10 career building tips for library students and new graduates

I recently spoke at an online careers evening, with two other library professionals. The central idea for my talk was “It’s Up To You” and I wasn’t surprised to hear the other speakers talk about taking control of their career post-study, reinforcing my theme perfectly! And I wasn’t surprised to hear that both speakers talk about seizing opportunities, making hard decisions around study, moving for work and joining special interest groups to network and learn.

Once you have graduated from your library course, the learning begins all over again. You might secure a role straight away and HELLO! time to learn all the things about your organisation and job. Or you may be job searching or learning how to maintain your enthusiasm and library knowledge whilst working in another industry. But how do you find the right people to connect with, find a mentor or learn more about the specific area of library/information you are interested in?

Before the information session started, I created a Google Doc to capture articles and links that would be useful for those attending, and of course I shared it on Twitter and the Turbitt & Duck Facebook group, with a request for my fellow library people:

The collaboration and knowledge sharing game is strong in the library and information world, so here are ten tips from the It’s Up To You Google Doc, Twitter discussion, information session and me!

  1. Join Twitter – it’s brilliant for following conferences from afar, connecting with people, finding resources and sharing knowledge.
  2. Brush up on your interview skills.
  3. Ask a colleague or friend to review your resume or use a resume review service. If it’s been a long time since you’ve updated this document, do it now.
  4. Join a special interest group. You will expand your networks and find opportunities very quickly!
  5. Be curious! Ask questions and read widely.
  6. Create networks. If you are happy to do this online, join Twitter, Facebook groups, participate in online chats. If face to face is your thing, find a local group or event or start one.
  7. Volunteer at GLAM events. You’ll meet people, hear from industry experts and flex your networking muscles.
  8. Professional development comes in many forms – articles, blog posts, YouTube videos, podcast episodes, hands on learning, books, online discussions  . . . get creative!
  9. Spend time learning about transferable skills and how to translate what you already have into library and information terms.
  10. Don’t expect your employer to provide opportunities for you. It’s up to you to develop the skills, attributes and knowledge you need.

The “It’s Up To You” doc will stay open to all, so if you have something to add, please do! And thank you to everyone who has contributed, let’s keep adding and sharing!

Finding opportunities to advocate for libraries, information and what we do

The list of podcasts I listen to is a mixed bag of comedy, history, self-improvement, libraries, communication, conversations but here’s what I think is missing from many podcasts and online discussions.

Library people talking about what we do, who we support, how we are a vital asset to universities, cities, towns, hospitals, businesses, government, communities . . . you know what I’m talking about (and if you don’t hi! let’s talk libraries and information!)

Today I listened to episode 42 of Reasons to Be Cheerful with Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd on “tech for good”. Take a look at these statements and words I scribbled down whilst listening to this episode:

Take the lead of the people in your community, they know what they need.

Ordinary people deploying technology together.

Working with citizens and technology.


Demystifying technology.

Give tools to people to allow them to have a stake in their world.

Community-led civic policy making.

Sound familiar? They are either:

What libraries already do like demystifying technology and working with citizens and technology.


Programs and networks that we should be involved in like community-led civic policy making.

The episode about tech for good took a quick dive into smart cities, Red Hook mesh network, the Barcelona Digital City plan and The Bristol Approach – all people led projects that use technology to create change and strengthen communities.

As soon as one of the guests mentioned access to free internet, I thought libraries and hoped they would be mentioned but they weren’t, but WHY NOT?

So my question is: where are the library people being interviewed on podcasts and sharing knowledge in online groups and discussions?

When people are pushing for action in a community (I’m not just talking public libraries here) libraries need to be right in the thick of it, our spaces and people can be staging posts for smart cities, citizen-led projects, deploying technology for communities. We can provide:

  • internet access
  • resources
  • space to meet, plot and plan
  • training
  • support
  • networks to find more supporters
  • enthusiasm!

Talking to these groups, finding non-users who don’t know what libraries offer, we can reach these people via podcasts. We just need to get ourselves on the podcasts – but how?

I’ve been pondering how to do more advocacy outside of the library world:

If you listen to a podcast and find yourself thinking “a librarian needs to be on this show”, contact the podcast and suggest it.

Suggest libraries, library people and what we do in online groups and chats. I’ve started chiming in with “you can borrow that book for free at your local library!” and “why don’t you speak to your library about space for your event” and “a librarian would be a great guest on our podcast” etc whenever I see an opportunity. Sometimes I’m ignored, but sometimes it starts a great conversation and if it puts libraries and information organisations to the front of someone’s mind, I’m happy!

In the words of Glòria Pérez-Salmerón, IFLA President,  “you can all be influencers” so join me and start influencing where you see an opportunity!



Five tips for the New Librarians’ Symposium first-timer

If the New Librarians’ Symposium 8 (NLS8) is the first symposium you’ve ever attended, this post is for you.

This is my third NLS. Way back in 2013, I attended NLS6 in Brisbane. Still a student at Charles Sturt, my decision to attend  was mainly due to my enthusiasm for my studies being at an all time low and NLS6 seemed like the perfect chance to learn more about the industry and see if I was on the right track. Because I self-funded my trip there was a steely determination to enjoy myself, meet people and essentially make the most of the experience.

Make a deal with yourself

At NLS6, I didn’t want to travel to Brisbane, spend my hard earned dollars, attend an exciting event and not meet anyone new. So I promised myself that I’d introduce myself to people and generally push myself to network.

My first “hello” was awkward (from my perspective), I introduced myself to someone I follow on Twitter but it was worth it. Then I thanked a speaker for an amazing keynote, literally jumping out in front of her and saying “thanks you were amazing!”.

Yes, some people at NLS8 know each other already

That’s the nature of the beast. At NLS6 it felt like everyone knew each other. Not true. A lot of people at the symposium may know each other online and are meeting for the first time IRL. Some people are there on their own and don’t know anyone at all. Some people are there with colleagues. It’s a mix.

Everyone is probably feeling a little bit anxious or nervous

Yes they are. Yes they are. Even the keynotes, committee, speakers and volunteers. Harness your nerves into energy and enthusiasm to make the most of your time in Canberra. If it helps, spend the first break observing and familiarising yourself with the NLA and then in the next session, say hello to the person sitting next to you. Just a hi and smile, nothing more (unless you strike up a conversation which is highly likely!)


Be early

This is my own way of feeling a little calmer when doing something new. I like to be early. Sometimes a little bit too early but that’s ok with me. I can sit in my car or in a quiet spot and watch people arrive and think “Oh, you go to the registration desk first and then to the XYZ”. Helps me feel a little more confident when I’m stepping into that unknown space for the first time.

Seize the day

You’ve spent the money, travelled, slept in a different bed, thought about what to wear (or not), selected comfortable shoes (wear them please! your feet will thank you), charged your device, packed your charger and your business cards.

This is your two days to meet people, learn, connect with your industry. Do as many things as you can, make a deal with yourself to meet 5 people a day, smile at the person standing next to you in line for lunch. Thank a speaker after their session and tell them what you enjoyed about it. High five a volunteer or committee member. Spend some time in the break out space and make sure you leave time to explore the NLA. You’re at the National Library of Australia!

Make the most of the symposium. Don’t go home with “I wish I…” regrets. And most importantly, enjoy yourself in whatever shape that takes.

Find me and say hello at NLS8, I’ll be wearing a white t-shirt and meeting as many people as I can!

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