Notes from Down Under: New Grads in Australia Part I

by Naomi Doessel

Hi! I am Naomi Doessel, an Information Literacy Librarian from Griffith University in Brisbane, Queensland. I have been actively involved in the Australian Library and Information Association for a few years now, primarily in new graduate initiatives. Sebastian has asked a few of us in Australia to share with you what we do down here, so I thought I would start with an overview of what is going on right now.

The new grad movement in Australia is young (about ten years) and pretty strong. However it waxes and wanes with people’s involvement, commitment, and there is a pretty constant revolving door as “new” new graduates make their way into the profession, and those who have been “new” become “not-so-new” and start to move out of the “new grads” camp and into… wherever suits them! One of the great things about new grads is that they are often coming up with new ideas and pushing boundaries, so this is a snapshot of where we sit now: not where we will be forever.

ALIA New Grads eList (Website)
ALIA eLists are not just for ALIA members – or even just for Aussies! While most of the events advertised on the lists will be in Australia, more and more there are virtual Professional Development events being offered, as well as discussions about professional issues and news shared. Also you will get to find out when our awesome conferences are on and when you might want to make a trip “down under” to visit us!

ALIA New Graduates Group (NGG) (Website | Blog)
The NGG is the localised, “grass roots” sector of the new grad movement in Australia. They provide a forum for new graduates to communicate and socialise with colleagues and build relationships and networks within the profession. The group aims to facilitate networking for the new generation of library professionals, provide a forum for the discussion of issues relevant to new professionals, organise meetings and training specifically relevant to students and new graduates, and facilitate the introduction of new graduates into the wider ALIA community. They have a blog, a facebook page, and a lot of the members tweet. There are currently active groups run by volunteers in all of our six states and one of our territories. The National NGG convenor, Andrew Finegan, also sits on NGAC (see below) to ensure effective communication between the two groups.

ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee (NGAC) (Website)
NGAC is an ALIA Board appointed advisory committee. We advise the ALIA Board on issues related to new graduates and students. Our main function is to discuss the strategic issues related to new graduate participation within ALIA, rather than actively putting on events, however members are often involved in their local area and conference organising committees also. When a position on an advisory committee is vacant, a call for expressions of interest is advertised and personal financial members of ALIA can nominate to join a committee. NGAC members are selected based on various factors including their expertise in the area of relevance, their ability to represent the organisation in a positive manner and contribute to the goals of ALIA. I Chaired NGAC for almost two years before stepping down to focus on my research (below), NGAC’s current Chair, Vanessa Warren, was the NGG Coordinator for Tasmania for two years prior to joining NGAC.

ALIA Access New Grads Stream Committee: Jo Beazley, Naomi Doessel (Co-coordinator), Rachel Wray (Co-coordinator), Bonnie Dixon
ALIA Access New Grads Stream Committee: Jo Beazley, Naomi Doessel (co-convenor), Rachel Wray (co-convenor), Bonnie Dixon

ALIA New Librarians Symposium (NLS) (Website)
NLS is a stand-alone conference for new graduates and students. It was devised in 2002 by ALIA’s current Executive Director, Sue Hutley. Sue saw a lack of professional development opportunities for new graduates and ran a two day symposium in Brisbane. NLS 1.5 was in Brisbane a year later, NLS2 was held in Adelaide in 2004, in 2006 it was in Sydney and 2008 saw it move to Melbourne. NGAC did a thorough review of NLS in 2008-2009, and recommended to the ALIA Board that NLS continue to be supported by ALIA as an important event for the next generation of library and information professionals.  Previous year’s conference papers are available online. In 2011 NLS5 is being held in Perth, back-to-back with the ALIA National Library and Information Technicians’ Conference. There will also be a Library Camp Perth at around the same time, so if you’ve ever wanted to visit the west coast of Australia (think Margaret River wine tours!) September 2011 will be a great time to do so! Abstract deadline is December 15th 2010 so get writing now!

ALIA Access New Grads Resume Reviews
ALIA Access New Grads Resume Reviews

ALIA Access: What next! Practical Information to Enhance the Career of New Graduates (Website)
In 2010 ALIA cancelled all its regular conferences as the IFLA Annual Congress was due to come to Brisbane. Unfortunately financial circumstances meant that the international conference was moved to Sweden, and in its stead a group of committed volunteers and ALIA staff members organised a multi-streamed conference, including a New Graduates day which was very successful. There was also a LibraryCamp which a lot of new grads attended and participated in. Conference papers are available on the website. Katherine Howard has blogged here about the conference, as have many others. A collation of some of the entries can be found on this Libraries Interact post.

ALIA Access New Grads Networking Bingo
ALIA Access New Grads Networking Bingo

Energise > Enthuse > Inspire (Website)
A column for and by new graduates, EEI has been running in ALIA’s monthly magazine inCite since 2003. EEI seeks to engage and inspire students and new graduates with the association and profession as a whole. Covering all aspects of LIS, EEI offers a glimpse into the many and varied careers, opportunities, networks, and prospects available to those entering or seeking to enter the profession. Having coordinated the column for four years, I am stepping down at the end of 2010 and the new coordinator Lesa Maclean is taking over.

ALIA Study Grant Award 2010 (Website)
Conference mentoring: Assisting new professionals to get the most out of ALIA conferences
The American Library Association (ALA) runs a similar program at their annual conference through their New Members Round Table. I have been awarded the 2010 ALIA Study Grant Award to pilot a conference mentoring project at ALIA Information Online Conference and Exhibition 2011. It will be an opportunity for first time attendees to meet someone more experienced in the industry and in conference participation, and to gain insight into the best way to approach a major conference. First timers are paired with more experienced delegates prior to the conference, and a conference focused mentoring relationship will be established. Watch this space for further details as nominations will open as just as soon as I get my ethics approval, and Sydney is beautiful in February!

A version of this article was first printed in inCite:
Doessel, N. (2010 April). Get involved! New Graduate participation in ALIA. inCite, 31(4), 25. Available from

A version of this article will also appear in LIANZA’s e-Library Life 16 November 2010.


Naomi Doessel

Naomi Doessel is an Information Literacy Librarian at Griffith University in sunny Brisbane, Queensland. She has worked in libraries since 2004 in academic, public and law libraries as well as in the corporate world in business research, in London and Melbourne. Naomi has been an Associate (professional) member of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and engaged in the Professional Development sheme (AALIA CP) since graduating from QUT in 2006. She coordinated the monthly new graduate’s column Energise > Enthuse > Inspire in inCite from 2006-2010. She has served on the New Generation Advisory Committee (NGAC) since 2008 and as Chair in 2009-2010. She is now focussed on an research project, as the 2010 ALIA Study Grant Award recipient Naomi is investigating conference mentoring via a trial at the 2011 ALIA Information Online Conference & Exhibition.

Contact: | Twitter | WordPress.

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