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 Holger Aman.

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?

Having been a new graduate fairly recently, I think I have a good insight into this question. There are a couple of issues, but I think they are linked. First of all, there’s a bit of a dearth of entry level positions. Secondly, there seem to be many experienced professionals applying for entry level positions, which seems to be a fairly rare phenomenon. Finally, it’s quite rare for organisations to either want to, or to have the ability to hire with an eye toward attitude.

It’s difficult to gain employment as a newgrad with no experience. It’s also difficult to gain experience as a new grad. Getting experience in any way possible and taking any job offered is a great way to get your foot in the door. If possible, take up any opportunity. Even if it means moving away from your home town!

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

I’d like to see ALIA partner with institutions to create a register of people looking to gain skills and experience through volunteering, or through casual work. This would put employers and those wanting to gain more skills in direct contact. Alternatively, these roles could be advertised on the ALIA site (similarly to the Recruit LIS).  It would be great to see ALIA promote the cadetships and newgraduate hiring programmes that some institutions provide.

New grad LIS professionals are an investment for employers. They can be introduced to the culture and will most likely have a lot of loyalty and commitment as they learn and grow with the organisation. They are also great for bringing new attitudes and perspectives to an established workplace.

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?

I think that for new grads, skills are less important that attitudes. The LIS profession is such a wide one, it is impossible to have all the skills that one may possibly need straight out of Library School.  Having a positive and flexible attitude, together with the knowledge to be able to quickly gain the skills that you need in your area is the best way to retain relevance. Spreading our reach to other sectors will be all about advocacy through mainstream channels and relationship building. Things that ALIA already does, but will only continue to improve.

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?

Undertaking continuous professional development has led to many great things for me. First and foremost, it continually reminds me how much I still have to learn! This keeps me on my toes and hopefully prevents me from falling into a comfortable languor. It has also exposed me to many sectors of the profession that I would have never seen, allowed me to meet some great mentors and friends, as well as giving me some great experiences.

I think professional development should be compulsory for all LIS professionals in an ideal world. This would maintain a standard among the profession and would help us remain strong and dynamic.

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

Honestly? Finding the answer (and I mean truly solving) to just one of the above questions would be an incredibly achievement that I would be proud to be part of. However, these are just some questions in a myriad of challenges and opportunities that we face and it’s clear that they don’t have an easy answer, or possibly even a final answer at all.

We are a profession that is in a state of change, even relative to a constantly changing world. I’d like to see the ALIA board help the LIS industry become and remain the agile, relevant and responsive profession that it can and should be.

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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