feel like you are contributing to the entire profession
  • Understanding of the profession improved
  • ALIA’s name can close doors—not everyone is a fan
  • Difficult to explain ALIA policies
  • Held accountable for actions over which you have no control
  • ALIA has to raise money—and everyone has an idea on how to make it
  • Everyone has an idea how ALIA should spend money
Library Vendor: InSync Surveys, Part-time & Full-time
Finished MBA degree and went full-time
  • Had a project manager role running client and staff satisfaction surveys working exclusively with libraries
  • Great networking opportunities throughout libraries
  • Opportunities to work with a variety of people
  • Flexibility in job—could work from home
  • Good pay
  • Good perks—ability to travel, conference opportunities
  • Work is hard and long
  • Work needs to be done, no matter what—no time in lieu or flexibility time
  • Even though you get to go to conferences, that doesn’t mean you get to participate
  • Market forces affect your job—your department has to make money
  • You have to work at being a librarian—ALIA and committee work a necessity
  • Librarians tend to fear talking to vendors—they don’t want an accidental sales pitch
Academic Library: University of New South Wales
Since Alyson just started this position this past week, all she could express was the relief of people knowing what she did and who she did it before without explanation. Her first real benefit of this library sector are the potential career development opportunities. 

It’s important to mention that Alyson completed an MBA while working part-time for both ALIA and InSync Surveys. She went full-time at InSync Surveys upon completion of her degree.

Alyson’s Advice
With all her experience in cross-sectoral transitions, Alyson had some great advice for LIS professionals looking to move between sectors. Her biggest piece of advice is that some sectors are harder to get into and some sectors are harder to transfer into. Her example are academic libraries—which can be hard to get into at first—but once you’ve worked for a large academic library, it’s much easier to move to a smaller library, such as a public library. However, if you start out at a small public or special library, it’s harder to move into a large academic library. If you are looking to transition into a private company, it’s a must to register with a recruitment company (such as Zenith or Umbrella One), as they can provide guidance (in terms of updating your CV or interview advice) as well as job leads and short-term contracts.
Most importantly, if you’re trying to transition between library sectors, you must be able to demonstrate that your skills and your experiences are transferable—i.e., change your language from clients to customers.
My Take
I think Alyson did a great job of breaking down her transitions and what she had to do to transition. I’m also grateful for a good run of the pros and cons of all the different sectors she’s worked in.


Network Time
We ended the night with a short (too short! I wish we had more time to network!) structured networking activity. I have to admit that I do love structured networking. Even though I push myself out of my introverted safety zone, a networking activity does make it much easier for me to go up and meet people I may not have spoken to if left to my own devices.

I got to speak to two library technicians who were either thinking about doing a library qualification or in the middle of finishing it. They had inspirational passion for what they were doing, however, they also had some doubts as to going into librarianship amidst change within the profession and institutional funding. Since I am such a champion of libraries, I hope I motivated them into not automatically labelling themselves with the title of "librarian" or "library" but instead think of what they want to do--one woman wanted to focus on helping the community, the gentleman wanted to continue teaching tech skills and building tech awareness. I think defining our career first by what we actually want to do is a better starting point than defining ourselves by a type of library or librarian. If my passion is helping the community in terms of programs as well as helping individuals find information, that can be anything from a public librarian, to a programs administrator to an academic outreach librarian. Teaching technical skills can lead to a school librarian or a user education librarian in a public library or a instructional services librarian in an academic library.

I also got the opportunity to speak to two faculty liaison librarians from UNSW. I finally had a chance to ask what that kind of librarian does! I learned that the traditional subject librarian has been split in two--the  duties that revolve with outreach to specific departments, faculty and graduate students lies with faculty liaison librarians. 

I also got a chance to add 4 new business cards to my collection--but it really means that I've added four new nodes to my LIS network.

A special thanks to Amy Croft, Amy Barker and Crystal Choi for organising this event!

- Jeff
Jeff Cruz is a User Education Librarian and an Events Officer for the ALIA Sydney Committee. Follow me on Twitter at @jncruzAll of the information and views expressed are solely my own, and do not reflect those of my employer or any other organisation.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Meet another committee member

 Hi. I am Vikki Bell, and many of you will have seen my name in correspondence from the ALIA Sydney group. My role as part of the committee is to assist our event officers with the administrative side of things. I am one of those introverts that Amy mentioned in her last blog post, ‘tho now I am sure there are less of us around after our recent event.

Outside of ALIA Sydney I am Principal of Bellinform Research, where I take on diverse library related (and not so library related) projects. As an intrinsically shy person I find it interesting that a great deal of my work involves speaking, running workshops, training and facilitation. In this capacity I will running a workshop on using LinkedIn at the Imbase Intelligent Information Symposium on May 3rd.  I hope to meet some of you there!

I would be interested in hearing from librarians using LinkedIn – the why, and the how, and any benefits you may have gained. ALIA Sydney has a LinkedIn group – just look for us in the Groups directory, hit the JOIN button, and perhaps create or contribute to a discussion.

In addition to our face to face events, we will again be featuring the “Blog every day in June” event. If you are interested in contributing a piece (even shy people can shine at this!), or writing on a topic you are passionate about please contact the committee via . We would particularly like to hear from those of you who attended “From little things big things grow” event last October (summarised here), tell us how you have been contributing to the profession, or even what is holding you back.

It’s the weekend, having given you some additional chores (comment on LinkedIn, join ALIA Sydney group, volunteer for a guest blog) I won’t take up any more of your time - thank you for reading, and responding!


Monday, 16 April 2012

Are library and information people too shy to network?

Since reading Vassiliki Veros' interesting post on librarian stereotypes, I've been thinking about some of the 'typical' traits of people who work in the library and information industry. One of these is shyness. In Myers-Briggs terms, librarians are INFJs- the 'I' standing for 'introvert'.

I'm the first to admit, it doesn't come naturally to me to put myself forward, or actively promote myself. But usually when I do, I'm rewarded- with a new job, with interesting conversations, or with opportunities to swap ideas. And with practice, it feels more natural.

This is why I'm so excited to be helping to organise this month's ALIA Sydney event Taking the Next Step - Transition and Networking in LIS. It's a chance to hear some inspiring stories about changing careers from LIS luminaries in our profession - Dr Alex Byrne, Dr Suzana Sukovic, snail, and Alyson Dalby.

Then there's a perfect opportunity for us shy and not-so-shy folks to take the next step, meet some new people and build our networks. There are still places available, so RSVP to You'll then be asked to complete a short online survey about your interests, which will make it easier for you to find others who are interested in similar areas.

Don't forget to bring your business cards, to swap details with your new network, and to enter the draw for a fabulous prize pack. If you're like me and don't have a work business card, make your own. There are free templates to use with various software or Google Docs, or a few I've put together as a starting point which you can edit in WordOr start your own - the standard size in Australia is 90mm x 55mm - try using a striking image (free public domain images), and print on thick paper (eg 350 gsm).

Be creative, have fun, try not to spend too long! I look forward to meeting you on Thursday.
Amy Croft

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Facing the future and playing while you're at it

This is a great white paper that I wanted to share with you that came out as today's Library Link of the Day, on the future of academic libraries and how libraries can innovate and become entrepreneurial on the journey to the future.  (Love the telescope metaphor as a way to bring the future closer!)
Think Like A Startup: a white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism [Brian Mathews]
Some sobering 'what if' scenarios for academic libraries are covered in section one, but Brian Matthews goes on to encourage libraries to 'think like a startup' enterprise. Some of these ideas that Matthews covers are similar to ideas that were brought up at a 'Fastbreak' event that I went along to recently- taking risks, learning from mistakes, failing fast and failing smart, finding innovation and creative ideas through play and being passionate about what you do.  The Fastbreak events are 5 minutes talks by entreprenuers who give these talks over breakfast at the Powerhouse Museum. TheFastbreak event that I went along to, centred around the idea of 'play' and maintaining fun in your life to bring forth creativity and innovation.

To return briefly to the white paper, Matthews highlights some inspiring ideas, and even goes on to mention 3D printing, which I got first hand experience of, at the Powerhouse Museum Fastbreak talks.  I even got to take home a souvenir that was printed out using a 3D printer. It's just a little plastic cylinder, but to me it speaks volumes. It's kind of like a symbol which reminds me of all of the ideas that I gleaned from attending the Fastbreak talks.  It's really good to hold in your hand and play with, so whenever I look at it, or hold it, it reminds me to try to be a bit more creative and innovative in all the things that I could be doing. This article on bringing 3D printing to libraries and turning libraries into community hackerspaces blew my mind a little while ago- it just seemed so out there, and so amazingly incredible- but maybe this is the direction that libraries are turning towards?

3D printed cylinder: 

Some things I took away from the Fastbreak 'Play' talks (besides the printed cylinder):
- We need to re-think how we run business and organisations - play leads to creativity, creativity leads to good ideas and good ideas lead to innovation
- Think about applying the play philosophy or mindset that you get into when you travel, apply it to to everyday life and see what comes of it
- Reward bravery!
- Innovation is about thinking about things from someone else's viewpoint
- Play is imperative to practical problem solving
- Have fun so you can do better in your professional life

And let me lastly leave you with some big ideas gleaned from Matthew's white paper:

- Strive to change the profession
- Don't just copy and paste from other libraries: invent!
- Focus on relationship building
- Build a strategic culture, not a strategic plan 
- Aim for epiphanies

In the famous words of Steve Jobs (and now Brian Matthews) how can libraries 'dent the universe' and be 'insanely great'?

Thanks should also go to my library colleagues Chris Boyd and Samantha Hutchinson for sharing some of the links I've included in this blog post. Don't you just love professional dialogue and collegial discussion? I do!

Matthews, B. (2012). Think like a startup: A white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism. Retrieved from:

~ Crystal Choi

Crystal is ALIA Sydney Convenor, works as a Faculty Liaison Librarian at the University of Sydney and tweets @crystalibrary. All thoughts and opinions expressed are her own.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Homeless and in the library?

Hi everyone! Heather here. 

I have had a couple of run ins lately with some of our resident homeless people at my library. We of course have an open door policy and give all our customers the same treatment regarding service, welcoming and space. It is not until there is an issue with behaviour or being somehow disruptive to staff or other patrons that our open door policy is challenged. This is all in a general sense and applies to all customers and the policy is not documented as such, just understood among my co-workers. I believe we should have some formal guidelines at least and am becoming more inspired to document them myself, to not only back up my staff, but also to protect the rights of our users.
The issue I have had lately is one where some aggression was shown and threats were made by one of our regular library daytime residents. Conversations around how we should deal with the issue included comments such as ‘obviously this person has issues’ or ‘obviously this person is homeless,’ which made me think, if it’s so obvious, why don’t we try to do something positive to help this person rather than banning them from the library?
I began to do a little research on the incidence of homeless people using the library as a daytime refuge and what other libraries are doing to welcome them and form a relationship with them. Some of the positive actions libraries are taking include:
·         Classes in using pcs, writing job applications and searching for jobs
·         Employing staff to advise where assistance may be found
·         Running book clubs or movie viewings for the homeless
·         Employing them to shelve books or tidy the shelves
I also read some awful comments from some librarians saying that the homeless ‘should not be encouraged’ to use the library and that it ‘isn’t the librarians role’ to deal with them. While dealing with the homeless is not something that is specifically taught in any training courses that I have seen, dealing with people in general is the librarians role. It seems the attitude of some is to forget that the homeless are people.
A colleague of mine has done some volunteer work and has dealt a lot with people who are homeless. Some of his tips for managing problem situations include adopting an informal, ‘blokey,’ non threatening way to address them for men, and for women adopting a motherly tone and personalising the interaction to diffuse a situation. I myself have always found listening and talking to people like adults, with understanding and respect works to diffuse difficult situations with all kinds of people, from teenagers to the elderly and all in between.
Does your library offer any services to the homeless as a particular group? Do you have a written policy addressing homelessness in the library? Have you had any training in managing the behaviour of difficult customers? Would you be inclined to run classes or book clubs targeting this particular group?
Here are a couple of links I found handy in my search:

See also the Footpath Library if you are interested in volunteering yourself.


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Innovation in the Library and Beyond, a 20x20 Event

Innovation in the Library and beyond, a 20x20 event by ALIA Sydney was a resounding success (if we do say so ourselves).  It was set in the theatrette in the lovely Waverly Library at Bondi Junction and was almost completely sold out.  It was fantastic seeing this many people from all walks of the profession being involved in such an important topic. From seasoned managers, through to new graduates like myself, there was something for everyone. The 20x20 format ensured that there was an abundance of content that could be absorbed and acted upon by everyone from special librarians, through public, to academic librarians (and everyone in between).

While I must admit I was apprehensive about the format (in which each presenter speaks to 20 slides that are displayed for 20 seconds each), I think that it suited the topic very well. It allowed the event to have incredible diversity and therefore very wide relevance. The most impressive thing about the event however, was the way in which the speakers engaged with the both the format and the audience. I also have to give the great organising committee the recognition they deserve for choosing their speakers with an eye to both content and style. The dynamic format gave the event a really exciting and proactive feel, which suited the theme of innovation perfectly.

The speakers were all from different backgrounds and spoke on different topics, which kept the audience engaged and interested in all of them!

Jemima McDonald from UTS kicked off the evening with a fun introduction to UTS’s induction program for new students to their library. It was a very playful approach, full of games, treasure hunts and face painting that emphasised the friendliness of their library and tricked the new students into learning some information literacy while having a great time. I got the impression that UTS library does a great job of breaking down barriers between students and staff, ensuring that they are approachable while still being authoritative enough to provide trustworthy advice.

Next was Michael Gonzales from UWS. Michael not only brought some fresh and naughty ideas about management to the event but also some sensational baking. Michael’s approach to management and baked goods shared many similarities and differences: he was willing to get into a bit of trouble by sometimes acting before asking (or biting before counting calories) but his approach to management was definitely more about long term fulfillment than eating one of his delicious chocolate covered caramel slices which were all about the moment! Michael was very focused on grassroots leadership and using this to connect staff across all levels. It was a cheeky, thought provoking and tasty presentation!

Karina Libbey was the first of the non-librarians to speak. Karina is in fact one of the driving forces behind the Jurassic Lounge at the Australian Museum, though her approach to public space is anything but prehistoric. Karina’s presentation focused on targeting non-traditional user groups and demographics, something that is becoming more and more of an issue for libraries today. Hearing an event organiser’s approach to this sort of thing was definitely intriguing, and I think I saw a few eyes opening wider around me at some of her points. Her use of social media to directly engage clients during events was quite inspiring to me!

Estee Wah’s discussion on technology in the Powerhouse Museum was illuminating and very forward-looking. Her ideas about the use of RFID technology and mobile devices to add value to exhibits was incredibly intriguing and I thought it could be a great way to integrate physical and electronic material in libraries. Estee’s use of technology to promote information literacy was very elegantly conveyed with the saying “give a man a fish vs teach a man to fish”. I think this demonstrated Estee and her team’s new approach to a very old question. Estee’s goal seemed to be to ensure that the visitors to the Powerhouse Museum experience didn’t end when they left the physical museum. She was committed to using technology to push information out, ensuring that the museum’s content could follow visitors home.

Fiona Bradley conveyed her passion for the advancement of the cause of libraries around the world through her video presentation on advocacy through storytelling. This was both an uplifting and very forward-looking presentation as it focused on the ways in libraries can show their impact. The struggle for libraries to prove tangible results in the KPI driven world of today is always important. Fiona’s approach goes back to our roots (with stories) in order to save our future. Our compelling stories are our successes as well as the means of demonstrating them. The stories and people in our libraries are our real strengths and Fiona’s presentation highlighted the ways in which their stories can be used. These stories can also be ways of showing our similarities and learning from each other. It was very heartfelt presentation, even through video.

Another ‘up late’ series that I desperately want to start attending is the City of Sydney’s Late Night Library. Hugh Nichols, the main push behind these events came and discussed getting it up, running and successful. I really enjoyed Hugh’s rough and ready approach to his events, with the main driver being passion, rather than bureaucracy. The rough around the edges feel that Hugh seemed to give his events made them come across as really approachable and fun. Definitely a feeling that we want in libraries… Especially public ones. Hugh’s events seemed to revolve around community and inclusivity, which are also very important aspects of our public libraries. I was quite happy to hear Hugh’s main goal was to increase people’s use of the library and satisfaction rather than emphasise statistics!

Maureen Kattau and Fiona Burton’s presentation was full of great ideas and positive views. Maureen and Fiona are the Liaison Services Manager (Social Sciences & Humanities) and the Associate University Librarian, Resources from Macquarie University and they were discussing the ‘virtual bookshelf’. This virtual bookshelf allows the resources behind their OPAC to be more accessible for browsing. Not only was their use of technology innovative and completely client centered, by balancing the need to keep material in their new Automated Retrieval Collection but also satisfying client’s desire to browse, they showed an inspiring level of collaboration between resource services and client services. This harmony among teams in the library is just as important as technological innovation and was showcased very well by Maureen and Fiona. Even though only Maureen ended up presenting, it felt like a fantastic melding of both technical and user services.

Shaun O’Dwyer and Kylie Bailin sparked our imaginations by throwing that old stalwart of librarianship out… Their presentation focused on the new desk-less service model in their library at UNSW. Replacing the service desk with a new dynamic Help Zone/roving librarian model not only breaks down physical barriers between librarians and students, it also allowed UNSW library to maximize the space available to them. This space was taken back by replacing the ‘dead space’ with couches and student friendly facilities such as self-checkout machines and student PCs. It has also allowed the library to be more flexible in regards to their staffing arrangements, which is always a plus. Another interesting part of Shaun and Kylie’s presentation was their emphasis on the continual monitoring and improvement of their project, which is an important part of any new aspect of librarianship.

All in all, it was a sensational evening and continued the trend of high quality events, attended by wonderful people. I especially enjoyed the networking opportunities after the presentations.

I hope to see everyone at our April event: Taking the Next Step.

Always a pleasure.

Holger Aman

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

April Event: Taking the Next Step

Hi! My name's Amy Croft. I'm the Library Manager at the Sydney campus of CQUniversity, and joined the ALIA Sydney Committee this year as a Coordinator. I've mostly worked in academic libraries (after my first shelving and Library Assistant jobs in public libraries) and have long been intrigued by the similarities and differences between the various types of libraries and information services.

I often see job ads which specifically ask for experience in that type of library, which can give the impression that Library and Information Science (LIS) workers should stick with just one type throughout their career. But whenever I speak to others in this industry, I'm struck by how much we all have in common. I strongly suspect that we all share fundamental qualities, skills and knowledge that are transferable across the LIS industry.

I'm proud to be helping to organise the next ALIA Sydney event, which will explore how some high profile LIS professionals have made career changes, and will also be a great opportunity to network with people from different parts of the sector. Check out the details below, and RSVP early to ensure your place:

ALIA Sydney Presents: Taking the Next Step - Transition and Networking in LIS

Ever thought about changing roles within the LIS sector or switching to another type of library or information service, and wondered how others have done it?
Ever wanted to form a professional network, but not sure how to get started, or you just want to expand your existing network?

This month's ALIA Sydney event is the answer!

First, an impressive line-up of speakers will share their insights into how they have managed major transitions during their careers.

Speakers include:
Dr Alex Byrne (NSW State Librarian and Chief Executive of the State Library)
Dr Suzana Sukovic (St Vincent’s College)
snail (State Library)
Alyson Dalby (UNSW – forthcoming)

After being inspired by our speakers you will have a unique opportunity to connect with your LIS peers to discuss common interests and walk away with an instant network – take the next step and build your network to bounce ideas around, start collaborations, or share advice.

Date: Thursday 19 April
Time: 6.30pm (for a 7.00pm start) – 9.00pm
Venue: Waverley Library Theatrette (Level 1)
32-48 Denison St
Bondi Junction
Cost: $7 members, $10 Non Members (Pay at the door. It would be wonderful if you could bring the correct change on the night.)
Places are strictly limited so please RSVP your attendance by emailing


View Larger Map

Getting there:
A short walk from Bondi Junction station (on Eastern Suburbs line), head towards the City along Oxford St and turn left on to Denison St.
Parking is available beneath the library via Ebley St, free for the first 1.5 hours. Bike racks are available outside the Library.

Bring your business card (or make one- some tips on how will be here on the ALIA Sydney blog soon) to enter the draw for a fabulous prize pack!