I’ve just gotten back into the swing of things after the Fifth New Librarians’ Symposium and Library Camp Australia in Perth this past weekend. I’ve come away with a few key messages in my mind, and wanted to share some of these. I should warn you, this post was written on the train yesterday morning at 6am after catching the red eye out of Perth the night before, so expect a degree of incoherency!
Authenticity is key
The most important thing any presenter takes onto the stage with them is their very own style. Tips about how fast to talk, how you should move, and how you shouldn’t say ummmm are all well and good, but the people you’re presenting to are there to see you, not some formulaic presentation. It’s about being yourself and being authentic. It’s okay that I don’t have the energy of Kathryn Greenhill or the quick wit and unconventional style of Mal Booth. It’s okay if I say umm a bit and, if I want to swear for emphasis and I think my audience can handle it, that’s okay too. NLS5 marked my first ever keynote and boy was I packing it heading up onto that stage following in Mal Booth’s wake. But the inimitable Ms Greenhill told me good presenting is about being authentically ‘you’. I didn’t believe her. Until I watched others enact their authentic selves on the stage. That was a big learning for me.
It’s time to step up
At both NLS5 and Library Camp Australia I heard too many people say that depite encouragement and offers of financial support for attendance, they could not inspire their new graduates to get to these events. Some just weren’t interested; others didn’t want to sacrifice their weekend (even if offered time off in lieu). This makes me want to tear my hair out. And it makes me want to shout out two words: Step. Up. New grads, step up and get engaged. Take charge of your careers and make the most of opportunities that are being handed to you on a plate while many of your peers are fighting for those same opportunities (or making those opportunities for themselves by self funding conference registration and a none-too-cheap trip to Perth, taking annual leave, and stepping off a long flight from Perth after an exhausting weekend to get straight back into the work the very next day. To library educators (and I’m talking to myself here, too): step up and inspire your students. Send them out into the profession so supercharged and energetic and hungry for more learning that they’ll do whatever it takes to look after their PD, and they’d never dream of turning down an opportunity to go to something like the New Librarians’ Symposium.
Balance is on everyone’s minds
Kids or no kids; casual job or mega management role; librarian or not… Many of us are struggling to find balance in our lives. For some of us, that’s because we put too much pressure on ourselves to achieve – and to achieve perfection. For others, it’s simply a matter of the sheer volume of ‘stuff’ in our lives. I am a firm believer that we can have it all, but not all at the same time. For many of us, this weekend made us stop and think about the pace at which we’re living our lives, and in many cases, we discovered it was passing us by in a blur. There are two simple things we can do to make our lives a little less frantic.
Firstly, we can stop measuring our own worth against the successes of others. This is sheer craziness on so many levels. You’re not that other person! You have different skills and knowledge and aspirations and contexts. You are also not privy to the inner workings of these other people’s lives. You may just find you’re aspiring to be like someone whose personal life is a shambles or who hates the fact they have to work a million hours a day or who has made sacrifices you aren’t willing to make. You’re you. Find your own dream, your own picture of balance, and live it.
Secondly, you can make small changes to begin to redress the balance. In October, you’ll find a bunch of librarians doing #lunchtober, where we will take a lunch break every day. If you’re like me and fortunate enough to work from home, some days you might even do #naptober, where instead of taking a break to eat, you take a break to have a nap. It’s about being mindful – remembering to stop and chill a bit during our busy days.
I’m not Wonder Woman
I realised I have limits and I need to be mindful of them. Traveling is tiring and when you’re sick to boot, tweetups and post dinner drinks aren’t the best ways to spend your time. This conference, I learned it’s okay to admit defeat and head home early, even when the cool kids are carrying on. I also learned it’s okay to skip a session, sit in a corner, and catch up with friends old and new.
I may be a geek for loving research and data and evaluation, but I am by no means alone, even amongst the crowd of newly minted librarians.
Our students are full of win
All three QUT students at Library Camp Australia put themselves out there by proposing topics for discussion; two of them facilitated sessions; and one of them championed a relational view of information literacy, encouraging participants to step back from breaking literacies down into categories, and to consider literacy from an experiential view point. Boy was I proud. At NLS5, Alisa Howlett did a fantastic job of her paper on developing personal learning networks and I was proud as punch. Way to represent, guys!
Sometimes the people you connect with online are even more awesome IRL
I learned that a PLN is even better after you get to connect the Twitter handles and avatars with a real person.
I’ve also come away with a few challenges:
- to get the #ccvid4lib project off the ground with the help of the awesome people I met at Library Camp Oz (a post on this is coming soon)
- to help the local New Grads Group get an NLS reprise event off the ground to catch up all the local new graduates and students who didn’t make it to Perth
- to help get a Library Camp Brisbane off the ground, now we’ve seen how the pros do it
Not so new anymore…
I’ve been to three NLS’s now and this will probably be my last. This one had a different vibe than the others. It was upbeat. People were positive about the future of our profession, and willing to get involved in shaping it. It was a pleasure to be there and a privilege to give a keynote. Thanks to the committee for putting on a fab NLS, and for asking me along to speak, and thanks also to the Library Camp unorganisers for a fabulous day of informal learning.