Thursday, June 02, 2005

Summary of ALIA President's talk on Professional Development

As promised (to self) here is a summary of the speech given by Gilliam Hallam to Central Queensland librarians during her visit to celebrate Library and Information Week: (this is how I heard/interpreted it, any errors or omissions are purely mine)

The fact that a couple of major library schools in Oz have closed down is maybe a warning signal to the profession (ie the Uni of NSW is no longer offering the Masters degree and the University of Canberra is closing down the undergrad degree which is particularly worrying given that Canberra as the seat of the National Library has a relatively large librarian population). Major impacts on our profession include ICT and the demographic changes in our users. Questions which the Association are asking are: What are the required skillsets for librarians in the future? How do we as a profession attract the right people? Employers have indicated that they want employees who are ready to hit the ground running, combining discipline knowledge with generic/transferable knowledge like how to work effectively in an organisation. A perception survey of Queensland University of Technology library school students found that the number 1 motivator for taking the course was to get a job. The number 2 motivator was an interest in ICT. Much further down the list were an interest in books etc. The attrition rate amongst QUT library students is a concern to the institution, showing a mismatch in expectations. Interestingly Charles Sturt University, which offers the post grad diploma externally, currently has around 700 students. There is a worry however that if there are only a few universities offering library courses then there will be little diversity in the profession, resulting in only a limited "flavour" of graduates in Australia. Another interesting conundrum is the degree course for library technicians being offered by Edith Cowan University - how do they become librarians? Is there a danger of "credential creep?"

It has also been calculated that 60% of Australian librarians are eligible for retirement in the next 10 years. Where will the new grads come from? And where will the academics come from to train them?

Lots of interesting stuff to consider.

I am now being bugged by my 13 year old who must get on to join one of his gaming forums (to play against guys in the US and Canada). Timing is all important. But I mustn't complain as he gives me lots of info that is extremely relevant to do with our youth library. So more on the interesting speeches in following blogs.


  • Interesting... my first (rather silly) thought was "Will PhD programmes become less prohibitive?". OK, seriously -- I don't know much about LIS education. But it does seem that employers expectations are the same everywhere. That they want employees to "hit the ground running".

    I wonder if "Business & Financial skills" are not mentioned. Increasingly, libraries are run very much like business-concerns (at least from my point of view). And logically so, because it's about efficiency, innovation, results.

    You know, I'm going to have to think about this and blog about it...

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