I went to Adelaide for NLS9 – the ALIA New Librarians Symposium.
It was the first time I’d been to an NLS. I also had a horrific cold which sucked the energy and the extrovertism out of me.
I felt a bit like this frogcake:
I’ve created a Twitter Moment with all my tweets from the conference, so I’m not going to spend too much time repeating them here.
In my last post, I wrote down what I hoped to get out of NLS9, cold notwithstanding. Here’s how I went…
Goal 1: Three useful ideas
I wanted to gain three ideas – skills, practices, ideas or tools – that I could use in my career. I think I got that.
#1 – The Effective Way to Speak Truth to Power
In her talk on being the new kid in town, Jessica Howie explained that research has shown the most effective way to argue for change in an organisation is to first have built a reputation for excelling at your work.
That makes sense. There’s no point in trying to tell a company how to do things better if you haven’t first proved you know what you’re talking about.
(There are, obviously, problems with this when it comes to reporting harassment or abuse: new starters are vulnerable because they haven’t built up a reputation yet, and the quality of work often suffers if someone is being harassed. You still need strong organisational procedures that can counter this bias.)
#2 – The Annual Report
Deborah Brown from Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College in North Sydney talked about how she creates an annual report for her library to show how it supports the schools strategic goals, and demonstrate its value to staff, students and the community.
The big lesson here: it’s not enough to just do a good job. You need to be able to sell your value to others.
It’s also a useful tool to track progress. I left the session thinking about writing a personal annual report record how I’m going in my personal goals.
#3 – Talk with marginalised groups, not on behalf of them
This came up in Nikki Anderson’s talk on Deviating With Diversity, and Craig Middleton’s keynote on queering museums to make them more inclusive.
If you want to include marginalised communities, you need to spend time talking with them, and listening to them, and earning their trust.
Related: I picked up a copy of Making Spaces Safer by Shawna Potter while I was in Adelaide. I’m not sure when or how I’ll get to use the advice it contains, but it seems like one day it’ll be useful.
Goal 2: A better understanding of the sector.
I’ve never actually worked in a library. I even contributed a comic about it to the NLS zine. What did I learn about the industry at NLS(?
I learnt there are a lot of passionate librarians determined to make their libraries more inclusive.
I learnt that there are still lots of historical obstacles to that goal, from subject headings in metadata to the fraught relationship between Indigenous and settler ways of knowing.
I learnt there’s an ongoing need spruik the value of libraries.
What wasn’t discussed was whether there will be a future…
No libraries on a dead planet
While I was at NLS9, Professor Jem Bendell posted A Year of Deep Adaptation. Deep Adaptation was his paper that argues that societal collapse due to climate catastrophe is now inevitable.
I haven’t read that paper yet. I don’t feel strong enough.
But there’s no point planning out a career in the library industry if there’s no libraries left to work in. At some stage I’m going to have to read these reports, and think about what this means.
One of my goals for NLS9 was to touch base with my motivations. This has to be part of it.
Okay. After that cheery thought, here’s a panda from Adelaide Zoo…