This is a report back from the SLIS Wellington meeting on 5 September 2013. The three speakers each talked about an aspect of career management/development.
Lynley Stone talked about the results of the career survey which she ran on behalf of LIANZA in 2012 in order to “gain a solid understanding how library careers evolve in our rapidly changing world“. There was a good response from librarians across the sector, including lots of thoughtful (and thought-provoking) comments. Lynley decided she’d include the comments in the report – which is partly why it’s so long. For this presentation she focused on some of the things she thought were important for librarians in special libraries to know.
- “Reality check: there is complacency from participants in traditional roles in larger libraries.” Special librarians by contrast were more aware of the need for a proactive attitude towards up-skilling, multiple roles, and the need for professional networking and support. (Apparently there were times during the analysis of the data when Lynley felt a bit depressed. I’m not surprised.)
- Themes around qualifications – lots of comments around this. Librarians need a qualification but it alone does not make you a good librarian; it needs to be current but does not need to be in Library and Information Services. Individuals need to know the most appropriate Library and Information Services qualification for the role they want to get.
- Themes around recruitment and applying for jobs – what to do, what not to do. Section 12 has more information on Career Development.
Kat Cuttriss, Campus Librarian at Massey University’s Wellington Campus, looked at career planning for staff. She used a very good metaphor about career flight paths, and described four types of staff. (She was looking at career planning from a manager’s point of view.)
- Eagle – is focused, ambitious, tenacious. Provide opportunities for them to use that in their current role, expect them to leave.
- Godwit – takes time out from libraries to do something else. Recognise and value their diverse experience.
- Kiwi – know what works for them and is happy where they are. Keep them challenged and engaged using opportunities in their current role. (Includes elsewhere in the organisation.
- Kea – enjoys difference and diversity, usually the first to volunteer for something new. Give plans and frameworks in order to help them focus.
There was lots of nodding during this section as people recognised themselves. Then she talked generally about having a fulfilling career.
- Aim for high job satisfaction as well as career progression.
- Look for opportunities for learning- including transferable skills.
- “Build your bridges, don’t burn them.” (The Library world is quite a small one.)
- Remember – if you don’t like something – Accept it OR Change it OR Get out.
Courtney Johnston, currently Director of Hutt City Museums (The Dowse) described her career to date. This includes working at the City Gallery, National Library, and Boost New Media. She said that there were two characteristics of her career – addition (adding other roles onto her official role), and following charismatic leaders. She had this advice:
- Be aware of the leadership style of the person you’re working for
- In a management role – prepare to get your kicks out of your team’s enjoyment of their jobs
- Aim high – jump for the jobs you think you can’t do.
- ‘Frame yourself’ – know what distinguishes you from your colleagues (or other applicants for the role)
- Do stuff around the edges – e.g. blog about your interests etc.
- Make sure your Position Description is up to date and reflects what you are actually doing
Themes from the evening:
- Know yourself – your skills, how you work
- Know others – their skills, the way they work
- Think strategically – you don’t need to get a new job to change what you’re doing.
- The importance of this kind of meeting to share information. (Other GLAM sectors do not have it as regularly.)