NGAC is delighted to have been able to ask questions of the candidates for this year’s ALIA board elections. Our questions were focused on issues specifically related to students and new graduates. Each candidate’s responses will be posted separately. There are a number of candidates this year and we’ve received a fabulous response so far.  

Many thanks to all candidates for taking the time to answer our questions. 

Today’s responses come from Annette McGuiness.

1. What do you think of the state of the profession for new graduates? If they are finding it difficult to find their first job what advice would you give them?

I believe that the LIS industry offers new graduates some amazing opportunities for those willing to engage and to step forward and/or step up to them. I found ALIA’s Future of the Library and information profession reports (see: provided good insights into the ‘state of the profession’ across a range of the industry’s sectors.

Opportunities do vary across sectors and across the states and territories and this may mean that new graduates (or any library professional really) may need to work in an area that is not an ideal or first choice to gain some good basic experience or to even relocate to maximise the opportunities available to them.

I would advise new graduates to get some good CV and selection criteria training, and to make use of any ALIA or other networking or workshop opportunities.  I would suggest having simple business cards printed up, and to join LinkedIn. I would also recommend new graduates submitting their resumes to LIS and even general recruitment agencies.

2. How can ALIA help students and new graduates? For those in hiring positions what are the benefits of hiring new graduate LIS professionals?

Students and new grads are the future of the profession…. I joined ALIA as a student and it provided a great foundation of valuable information and contacts. That was over 20 years ago and the resources and contacts available today are even more extensive. Keeping student and new grad membership rates reasonable would also be helpful to attracting and retaining those coming to the profession.

Benefits.  In my experience the greatest benefits that new graduates bring to a workplace are a high sense of enthusiasm and energy together with an openness to learn.  I have also found that new graduates bring with them lots of good ideas , and they tend to have a more recent exposure to the literature –  new trend info, links to new sources and resources!

3. What are the essential skills librarians and information professionals need in order to be relevant both today and going into the future? What could ALIA do to promote librarians as information professionals and service providers with skills relevant to a wider range of industries?

Again ALIA has already done some good work in reviewing LIS education, skills and employment trends (see:; but if I had to encapsulate a good foundation information and skill set for new graduates I would include:

  • An excellent theory foundation in information management with solid practicum experience
    High-level digital literacy skills
  • A solid understanding of metadata/access point/description functionality
  • Comfort in using and teaching others to use technology
    Engaging presentation and communication skills,
  • Flexibility and an openness to learn.


LIS professionals have one of the most applicable and transferable skill-sets of any profession.  If you look at all of the knowledge and skills articulated, they are valuable not just across our industry but across any industry that has information management and sharing at its core.


4. What have been the benefits of undertaking professional development in your career? Why should the Professional Development program be compulsory for all ALIA members?

It is rare to find a LIS professional who is not a lifelong learner or a lover of learning. Professional development is critical to staying ‘fresh’ and to maintaining and/or enhancing knowledge and skills.  Group-based PD also tends to offer valuable networking opportunities.   I support the idea of compulsory registration in terms of meeting and maintaining skills to a professional standard however it is very much a balance of cost (both in time and in funding), and I am conscious of those in different parts of the sector (e.g. teacher-librarians, and those working in small special libraries or one-person libraries, etc.) who don’t always have the resources to participate in continuous/compulsory professional development.  

5. What would you like to see the ALIA board achieve?

The short answer is that I would like to achieve great things for its members – which in turn will always benefit our broader work and personal communities. I am very keen to see the ALIA Board supporting initiatives that have value across as many of the library and information sectors as is possible. I look forward to an opportunity to further enhance ALIA’s support and contribution to our incredible industry.

We encourage all eligible members to consider these responses as they make their decisions to vote in the election. Voting is underway in the 2016 ALIA Board of Directors election and will close on Friday 8 April 2016.

More information about the process and this year’s candidates can be found at the ALIA website.

Alisa Howlett, Chair ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee


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