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ALIA National 2014 – Day 1 – Take Charge of your LIS career

First day of the ALIA National conference and it’s really interesting.  This morning Brad King was talking about what you can do to get a job whether it’s your first job or your next career move.  Libraries and librarians need to learn to sell themselves to IT and get them onside as well as selling themselves and the benefits of their services  to stakeholders.  Question that can be asked is “How do you put numerical worth of the service?”  Workshop looked at what the situation for jobs is in libraries.  There are some things that libraries can do better as well as some things that the libraries do well.  One of the things that libraries can do better is marketing themselves.

Brad made the point that Information Technology practitioners were very good at marketing themselves to the organisation while Information Management practitioners were not.  We tended to just put our heads down and get on with the job.  We need to change this and show how what we do benefits the organisation.   Brad also spoke about his role advocating for appropriate salaries for library workers.  There are many more career opportunities other than “Librarian” or “Library Technician”.  Brad also spoke about what makes a good resume and points out that you don’t just have a generic resume but good idea to tailor it to the job you are going for.  There is no set length to the resume but ensure that it lists achievements rather than just the tasks you have done in positions held.

It is important to keep management abreast of what you are doing otherwise you get undervalued. Brad’s top 5 tips were: try new things; network; professional development; sell yourself and be persistent.  Brad made the point that resumes don’t get you the job they get you the interview.  Interviews get you the job. Remember to tell your referees the job  you are going for and what the role is otherwise they may unwittingly sabotage your chances of getting the job.  Dress for the job you want not the job you have.  So you don’t sabotage your own chances research the company you have an interview with and arrive 1/2 hour early for the interview.  That doesn’t mean walking in early just be close and get yourself settled before getting to the interview.

Judy Brooker then spoke about ALIAs PD scheme and why you should be a part of it.  They have recently introduced specialisations within the PD scheme.  You need to be an ALIA member to access but its worth doing as it provides professional development in various ways.  There are lots of different things you can do that fall under the PD scheme, from reading journal articles, attending course, attending conferences, attending seminars and many more.  Go to http://www.alia.org.au to investigate further.  Learning is a lot about reflective reading and the PD scheme requiresa you to reflect on your reading as a way of keeping track of your activities.  Hugh Rundle then showed us how you can find lots of training and professional development opportunities without going to courses.  Think about the social media networks you  are a part of and how they form part of your professional development.  Don’t just look for ‘library’ for PD opportunities.  Don’t be a blog snob reading a blog about libraries or other relevant topics is still part of professional development.  Kirsty Butler spoke to us about PLNs.  PLN is a Professional Learning Network.  She doesn’t like the term PLN but uses friends and allies.  Think about who you have in your network, this can be anything from blog you read, newspaper/journal article, colleagues, friends and so on.  Most people don’t realise who they have in their network.  Try mapping it out.

Julia Garnett and Kim Tairi spoke about online presence and creating it.  Julia spoke about building your professional brand.  What is your LIS CRED?

C – Connect & Create

R – Read & Reflect

E – Expression & Engagement

D –  Development & Direction

 

Creating your own online presence could be easy – you could already have one.  You need to be the curator of your own presence don’t let others control it. One recurring theme is about reflecting about what you read and learn.  Express yourself, have an online presence and be persistent was another suggestion by Julia.  Don’t be afraid to express your opinion of what you have read/watched.  Develop your online voice and think about your professional development and where you want to go.

Following on from Julia we had Kim Tairi talking about reinventing yourself.  Kim pointed out that we spend too much time focusing on our image and not enough time is spent focusing on professional integrity; passion; engagement; experience and knowledge.  You need to work out where you want to be at in your career and what you need to get there.  It is important to define your own professional story and revise it when it’s necessary.

The day has definitely left me with a lot to think about.  Great workshop and I’m glad I was part of it.

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Professional Development

Talking about professional development with a colleague got me thinking about motivating staff to actually go to training courses or participate in training opportunities.  I can understand when you have to pay for the training yourself, but when the organisation pays for the training or it’s offered free for those in the profession then I’m left perplexed by the refusal to go.  Especially when that same person then goes and complains that they never get an opportunity to upgrade their skill!  Chances are if you say no to training often enough the employer will not bother offering you the opportunity to go to again.

I’m always looking at ways to improve my skills, and by no means am I perfect or even particularly good at everything but I try and learn at least something about the various aspects of librarianship.  My biggest struggle at the moment is motivating others to try and learn a new skill. This is especially true if the skill involves technology, whether a new device or new software/medium. Have to agree with Mary Kelly who on her blog Library Lost & Found said

Chances are that a perfect blend of scheduling, training budgets, and managerial support will not exist.   Often, the reality is that there is nothing to support you and your career.  You – and you alone – will be the only one to care about your career.

We need to take responsibility for our own professional development and look at the courses being offered and seeing if it would enhance our skills even in a small way.  I’m not saying to go to everything but don’t say no to something just because you don’t know anything about the subject.  The other benefit of going to training seminar/workshops and other professional development opportunities is the opportunity for professional networking.  Sometimes that becomes a valuable opportunity because it gives you the opportunity to find out how others do things and gives you the opportunity to bounce ideas off someone else.

AGLIN Forum “New technologies: value and practices in libraries”

Just organising my trip to Canberra for the AGLIN forum on “new technologies: value and practices in libraries”.  There is an interesting mix of people speaking.  I’m interested in looking into the semantic web and what that is about.  At the moment there really is a lot going on technologically both globally but also within libraries and sometimes it’s hard to keep up.  Will be blogging from the forum and tweeting if possible.

Online training

As more training gets done online these days I’m finding myself evaluating things that I like and don’t like about it and what bits are helpful.  I know we all do this but I’m finding that there are times where I wonder why I’m doing the training.  I’ve recently had to do some systems training and as the LMS provider is in the US the training has been done online.  Now I know there are technical difficulties that arise and there are time zones and other issues but I really struggle to follow a training session where all I’m doing is sitting at a desk watching my computer monitor and listening in while the trainer is showing me different links and areas of the system.  While I do find it interesting it becomes a bit of a battle trying to remember everything – while taking notes – and not to fall asleep during the session as it becomes a bit of a one way session.

I’m not talking about a session that is only 1 hour – this is a 6 hour training session that can become monotonous when all you have is one person talking and all you need to do is remember to move your mouse occasionally so that the screensaver doesn’t come on.   It gets worse if there are no training manuals provided – or are provided 5 minutes before the session starts and you haven’t had time to print them out.    I know there are limitations to what you can do but I’m not sure that anyone learns a lot in that situation.  I know that I’m usually left scratching my head and wondering what was it that I’ve just learnt.

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