When I heard that the ALIA Lib Tech Conference were looking for abstracts, I thought, why not give it a go? So I ended up standing in an auditorium full of fellow library technicians talking about what I do, and it was a fantastic experience.

The one overarching theme of the conference was DIY PD for LT (Do it Yourself – Professional Development for Library Technician’s). The conference provided an opportunity see the range of issues that library technicians face and how these cross over to what I do working with a special collections repository.
Another theme was, ‘we’re all in this together, let’s collaborate’. There were a great range of social activities for networking opportunities. The sessions were great but perhaps even more valuable were the connections I made with others in my field. It was also wonderful to be a presenter at a smaller conference like this, people were very friendly.

Here’s a day by day recap of the conference.

The Tours – Day 0

I toured the fantastic digitisation lab at State Library of NSW and the Art Gallery of NSW Library. Both of these were fantastic but I won’t dwell on these but simply say, if you have a chance to tour either of these facilities, take it! An interesting tidbit, the State Library refers to their library users as ‘readers’ not ‘clients.

Mitchell Library Reading Room, State Library of NSW

The Sessions – Day 1

The conference started with a bang with President of ALIA Vicki McDonald discussing the need for information professionals to both take advantage of opportunities and create opportunities for themselves. You are in charge of your own professional development (this came up time and time again throughout the conference).

Debra Gilmore who won the LT Research Award presented on the question, is there a need for increased ICT training in library technician courses in Australia? Great research here. Debra surveyed libraries and library technicians and the answer was an overwhelming, Yes.

Trent Tascon-Guillame had a wonderful presentation on connecting youth with the community. It was really interesting to see the ways in which he and library he works at are encouraging cross-generational learning and collaboration. He discussed three challenges in engaging with young people: change, age-based biases and ‘token’ participation. Trent used the slide below to point out some of the differences between age groups in their use of ICT, a good example of knowing your audience.

Statistics on age difference and IT use from Trent’s talk

Renate Beilharz asked the question, Is programming essential for metadata specialists? She said that catalogers represented a very small piece of the pie in the world of data (see picture below). We don’t need to become programmers to be catalogers but we need to understand the underpinnings.

Metadata Universe capture
Excerpt from Seeing Standards – A Visualization of the Metadata Universe from Jenn Riley, http://jennriley.com/metadatamap/ CC BY NC SA, referred to in Renate Beilharz’s talk

Dr. Edmund Balnaves gave an interesting overview on harvesting to build institutional knowledge resources and discussed how cataloguing and search were essential for access.

The Q&A open forum panel discussion was with two librarians from America and one from Canada about differences in how how library technicians, professional organisations and conferences work in North America to how they work in Australia. One interesting fact from this one: the ALA conference usually has about 20,000 delegates! I can’t imagine what a conference like that would be like.

I also presented on this day and I will make a separate post with that content later.

The Sessions – Day 2

Day 2 started off with Dr. Perry McIntyre from Anchor books talking about how she believes in the value of physical/print books, an interesting perspective in an increasingly digital world.

Roxanne Missingham (rock star of the Australian library profession) discussed bridges for new careers and libraries as bridges of knowledge. Her presentation was very engaging with some live polling taking place during the presentation. She urges that we needed to be open to movement across sectors, especially since we have a lot to learn from each other.

‘A student walks into a University Library’ by Gaynor Cotter and Elizabeth Quilty of University of Sydney, explored some of the ways they support and encourage their students. I was amazed at the similarity between what they are providing at their library and what we are doing for students at the University of Newcastle.

There was more to this day but this post is getting too long…I will post more about the conference’s PD theme and ‘future-proofing’ your career next week.





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