Future dreaming VIII #futurelibraries

How can New Zealand Librarians collectively participate in the future of the profession on a global scale?

We may be a small country, all the way at the southern edge of the Pacific Ocean, just slightly north of Antarctica, but we have fantastic opportunities to be part of the global professional librarian network. Connectedness via the internet to allows us to create broader international professional networks.

In reality, individually & small groups of New Zealand Librarians are already participating on a global level in the profession – from the significant New Zealand presence in #hyperlibMOOC, connections to the global 23 Mobile Things program networks, presenting at & attending international conferences, participating in IFLA events.

We are already taking our place on the international stage on an individual level, and perhaps that is enough, for now. It’s possible that we don’t need to be doing this at a collective level right now, because the collective view may be that we don’t need to *all* be connected globally, yet. I so think that the tipping point is fast approaching though, as more globally-looking and hyper-connected graduates join the professional librarian ranks. Continue reading

Stepping up #mentors

What began as a post reflecting on my journey of finding a mentor has morphed into a different post altogether.

I’ve come to realise that I believe more strongly (than I originally thought) that the mentoring of new information professionals is vitally important for the GLAM sectors going forward, whether it is inside the structured framework of a workplace program or under the umbrella of a professional association).

Structured mentoring is about actively supporting & encouraging those who are stepping out in their sparkly new shoes into the professional world, and we owe it to new graduates to provide a support network & to welcome them into the exciting world of the various GLAM sectors that we work in. Leaving newbies to find their own way might work for some individuals, but I think that expecting total independence & self-assurance might actually increase the level of floundering and leave many feeling quite lost & isolated, and wondering why on earth they decided to get into the gallery/library/museum/archives sectors in the first place. Continue reading

Serendipity calling #mentors

At several points in my life, there’s been serendipitous moments when I have “needed” some guidance, and often the right person turns up at the right moment, or the right piece of advice has appeared. This stems from that whole idea that you’ll only begin to learn when you are open to learning, or that you’ll only receive guidance when you are willing to take it on board. Sometimes, we’re not ready to listen, accept, learn from others, and other times, we are open to the support that others provide. Continue reading

Advice and ideas about Dream Jobs

A recent browse at the public library led me to an interesting read. Laura Dodd talked to her twentysomething peers about their work. What did they love? What did they not love? How did they get the job they have? What is their workplace really like? In 2011, Laura Dodd published her first book, dig this gig : Find Your Dream Job – or Invent it.

I enjoyed the way the stories were grouped into sections, from growth sectors to new twists on traditional industries, such as “Green Gigs – One Earth, Billions of Footprints”. These are stories from the trenches, what is the work environment *really* like. Here’s a video promo from the author.

In the book’s introduction, Dodd mentions two common threads of the stories. #1 It is hard.#2 But it is all worth it. Two other underlying themes of this book resonated with me. Mentors. Failure. The first is often talked about in LIS land, & usually in a positive way, but the second is often ignored, or viewed negatively. Dodd interviewed mentors in the various fields and asked them to share their insights with up & comers? Dodd also includes a section titled Derailed Gigs. It sheds light on what really happens when it all turns to custard. How to recover from redundancy? being fired? being let go?

It’s got me thinking about GLAM jobs. Do we really know what it is like in the workplace trenches? How do new librarians and new professionals know what is out there? For example, at NLS6 a common theme was data, Big Data, messy data, cultural data. Do many of us newbies really know what this might mean for our future careers? How do we find out? How do we learn more about it?

Early on in my librarian career, I approached several senior staff in my then-workplace. I asked if I could buy them a coffee and talk to them about their career path. I was new & enthusiastic, and I wanted to know more about what the future career path might look like for me. So I bought them a coffee and asked some starter questions. How did they get the job that they had? What were the highlights from their career journey? What advice did they have for a newbie like me?

It was incredibly useful, and taught me to listen and reflect. It only cost me time and coffee, and it was really worth it. Some of the jobs that I thought looked interesting from the outside were indeed interesting, but not for me once I found out more about what they actually entailed. Other jobs that I didn’t really know much about seemed much more like what I wanted to do. It was worth being brave (and naive) enough to make contact with them.

There’s plenty of jobs that I want to know more about. Perhaps it is time for me to start asking more questions over coffee to get new ideas, find out what it is really like in the trenches, & what skills I might need to acquire to be better positioned to move into those roles in the future.

Who says I am a professional?

This is my personal perspective on it. I’m still working my way through this topic. My views may change. This is today’s reflection.

I completed the requirements for my M.L.I.S. in 2006. –> I became a new librarian.

I attended my graduation ceremony in 2007. –> I became a new graduate.

I became professionally registered with LIANZA in 2011. –> I became a new professional.

However, if I wasn’t professionally registered with the New Zealand industry association, would I still be considered a professional? I would definitely still consider myself a professional librarian, but I don’t know if Library Land would.

My behavior has changed little since my professional registration. I still read voraciously, I still actively participate in discussions, I still develop myself professionally. I now make notes of what I do professionally to fulfill registration requirements for my professional association, but I don’t think that makes me more or less professional. It does mean that I keep track of and reflect on my PD to fit specific criteria for specific assessment. It demonstrates to employers that I meet the benchmark for the industry (or at least it will when I submit my journal for successful validation in 2014 – I am thinking positively about the future!).

It will be an interesting challenge to determine what exactly is a new professional for the LIS industry. Is this year going to be a tipping point for NZ? Are Kiwi New Librarians emerging from their studies keen & ready to fully immerse themselves in the professional registration process? Will we see all NZ LIS graduates take up professional registration? Do we have enough mentors stepping up to support the 12 months mentoring scheme?

The embedding of professional registration will take time in NZ’s Library Land. It took time overseas for professional registration to become the standard for other Library Associations. Registration has become part of the fabric of other NZ industries, such as teaching (NZ Teachers Council – Registered Teacher Criteria), social work (ANZASW – competency & re-certification) and architecture (NZIA). No doubt there was initial resistance in many of those sectors. No doubt there is still not 100% registration within these industries. No doubt professional registration means different things to different sectors.

I can see lots of potential research emerging from this topic with the lens on new librarians and new professionals. I don’t think this research should only be undertaken by LIS students, but I’m not sure who would find funding for this research otherwise.

  • Investigation of the impact(s) that professional registration has on new librarians.
  • Investigation into why new librarians choose not to participate in the professional registration process (are the reasons similar or different to those of established librarians who have chosen not to register?).
  • Comparison of the NZ experience against overseas experience in LIS industry.
  • Investigation of whether or not being a professional librarian has an impact on salaries in NZ, and across different library sectors (e.g. school, tertiary, special, corporate, law, public).
  • Investigation of the impact of professionalism in the school librarian community, who are working alongside teachers who have to be registered to be able to do what they do.
  • Comparison of LIS industry with other professions.