The post conference thud

APLIC finished a few weeks ago but I’m just coming out of the other side of “post conference thud”. That feeling of spending several days absorbing new ideas and trying to connect them to your work as well as save them for future reference, talking until you lose your voice, meeting new people, re-connecting with friends and colleagues, not sleeping very well due to being totally wired and awake until the wee hours of the morning and the exhaustion that goes with being “on” for a week.


And then you return home and go back to work and spend the first week post-conference picking up all the threads, restarting conversations and projects, finding where all the socks went at home and who is enrolling in what electives for next year and finding your “non-conference life” groove again.


A couple of weeks after APLIC I was more exhausted and mentally wrung out. The thud became complete overwhelm and I was full of doubt – did I really do a “good job” at the conference? Was I useful as a state manager? Did I connect with enough people? Did people who complimented on the podcast really mean it? Did I go to the right sessions? Yes. I spiralled. Exhaustion rolls out the welcome mat for these thoughts – every single time.

At least I recognised how being tired + negative had joined forces and that what I really needed to do was give myself a big pat on the back and a large exuberant high five. But how?

Ask Twitter of course…

And as always, the answers were generous and kind:

And this reply from Lyndelle helped me to feel less alone with these thoughts.

So what now? I listened to all this advice and felt really motivated to make the ones that appealed to me actually happen. I made a ta-da list, and an achievement board, scheduled quiet time, spoke to friends who make me feel good, spent time with family doing things we love and took some time away from screens and everything online. I’ve also read a bit more than usual and spent more time outside. These are all things I know I should do, but they end up at the bottom of the list when the THUD happens. It’s a work in progress and each time I hit that low bit, I get a bit better at taking action and recognising the signs.

What do you do when you’re overwhelmed? How do you cope with the post-conference thud? I’d love to hear what you do.

Fear and choosing a new adventure

I didn’t expect to be writing another chapter to this story quite so soon, but here we are.

The end of June found me reading an email detailing the (early) end of my contract. Yes it was a shock, no it wasn’t anything personal, just a decision. I have been AWOL from blogging since then because it’s been an emotional, challenging time and I wasn’t quite sure what to write about and generally just lost the tiny bit of blogging mojo I found during #blogjune.

Ask for help, be visible, review everything, ask for help again

Whilst I started to wrap up my role and finish all those little annoying tasks that had been in the too hard pile for a few months, I spent my evenings and weekends focusing on finding my next role – here’s what I did:

  1. Spent time thinking about: what I need in a workplace, what kind of role I was looking for and potential organisations that might be the right fit.
  2. Checked all the local councils, universities, SEEK, CareerOne, Linkedin, ALIA employment list for potential roles every few days (who am I kidding…I was checking multiple times a day…)
  3. Consulted INALJ’s list of keywords for library jobs and tweaked my searches accordingly.
  4. Completely rewrote my CV, which was a huge task and also gave me a massive confidence boost – I’ve gained skills and knowledge over the last couple of years that I hadn’t considered until *cough* I wrote them down.
  5. Asked colleagues and friends for advice on: whether to ring the contact person listed on a position to ask some well thought out questions (YES) and questions to ask at an interview.
  6. Prepared an email to send out to professional connections letting them know I was looking for work.
  7. Updated my Linkedin profile.
  8. Contacted colleagues I have worked with over the last three years, thanking them for their support and letting them know I would be leaving the organisation. ( A few years ago this would have seemed really over the top and incredibly awkward, but it was a really good move. I received several tips on roles that were not advertised externally and generally felt like I left on a positive note).
  9. Gathered information via Linkedin and Google about potential organisations and employees (thanks Amy). This helped me decide whether to apply or not. Super useful.
  10. Applied for roles: individual applications for each position, read through the criteria and instructions many many times.
  11. Read my cover letter and selection criteria to myself out loud (discovered dogs like to be read to).
  12. Read through (multiple times) the awesome resource that is Australian Library Interview Questions. (Make sure you add any questions that you come across).
  13. Referred to the notes I made on what I was looking for (point 1) whenever I felt like my job searching was going a little awry.

#Codebrown and other cool stuff

And then . . . an interview and a job offer. Librarian, in a public library. Exactly where I didn’t expect to be working!

Here’s the thing. I’ve written before that working outside of libraries (in research governance) left me feeling like an outsider. I embraced it and felt like it was a great fit for me. However, I never anticipated my job ending early and honestly, that drove me to look on the “inside” and really think about why I was afraid of applying for librarian roles. Short answer: fear.

So tomorrow, I’ll be catching a train, getting to know new systems, patrons, people, all the good stuff. No fear, ok maybe a few nerves, but I’m ready. Articles like Code Brown: Design Thinking & Beyond feat. @jeromical / Part 1 and The Summer of Bathroom Issues by Justin Hoenke plus public library programs like Reading Between the Wines and Pop-Up Libraries have me very excited to be joining the public library world.





5 job search resources

Job searching, resumes and selection criteria have been at the top of my list in the last couple of weeks (change sometimes happens when we are least expecting it!) so here are five resources that have been super useful.

Tell your stories

If you’re currently volunteering or working, make sure your resume is up to date, don’t wait until you “need” it! Give your resume a big clean out and use it to tell some dragon-slaying stories. This article really helped me to figure out what stories I needed to tell to make sure people knew what I can do. It’s harder than some pulling together some tidy bullet points, but it does mean you’re using your own voice to talk about what you can and want to do.

Resume or CV?

The ALIA Students and New Grads blog is full of excellent round ups and tips on resumes. Take a look and keep an eye out for the next resume review session. Speak to the team about finding someone to review your resume too.

Questions, questions

Ah selection criteria. How I wish these didn’t exist. I’d much rather make a video response or even a diorama, but until that day, use this guide to responding to selection criteria. Remember to tailor each application!

Bringing back the wiki

This wiki is a treasure trove of good information. Books, job agencies, job search strategies, cover letters – you will find all this and more. Compiled by the Students and New Grads Group (seriously this team do a HEAP of fantastic work for new professionals!) take a look and use it!

Reach out

If you can, let people know you’re looking for work. Reach out to your personal network online or IRL and ask for advice.

Sometimes you might just need to bounce some ideas off a person who doesn’t know you really really well – a different perspective can help. It will help if you are really clear about what you’re looking for e.g think about what you enjoy doing, the direction you want to head in, the kind of people you want to work with. These questions will help you narrow your focus so you don’t just say to colleagues “I want a job!”.

That’s it, I’m off to write some more job applications!

What’s your top tip for job hunting?

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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