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Becoming a librarian, in Canberra….

By nanzan - 7 May 2011 17

I am thinking of a career change – into librarianship – and would love to hear from anybody out there who is currently studying, or has recently studied, the Master of Arts in Information Studies (Librarianship) at the University of Canberra.

This is an online masters degree, and I am very interested to know what current or past students think of this course, and about working as a librarian in Canberra in general.

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Becoming a librarian, in Canberra….
tonkatuff82 9:45 am 09 May 11

nanzan said :

Thank you for those comments – quite a range of information there!

I am a university TESOL teacher at the moment…but the international student numbers aren’t what they used to be…and work is not as reliable as it once was (I am casual…as many TESOL teachers are).

I was hoping to pick up library-type work while doing the course as well, but I am not sure how likely that is. Do libraries – such as the NLA, university libraries etc – employ student librarians I wonder?

And yes, the ALIA web site has been really helpful – that’s where I found out about the UC online master’s degree.

The casual work is very likely, not so much student librarian stuff, but a whole range of other positions. It’s also a good way to see if you really like the environment. As I said previously, they all have casual registers, and your teaching experience will be looked upon quite favorably.

tonkatuff82 9:35 am 09 May 11

staminaman62 said :

DO NOT attempt a career as a librarian. In an age when people can google information – and full text of most monograms is just around the corner – there is just no future in it. In every government department I have worked in you get the dept librarian coming around to give a lecture on the services they offer. It’s a blatant effort to try to appear relevant when they know individuals can find information themselves. You go to the departmental library maintained at great expense by the Australian taxpayer and you can shoot a canon through it without hitting anyone. Why? Because it’s empty of users!

Yes! the google-machine will tell you everything you need to know, including the full text of most monograms… which shouldn’t be hard because they are only two characters. Before you say it, I know you meant monographs, but did you?

Lazy I 8:55 pm 08 May 11

Stevian said :

staminaman62 said :

DO NOT attempt a career as a librarian. In an age when people can google information – and full text of most monograms is just around the corner – there is just no future in it. In every government department I have worked in you get the dept librarian coming around to give a lecture on the services they offer. It’s a blatant effort to try to appear relevant when they know individuals can find information themselves. You go to the departmental library maintained at great expense by the Australian taxpayer and you can shoot a canon through it without hitting anyone. Why? Because it’s empty of users!

That’s more of a case of deliberately cultivated ignorance, but you can’t be expected to tell the difference, with an IQ of single figures.

Ahh, some quality dead-tree library elitest drivel… “if you don’t use traditional libraries you’re both ignorant and stupid! and while i’m at it, vinyl is better because it sounds ‘warmer’!”

I agree with staminaman62, and the experiences he describes are exactly what I have witnessed.

Would love to elaborate but I have to go.. the ice man is knocking on my door, he’s got a new delivery of ice to restock my icebox so my groceries don’t go bad.

staminaman62 7:28 pm 08 May 11

That’s more of a case of deliberately cultivated ignorance, but you can’t be expected to tell the difference, with an IQ of single figures.

Hmm, I’m guessing you’re a librarian. Feeling threatened?

Stevian 7:02 pm 08 May 11

staminaman62 said :

DO NOT attempt a career as a librarian. In an age when people can google information – and full text of most monograms is just around the corner – there is just no future in it. In every government department I have worked in you get the dept librarian coming around to give a lecture on the services they offer. It’s a blatant effort to try to appear relevant when they know individuals can find information themselves. You go to the departmental library maintained at great expense by the Australian taxpayer and you can shoot a canon through it without hitting anyone. Why? Because it’s empty of users!

That’s more of a case of deliberately cultivated ignorance, but you can’t be expected to tell the difference, with an IQ of single figures.

SSrb 5:31 pm 08 May 11

I can’t comment on the UC course, but CSU has probably the most established library school which publishes the texts that other schools use. However, there are definitely advantages in being able to access your school’s libraries and teachers in person when you need to.

In my experience, and from what I’ve heard, it’s hard to get a permanent job in any city without paying your dues first. You’ll probably find you won’t get too many interviews until you’ve got a bit of contract/casual work under your belt (I lucked into a management role in the country). However, the light on the horizon in regards to career progression is the mass retirement of the boomers.

I worked casually in an academic library while doing my degree. They often have a register for casual workers. These don’t hurt, but often the problem is that you are doing ‘assistant’ duties quite removed from the librarians.

Don’t be too deterred by the negativity above. Copyright and ridiculous access charges for databases will keep Google from killing off library services for a while yet. Full-text search is only useful if someone is maintaining a database for people to search etc.

There are also still an awful lot of people who can’t sort good information from bad. “But Wikipedia said…” Grr.

r1 12:38 am 08 May 11

Make sure your lesbianism is up to date….

trevar 12:34 am 08 May 11

staminaman62 said :

DO NOT attempt a career as a librarian. In an age when people can google information – and full text of most monograms is just around the corner – there is just no future in it. In every government department I have worked in you get the dept librarian coming around to give a lecture on the services they offer. It’s a blatant effort to try to appear relevant when they know individuals can find information themselves. You go to the departmental library maintained at great expense by the Australian taxpayer and you can shoot a canon through it without hitting anyone. Why? Because it’s empty of users!

I suspect the individuals you’re talking about are indeed irrelevant, but that’s not the case with public libraries, as far as I can tell. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a few of those in the nosebleed section of ACT libraries, and they’re anything but obsolete. They remain an important part of community infrastructure, and are very well aware that libraries are at a point of change, and they seem to me to relish the opportunity to rethink what libraries are for.

Nanzan, if you merely want to be an information technologist (which has been an appropriate description for what we should more affectionately call a librarian since the ancient Egyptians invented the library), that’s all well and good, but be aware that the field is in a state of flux and it will be changing rapidly. I would recommend combining information studies with some kind of community development studies; I think this would make you particularly attractive to the very forward-thinking individuals currently running ACT libraries, and I suspect would also put you in a good place as regards other libraries in the future. Actually, your TESOL experience would be very valuable to community libraries, so make sure you highlight it in your resume at the other end of your studies.

nanzan 11:27 pm 07 May 11

Thank you for those comments – quite a range of information there!

I am a university TESOL teacher at the moment…but the international student numbers aren’t what they used to be…and work is not as reliable as it once was (I am casual…as many TESOL teachers are).

I was hoping to pick up library-type work while doing the course as well, but I am not sure how likely that is. Do libraries – such as the NLA, university libraries etc – employ student librarians I wonder?

And yes, the ALIA web site has been really helpful – that’s where I found out about the UC online master’s degree.

staminaman62 10:25 pm 07 May 11

staminaman62 said :

DO NOT attempt a career as a librarian. In an age when people can google information – and full text of most monograph is just around the corner – there is just no future in it. In every government department I have worked in you get the dept librarian coming around to give a lecture on the services they offer. It’s a blatant effort to try to appear relevant when they know individuals can find information themselves. You go to the departmental library maintained at great expense by the Australian taxpayer and you can shoot a canon through it without hitting anyone. Why? Because it’s empty of users!

staminaman62 10:20 pm 07 May 11

DO NOT attempt a career as a librarian. In an age when people can google information – and full text of most monograms is just around the corner – there is just no future in it. In every government department I have worked in you get the dept librarian coming around to give a lecture on the services they offer. It’s a blatant effort to try to appear relevant when they know individuals can find information themselves. You go to the departmental library maintained at great expense by the Australian taxpayer and you can shoot a canon through it without hitting anyone. Why? Because it’s empty of users!

damien haas 4:11 pm 07 May 11

A friend of mine had a girlfriend who was a librarian, and she would get awfully snooty when you referred to her as a librarian, she was an ‘informaion technologist’.

miz 3:42 pm 07 May 11

I can only comment about working as a librarian in Canberra, and ways of getting into the actual job. My Mum was a librarian in the ACT LIbraries system some years back and found certain aspects very frustrating.

When I was job seeking myself, I fancied working in a library but was advised that you had to start as a volunteer. I wasn’t prepared to do so as I needed a paid job. And I have to say I though it pretty poor that the system is reliant on unpaid labour. However, that explains why so many books are out of place! So I would want to know whether voluntary work is still an expected recruitment pre-condition.

My other real frustration with the ACT Library service is that it is inevitably closed on the days you really want to go there, notably public hols and in the days between Xmas and NY when you’ve run out of reading material and there is NOTHING on telly.

darakat 12:01 pm 07 May 11

Hi, I haven’t done the degree but I am a Librarian. I work at the NLA. I think the best resource you can have is probably ALIA (http://www.alia.org.au/ ) they list all the recognised courses in Librarianship and have a lot of tips on how to become a librarian. Good luck!

tonkatuff82 10:09 am 07 May 11

I haven’t done the UC course, but I’m currently studying a postgrad dip in archives and records at ECU. The ECU course is really good.

The abundance of cultural institutions in Canberra is a blessing, but they also get to head-hunt the best. I have worked in three of them, and have thoroughly enjoyed them all (I’m an archivist). My advice would be to apply, apply, and apply to every library and cultural institution’s casual register before you even start studying. There are a lot of people that want these jobs. Don’t work in your old career, hoping that once you’ve got the masters you are guaranteed a job in your new one. While it will be beneficial, it is not a guarantee. You’re better off going for a box-chucker job and working your way up from there, from within the institution (NLA, NAA, NFSA etc). It’s likely that if you’re good, you’ll progress very quickly. If you’re not, you always have your old career.

What is your current career if you don’t mind me asking?

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