Stand out in the Crowd: skills development for a successful career
What are employing libraries looking for?
As an employer when recruiting staff you are seeking skills such as:
When recruiting to vacancies the following skills/actions is what makes applicants stand out:
The theoretical component is what is termed underpinning knowledge, the practical component demonstrates your ability to apply it to a workplace situation
Academic qualifications are both critical and admirable in our present society. In the information industry practical experience is equally as critical - they are seen as complimentary but equal
As a potential employer I am willing to take on those who do a work placement as part of their study
Those willing to take on tasks lower than positions you will be getting as a graduate is very positive ie desk and shelving types of positions
Where possible acquiring a part-time position whilst studying - is a good approach
From our recent experience of those we have employed on a temporary contract they have been less willing to perform duties they consider lower than the professional level. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. From an employer's perspective this attitude is often perceived as arrogance rather than confidence
The traditional Technical Services and Reader Services skills are no longer as segregated as they have been in the past. These skills are now interchangeable in the workplace
At interview you may be given a scenario where the panel is looking at your ability to manage situations in the workplace and they will be legitimate examples of what actually happens in the workplace
It is not only about acquiring skills - it is also about developing them to an independent level in the workplace
As stated earlier, the information industry is a very practical profession. One must first acquire the doing skills before one is management material
When looking for middle and senior management - applicants must show how they manage situations not necessarily how they do tasks
Communication is a critical workplace skill. This includes communicating up as well as down
Seek out someone who is willing to take on a mentoring role with you, particularly in developing your management skills
As a manager I often state:
I have been asked to use my own experiences as an example of success, but I will leave that part of it to your judgement.
Appointed as Library Assistant in an academic library when I had completed 75% of a Graduate Diploma of Librarianship at he then Canberra College of Advanced Education
Contract continued in this position for 30 hours per week whilst I completed the Graduate Diploma.
In this position my duties were:
Completed Graduate Diploma and began working as a Library Officer 1 full-time
After two years in this position I realised there was limited opportunity for me to gain a professional position where I was employed. I enjoyed working with young people and looked for positions that required the skills I had gained in an academic library
I was appointed as the Young Adults Librarian (Librarian 1) at the Belconnen Branch of what was then the Canberra Public Library Service where I stayed for two years. I took every opportunity to work with school libraries to develop information literacy skills of young adults. When I realised that the long-term support for such a position was under threat in the Public libraries, I looked for positions that needed the skills I had and where I could develop skills I didn't have. During that time I enrolled in a Graduate Diploma of Advance Librarianship (equivalent to a Masters Qualifying) which I completed in 1989.
Appointed as an L1 at the National Library of Australia (NLA), Oral History Section where I stayed until December 1990. During my time at the NLA I acted as the Senior Oral History Officer, I worked in the Australian Reference section briefly and the Map Section on a regular basis undertaking both reference and cataloguing duties.
Once again I saw this acquisition of a range of skills at the PO1 level as an opportunity. I also found that my attitude carried me through as I was willing to try things.
After 6-7 years as a PO1 I felt ready for a promotion at the middle management level. I had opportunities in the Public Libraries acting as Branch Librarian and as the Senior Oral History Officer (non-professional position at the PO2 level) at the NLA. I realised how much I missed working in an educational environment and recognised my interest in Vocational Education &Training sector (ie TAFE)
Appointed as a Campus Librarian at the then ACT Institute of TAFE. I was able to market my skills in the areas of managing human, financial and physical resources as part of the selection process. I also had a number of publications and a reasonable list of projects that I had managed or been a team participant. I began developing a clear strength in client services.
I then had an opportunity to act as Senior Librarian Learning Services at what had become the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT). I was permanently appointed to this position in August 1997 with experience in managing the staff and services across six campus libraries, co-ordinating the Library Business Plan, forming strong links with the Faculties, regularly presenting the Library session as part of the Prepare to Study workshop for newly enrolled students at CIT. I also had a keen interest in corporate issues and how these affected the role of the L&LC in an educational environment.
As the information industry changed my role in this position developed and I acquired a range of marketable skills. In particular, my skills in client services, presentation of services to staff and student across CIT and project management. At that time CIT Library & Learning Centre took on a new initiative and developed an electronic library tour (on CD-ROM in those days) and then developed library literacy modules in electronic format as a follow on from the electronic library tour.
Throughout this time I maintained a keen interest in information literacy and focused on the development of key competencies of learners in a VET environment.
From 1993 I studied part-time and completed my M.A (information Studies) in 1998 with my thesis topic being: An investigation of library literacy levels of flexible learners at the Canberra Institute of Technology: a Pilot study.
I have always had a strong interest in the role those employed in the information industry have in developing information literacy levels of learners. I have also had a long-term commitment to vocational education and training.
Appointed as the Institute Librarian at CIT. In the past 12 - 18 months through the contributions and professional support of the staff of the Library & Learning Centre (L&LC) we have put information literacy on the agenda within CIT where we actively promote learning partnerships between the Faculties and the L&LC as a provider of support services. Our clients include those involved in curriculum design, delivery and the learners themselves.
As a member of the senior staff within CIT I take every opportunity to further enhance the role of the L&LC in a VET environment and continually work at raising our profile both within CIT and nationally through the National Working Group for TAFE Library Services as Convenor of that group.
A recent achievement has been the development and implementation of a complete Library Restructure which was fully implemented this year and resulted in budget savings of approximately $400,000.
In summary, my advice to all those involved in the information industry (be it at the beginning, middle or end of their professional career) the most marketable skills in the current environment is not only to maximise your involvement in new developments and major projects but to also build on measurable achievements. Remain client focused and innovative in the way you manage shrinking budgets. Not only do we need to be employed, but we also need to remain employable by enhancing our workplace skills through professional development.
Turn threats or limitations into opportunities and promote them to those who matter (i.e. the gatekeepers) within your organisation. Most importantly as managers we always need to remain people focused when managing client services in difficult times.
Last modified: 2001-03-03