The ALIA National Conference was held at the Pullman Hotel in Melbourne with the theme “together we are stronger”. As a volunteer at the event I was able to attend sessions throughout the day around my shift on the registration desk in the afternoon.
The keynote session The British Library in a globalised world was presented by Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library. Roly highlighted the challenges of participating in the digital age when you are an international organisation steeped in tradition. Key takeaways were being responsive to user needs, meeting changing expectations and the importance of accessible digital collections. These themes are commonly encountered during my studies.
I also attend several of the “New Grads” stream sessions including Librarians don’t read on the job presented by Michael Carney from the State Library of NSW and Holger Aman from the NSW Law Courts Library which focused on research into the expectations versus professional realities of librarians; Professional learning networks for online students and new grads of LIS presented by Jessica Begley from the Australian Institute of Criminology focusing on using tools such as Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to build a personal learning network (PLN); and Two new grads share their mundane but successful learning journey presented by Michelle Coxsen and Lee Bess from TAFE Queensland which provided advice on the less radical options for gaining experience for those who cannot relocate for work or volunteer (common advice for students/new grads). These sessions were particularly relevant to me and I found them very applicable to my situation. Being a distance education student, stay-at-home-parent with no industry experience I really took on board the advice to use social networking tools to build a PLN and put my hand up for extra tasks.
Attending ALIA National was my first experience at a professional conference and a valuable opportunity to engage with the industry. I was able to meet members of my PLN in real life as well as many new people in the industry. The experience was energising, prompting my first tweet after several months of lurking in the Twittersphere and provided ample inspiration for developing my professional self. I plan to channel the enthusiasm and energy from the conference into my final assessment for the year as well as consider starting a blog and publishing in the Australian Library Journal.
In reviewing these notes two years later it is nice to see how I did channel that enthusiasm. I now have a blog and a strong PLN on Twitter. In addition, by showing I was willing to put my hand up for extra tasks, I I continue to be asked to participate in further opportunities, including being invited to participate on a student panel for the ALIA course review of the BIS last year, providing a testimonial for the BIS course and invited to join the ALIA SNGG committee. The latter I declined due to time constraints this year but hope to join next year when I have completed my studies.