Text by: Chris and Jo
At the end of June 2017, HKLC coordinators Chris and Jo headed to chilly Canberra, the Australian national capital, for a very unique conference experience: the New Librarians Symposium (NLS). NLS is specifically geared towards new graduates and LIS students, and the conference goal is to “provide a welcoming environment for young and established professionals to exchange ideas and make connections across the industry.” The atmosphere of the conference is enthusiastic and energetic, with the conference organisers encouraging participants to have fun, experiment with new tools and engage with new and sometimes challenging ideas.
Our motivation to attend the conference was to share what Hong Kong Libraries Connect (HKLC) has achieved and the challenges we faced in establishing a community that provides opportunities for library professionals and students to collaborate across geographical borders. You can read what people were tweeting about during our session via the below Storify (a curated selection of tweets):
In addition to our presentation, we participated actively as delegates during the conference. The unique mandate of the conference lead to an enormously varied program of workshops and presentations. For example:
- Dr. Matt Finch, currently at the University of Southern Queensland, facilitated a role-playing session where he invited us to “step into the shoes of a librarian, community member, or government official in a fictional country, to explore the challenges and opportunities in those roles and relationships.”
- Sue Reynolds (Senior IM Lecturer at RMIT) and Mary Carroll (Senior IM Lecturer and Course Directer at CSU) conducted a motivational session in which they encouraged us to ‘gaze into the crystal ball’ to think about what kind of professional we want to be in the future (they even gave us our own crystal balls!).
- And Madelin Meddlycott & Michael Hawks from Queensland University of Technology who conducted a gamified workshop called ‘Librarians and Dragons’ that encouraged attendees to “develop their own character profiles, focusing on their abilities (transferable skills), legendary items (qualifications) and completed trials (experience)” to be best prepared for the next Library Quest!
We must give a shout out to the International Librarians Network (ILN) who gave the first keynote presentation on the Saturday morning of the conference. Clare McKenzie, Kate Byrne and Alyson Dalby talked about their journey of founding and maintaining the ILN, what has inspired them, what has been challenging, and what they hope for the future of the ILN. If it were not for the International Librarians Network, HKLC would not have been born! The ILN leaders have demonstrated how the motivation and teamwork of a small group of librarians can impact our profession positively. Even though ILN have recently ceased the international peer mentoring program, they continue to be active online. If you do not already know about their work please do check out their blog, which documents the amazing work done by inspirational librarians across the globe!
We wish we could talk about every single presentation we attended but we would never be able to stop writing! If you would like to know more, be sure to check the #NLS8 hashtag on Twitter - there is still a lot of discussion happening online even though the conference ended two weeks ago!
The conference organisers’ creativity extended beyond the keynotes, workshops and presentations and into the conference space itself. In addition to the regular lunch break area, the organisers created a ‘Breakout Space’ where delegates could meet representatives from a number of key Australian services and advocacy groups, take part in the State Library of Queensland’s Face Swap booth, listen to delegates with diverse social and cultural backgrounds share their stories, or even just sit down and take a break in a comfy environment. Plus, the whole conference was gamified - delegates could participate in a number of online and face to face challenges to win prizes (and glory!)
Overall, the conference reinforced our urge to be creative, to try new things, and to persevere in the face of all the usual challenges that library professionals face. We are encouraged by the excellent work being done by active and forward-thinking library professionals and students who energise library practice. Our sincere thanks to the conference organisers and volunteers for such a fun and vibrant conference! We hope some of our readers are inspired to attend NLS9 in 2019! We definitely recommend it :)