The NLS8 Experience

Over the weekend of June 23-25 I was lucky enough to be able to attend the ALIA New Librarians’ Symposium 8 in Canberra. It was not only a great opportunity to attend workshops and sessions to build my knowledge on all things library related, but also to network and build connections with other new and seasoned librarians.

The keynote on Day One was presented by none other than the founders of the International Librarians Network! It was inspiring to hear Kate, Clare and Alyson speak, and a rare opportunity to meet together in person (except for Alyson who was up at all hours Skyping in from Denmark!). Their message was clear – whatever you do, DO SOMETHING. And when you do something, don’t do it alone – do it together.

This theme was evident across the rest of the conference. Sessions on change management discussed how everything is a learning experience – so don’t worry about making mistakes or failing. The keynote by Mylee Joseph instilled in us the drive to listen, to say yes, and to collaborate.

I also attended a workshop on research data, delivered by Karen Visser from the Australian National Data Service (ANDS). If you haven’t yet – get started on the ANDS 23 Research Data Things. It’s a great introduction to research data, lets you work at your own pace, and provides multiple levels of difficulty.

Another interesting session was a panel discussion on ‘fashion, individuality and dressing professionally’. As someone with ‘funky’ outfits, it can be hard to reconcile this with dress codes and the fear of being judged by others in the workplace. I was inspired to wear some more ‘out there’ items at work – it makes you memorable and it shows your confidence to be yourself!

Day Two’s keynote R. David Lankes presented us with the statement “A new librarian is brave and bold”, and reminded us that Batgirl is a Librarian by day. Lankes key takeaways were that we are community activists – we need to make meaning through conversations, help people to tell their stories, and not just rely on data sets as the ‘new holy text’ (You can watch the full video online).

Other workshops got me really thinking about how I can incorporate research culture and practice in my career (an intimidating step for me!) and how I can develop skills in project management (the amount of jargon involved in this area was fun for bingo, but a real challenge to understand). Sam Searle discussed three IT skills other than codinguser experience, change management and business process improvement – and you can follow her blog to learn more about these.

The final keynote of the conference was by Jane Caro, who received a standing ovation. ‘Inspirational’ doesn’t do enough to describe her speech. She told us “you are fine just the way you are”. Her advice: make mistakes, be yourself, don’t let others take away your power, use humour – it’s a powerful tool, and admit when you are wrong.

I left NLS8 feeling empowered, inspired and a little overwhelmed. My first ‘do something’ was to set myself the challenge of embracing Twitter as a professional development tool – so follow me @misslibrarygrrl, check out #nls8 (where you can also find a lot of the presentation slides), and contact me if you want to collaborate and ‘do something’ together!

Michelle De Aizpurua, ILN Content Officer.

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