Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Reporting for duty

Last weekend (December 1st and 2nd) the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) held its third New Librarians' Symposium at the impressive John Niland Scientia building on the campus of the University of New South Wales in Sydney. It was great to be able to attend; not only to meet other relatively new librarians and information professionals from around Australia, but to also rub shoulders with some of ALIA's movers and shakers, such as Vice President Roxanne Missingham, with whom I had a brief conversation on a coach returning from a cocktail party at the State Library of New South Wales. Their passion for their work is infectious. The organising committee deserve credit for organising such a quality programme. New and emerging technologies are having a great impact on the field, and I attended sessions on federated searching, adapting open source software and wikis for use in libraries, and working overseas.

There are also professional and ethical issues to consider. One of these, which has become prevalent since the tragic events of September 2001, is freedom of information. ALIA strongly believes that freedom of information is a democratic right. In some libraries, as we have seen, access to print and electronic materials has been monitored, and potentially suspicious activities reported to the authorities, with serious consequences for the individuals concerned.

Several sessions touched on the issue of leadership. Some people have leadership ambitions, while others, such as me, have leadership responsibilities thrust upon them. Being a good leader not only requires high levels of personal integrity, but also vision and a high level of people skills. Rather than having people follow you by being overbearing, this means taking them with you. In other words, your leadership comes from being the sort of person others want to follow willingly. You should want to take your organisation along with you.

My overall impressions were that it was a great conference, and one that I found well worthwhile attending. The quality of this conference is reflected in the number of delegates who attended. There were 280 delegates from all over Australia and some from overseas. I hope that it will benefit my career, and more importantly that as we plan for the future of Kingsley College, it will also benefit from my attendance. More importantly still, as a Christian librarian, I hope that I was able to be a good witness for Christ among my peers.

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