Our post today comes from Charmaine, she's from Melbourne and has some advice for Library students. You can follow her on twitter @kaykataj -Caitlin Williams
I’m Charm, a 27 year-old zine maker and qualified library technician, who’s currently undertaking Bachelor of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University. I’m also a keen volunteer worker. Why volunteering? Because my resume looked rather bland, entry-level jobs were hard to come by, and I thought that it’d help me understand the industry I was studying to get into.
I started as a library assistant at the Athenaeum Library in 2010, mid-way through my Diploma of Library Services course (BHI). There, I gained experience in the basics; circulation desk work, covering, shelf-reading, preparing for events, as well as the handling and care of old books.
In 2011, I started volunteering in reader services at Vision Australia Information Library Services in Kooyong, with a large and ever-changing collection of audio books, braille and large print material. There I learned about the sheer range of material available to vision/mobility impaired people, the technology involved, and the value of services like VAILS, who rely partly on volunteers to keep it afloat.
In 2013, after going on a tour of the State Library of Victoria’s zine collection, I managed to secure a position as a volunteer zine cataloguer. Happy days! As stated on their website, their volunteer base helps lighten the workload for SLV staff and the library as a whole. And recently, thanks to a fellow BIS student (hi Caitlin!) I started volunteering at the Australian Lesbian & Gay Archives as an archivist. Currently I work at SLV and ALGA, having left VAILS to focus on my BIS degree.
The benefits of volunteer work in conjunction with study are many; first-hand experience, making connections with industry folk, and supporting LIS institutes for starters. Those who are concerned about volunteers replacing paid staff, please note that unless volunteer-run, volunteers can’t undertake work that requires specialised training or qualifications.
I recommend volunteering to any LIS student; gain experience, knowledge and help LIS institutes – win/win!