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- FEATURE ARTICLE
- Learning to lead libraries
- What kids know (and don't know) about technology
- Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools
- From little things big things grow
- Diversity Challenge Resilience: School Libraries in Action
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Learning to lead libraries
The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) New South Wales Library Technicians Group, based in Sydney, has run their Leadership for Library Technicians workshops over the last two years. The courses have been under the leadership of Kevin Dudeney, Library Technician, New South Wales Department of Corrective Services and Victor Davidson, Teacher Librarian, Birrong Girls High School. Participants have been challenged and rewarded when attending these one-day workshops.
Their purpose has been to help library technicians, assistants, officers and library school administrative officers to become more aware of their own professional standing in the workplace. Every member of a library team, whether working in private enterprise or the education sector, has the potential to be a leader.
Workshops provide participants with knowledge of power within organisations, leadership styles, and the distinction between managing and leading, by identifying the skills and behaviours of good leaders and providing practical ideas for library personnel to develop these qualities. You don’t have to have the top job to be a leader!
Attendance at each workshop has been limited to 20 participants per session. The small size of the groups, together with the hands-on style of delivery, has kept the groups interacting on a personal level, and encouraged discussion and questioning between participants and facilitators. Theory is interspersed with games and activities – a combination that has been effective and well-received, according to the participant evaluations made after each event.
A leadership game in action at a Leadership for Library Technicians workshop
Since its inception in November 2007, we have held five workshops in total, three on a Saturday and two during the week. Whenever we announce a new workshop, the same employers send more of their staff, and we never have problems filling the training centre room, especially on weekdays. These workshops not only give us the opportunity to widen our ALIA NSW Library Technicians Group membership but also enable us to form new friendships in our library community. Through regular contact via our database, we hope to be able to further foster their interest in our professional organisation and assist them to pursue professional learning on a new level.
The New South Wales Department of Corrective Services has been generous in providing facilities at their training centre, free of charge, for all of our leadership workshops. This has helped us run these programs at a much reduced cost, which we believe has been one of the major attractions for employers in sending their library employees to our workshops.
As Convenor of the Library Technicians Group and a professional working in the school sector, I have been encouraging those who have shown an interest from schools to join in. My own experience has proven that when mixing with other library workers outside the school arena, we can learn a great deal about our diverse library community and the benefits that can be made from associating with our peers. School library non-teaching staff often don’t see the career path that can be forged by pursuing a wider interest in their profession. There is no reason why they too can’t be professional in their approach and become passionate in what they do. It has been a pleasure organising these workshops, especially when, after conversing by email, we get to meet the participants and see how enthused they are in the activities.
Kevin has also led this workshop in other states and with me at the National Library Technicians Conference in Adelaide in 2009.
Our group has promoted numerous events over the past years through ALIA. The more recent ones this year have been a tour of the new library community facility at Thirroul in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, with special emphasis on their Living Library Program and RFID, and our second ‘UnConference’ at the Australian Catholic University in North Sydney. We invite any non-teaching library staff who are interested in finding out more about our group and its activities to email me at the address below.
New workshop series
We are now embarking on the next level of our program by introducing Leadership 2. This is the result of numerous requests for more of the same from those attending our Leadership for Library Technicians workshops. We will continue liaising with these colleagues to follow up on their progress. At our Leadership 2 workshops we are encouraging participants to share their experiences since we last met and provide group suggestions on how they can each further improve their leadership situations in their workplaces. This will also give us feedback on how we can further improve our first workshop series.
We look forward to further exploring avenues to achieve that elusive goal of assisting ‘schoolies’ (non-teaching library staff) to upskill, linking their imagination with leadership.
Birrong Girls High School, New South Wales
ALIA NSW Library Technicians Group Convenor