It’s ALIA election time!

Not so long ago I was encouraged to send in a nomination for a position on the  Board of Directors in the 2013 round of elections for the Australian Library and Information Association.  OK – happy to be considered, and like a novice I thought that this would be then left up to the voters to make their decisions.

Not long after, I received an email from Hugh Rundle, asking  me to respond to questions (by way of lobbying). Thinking about the worst possible environments where lobbying takes place (think politics) I pretty much declined to respond to his request.  Sorry Hugh! I thought it would be the wrong thing to do.  So what to do when Sue Mckerracher, ALIA’s Executive Director asks me “have you been busy lobbying”.  Oh oh – wake up call – I slept in – I’m supposed to lobby?

Too late to respond to Hugh, but I will write a few ideas down quickly (no, this is still not official lobbying!) because I am allowing the message below to be cross-posted to the ALIA Sydney blog.

Why am I standing?

It’s probably  stating the obvious, but I believe in doing anything and everything that I am personally able to do to support the growth of the library and information professions – including all its subsets and developing fields.  You can’t get better evidence of this passion than my move to Charles Sturt University as lecturer, followed by my appointment in 2013 as Courses Director for all the degree programs at undergraduate and postgraduate level in the School of Information Studies.

That should be enough, but that’s not me! I can’t leave well enough alone – I’m even helping to establish a new degree that will continue to help shape the future directions of who we are and what we are about. No one asked me to do that – but the truth is I can’t resist a challenge. I will never leave a single stone unturned in my enthusiasm for change and development. To be honest, I figured that as a member of the Board (unlikely as that would be, but let’s just hold that thought for a minute) I could do more of the stone-turning, innovation-pushing, future-thinking activities that have really epitomized what I have been doing in the last few years, and of which this blog is in some ways a digital record.

How can ALIA appeal to students and people entering the industry/profession?

ALIA has two key things to do in this area – membership growth and professional development  – and both are intertwined with who we are and what we want to be in the future.  We can ‘grow’ our students and new graduates by continuing to support them in providing strong state networks and excellence in professional events and professional development opportunities. Of course we can also engage through social media channels, and even explore the emerging potential of running customized ALIA MOOCs (for free), engaging in Google Hangouts and sharing professional insights, establishing more partnership programs (at cost), and more. As part of the new PD initiatives, we need to build enticements to keep people involved.   We want  our profession to grown, and we want our potential members to have a good reason for ‘banding together’ within their national professional association. A concerted effort to grow our profession can only strengthen the possibilities. Let’s reach out to potential members and offer them a reason to believe passionately in the profession they have just entered, whether they are students or recent graduates.

What are some of the advocacy issues you would like to see ALIA address?

There are many advocacy issues at the local and national level.   Some of these result in campaigns, some in lobbying of state and federal governments, and some in picking up a community agenda an working at raising the profile of an essential or worthy cause.  How to choose?  Copyright; DRM; Open Access; funding support in education sectors; school libraries; special libraries; the  digital divide; accessibility and information access; and more. We need solid national statistics and profiles to build library  futures. Regional and rural issues are also close to my heart.  I’m from Albury, originally, and long before computers and online access arrived, the library was my home and my holiday space. Now I work with students in rural and outback Australia, both in our library programs, but also in school education.  I KNOW the challenges (do you have to climb up a ladder to get 3G?, or still share a phone/modem line?), and at the same time I believe that library and information services are at the heart of equity in providing solutions in those communities.

But how about promotional advocacy?  I love how some libraries are becoming makerspaces, and other libraries are connecting to their communities in new and creative ways. What about advocating for funding for innovative ventures? Let’s take the idea of hacker spaces and create coding workshops in our libraries. ALIA advocacy can take us into new issues and new spaces as well as those we are traditionally known for.  At the end of the day, when it comes to advocacy and issues to lobby about, it’s the ‘voice’ and the volume of the voice that counts. Alyson wrote about this recently in Why should you join ALIA? – and it really does prove the point of being collaborative and collective in action as part of our planned advocacy. (You should vote for Alison!)

How can ALIA reach out and engage with people working in special libraries or other areas where they feel better served by other associations? (eg law librarians with ALLA, teacher librarians with ASLA).

Special libraries are places with a dedicated heart!  They have a very special story to share with the broader community, and it is this that we need to tap into and share within our profession and in our communities. We can serve our special libraries by understanding their needs better, and getting our hands dirty with some good old-fashioned marketing and promotion. If we can serve our special libraries better, then we can strengthen the profession as a whole. This will take some clear initiatives by ALIA to step out of the ‘them’ and ‘us’ zone. Possibly that problem lies in the label ‘special’ with connotations of ‘different’ and ‘less equal’. For me, what special libraries do is help add value through specialist knowledge to inform broader practice. While specialist associations have value, they can never replace the role of ALIA in the holistic marketing and promotion of our profession. Alternatively, by not embracing partnerships with specialisations (and their related associations) we actually narrow the true potential of the library and information profession to become more than the sum of it’s many parts. We MUST form strong partnerships and alliances with our specialist partners, to share information, to negotiate favorable partnership rates to key events and activities, and support these associations on the national front.

Is anything you would like to let our readers know about you and what you would like to accomplish as a board member?

I had no idea that I would be answering a question like this when I signed the nomination form. But the fact that the question is being asked is a true indicator that being a Board member is a serious personal professional commitment. There is no money that will exchange hands. I wouldn’t be able to strike a  bargain with the global timekeeper to even make this fit into my already busy schedule.

But you know what they say – “if you want a job done, ask a busy person”.

What I always want more than anything else is the opportunity to make a difference – however little – to achieve progress, innovation, and change.  I don’t need to share much about myself that isn’t revealed by the story of what has been happening since I started blogging at Heyjude.

I’ve nominated because I would love the chance to help  make a difference, and to put something back into the profession that I qualified in back in 1992.  I’m not an academic that works in a silo – rather I’m a people person grounded in the daily reality of the demands and dimensions of our information environments.  I belong to the era of collaboration, social networking, and sharing the information discovery.  I build knowledge with my peers. I work with kids and adults in schools. I work with teacher librarians building the best library experiences for their students. I work with public librarians building their social media skills. I share the joy of my students who secure the job of their dreams!  And most importantly, in my day job I build the profession by working with undergraduate and masters students coming into or refreshing their professional futures.

What do I want to accomplish?  Anything really – just throw me the challenge!

Image:  cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by H is for Home

Australian national 13 Project helping kids stay safe online

Library associations across Australia have announced the 13 Project, to strengthen the participation of school library staff in schools’ efforts to help keep their students safer online.

Every parent fears their child being bullied, and cyber-bullying has added an extra layer to the threat. The 13 Project recognizes the special role of school libraries as a place where students often access online resources, and the opportunity library staff have to promote cyber-safety information.  The 13 Project complements other school initiatives to deal with cyber-safety by positioning school library staff as having an important role in keeping students safe online.

In November last year, School Education Minister Peter Garrett said, ‘A 2009 Edith Cowan University report on covert bullying gave us a staggering statistic: one in six students are bullied weekly. A quarter of students between Year 4 and Year 9 reported being bullied at least once over the few weeks the research was undertaken. One in five students has experienced some form of cyber-bullying. This means every family either has a child, or knows one, who is being bullied at school … No child should have to go through this.’

Through the 13 Project, school library teams will have access to web-based resources and information fact sheets to guide students and parents, and industry partner Softlink will be conducting research into school libraries and cyber-safety as part of its annual Australian School Library Survey.

13 Project partners include The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the  Australian School Library Association (ASLA). These are the only two library associations able to  represent school library interests at national level and by working in partnership are showing us the way forward in representing the profession. These two partners are joined by Softlink, a company which has been exclusively dedicated to the development and support of advanced integrated knowledge, content and library management solutions for school libraries for some 30 years. (Softlink is known for their support of school libraries through their annual survey and through their recent generous sponsorship of the discussion list for Australian Teacher Librarians at OZTL_NET).

The library associations are partnering with the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy for National Cybersafety Awareness Week, to promote being safe online through displays, events and activities right across the country. The campaign will roll out over 2013, with the main launch event taking place around National Cybersafety Awareness Week, starting on 20 May, 2013.

One activity that school libraries can be involved in is National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence on 15 March Australian education authorities support this national day through the Safe and Supportive School Communities Project.

So why the name 13 Project?  The initiative takes its name from the year, 2013, the recommended minimum age for interaction with social media (Facebook), 13, and the launch date Friday 1 March 2013 (1/3/13).

I’m delighted to learn about this new initiative.  The work of our national library associations, ALIA and ASLA, is vital to the futures of our school libraries. It is the role of these two organizations to foster and promote the future of school libraries.

No state, regional or lobby group should ever work in isolation from these two significant associations. School libraries and teacher librarians need our national associations now more than ever. 

Image:Girls sharing cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by jasonstaten