conferences & events

APLIC Reflections: Part 2

hermit crab

This is Part 2 of a reflection mini-series on the Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference (APLIC). APLIC was held on the Gold Coast, from 30th July to 2nd August 2018. APLIC was put together by a joint effort between the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA), and Library Association of Singapore (LAS). You can read more about the conference and see the papers on the website.

I didn’t set out to write two posts (or 2000 odd words) on my APLIC experience, but here I am. Part 1 looked at my experience of a not-so-in-mid-career LIS professional, stepping out at an industry conference, employer funded and with a reputation of knowing a bit about evidence based practice. APLIC put a bit of a spotlight on my career progression so far and highlighted where I could end up going in the near future. If you’re interested in the experiences of a LIS professional ‘adolescent’, you can read Part 1 here.

Now, I did make a promise in Part 1 that I would share my takeaways in a format presented by the closing keynote, Dr Michael Stephens:

  • three sessions that amazed me
  • two concepts I will focus on going forward, and
  • one idea to apply immediately.

Three sessions that amazed me

Engagement Toolkit Workshop

I actually self-funded to attend this workshop and I am so glad I did. Led by Dr Kate Davis, Lyndelle Gunton and Kathleen Smeaton, we dived into qualitative research tools that can enable us to understand our clients’ experiences and make better service design decisions, conduct service evaluation and impact assessment. Kate walked us through frameworks such as design thinking, evidence based practice and a hybrid model that can provide ways to structure the research, design and story telling process. We looked at the research process, barriers to research and examples what makes a great research interview, and a not-so-great one. In groups, we discussed real-life problems and scenarios that could be solved by doing qualitative research. The workshop was jam-packed full of content and resources. I had a great day (despite it being my wedding anniversary).

Keynote presentation by Opeta Alefaio (Director of Archives Fiji)

Opeta shared an inspiring story about how a small number of people with very little funding can achieve so much impact in their community. Opeta led a small, yet passionate team at Archives Fiji to improve access to archival content and heritage. Archival services started as an unfunded activity to a $20K funded activity to now a $100K activity. By recognising the community need and overcoming challenges such as funding, Opeta and his team have brought Fiji archival heritage to remote villages and the world. I was fortunate to meet Opeta at lunchtime on Thursday where he told me you only need a few willing to give things a crack to make an impact. A lovely, very passionate person whom I hope to meet again one day….maybe in Fiji 🙂

Student Voices panel

This panel session heard about students’ experiences of library services. Students from Bond University, Griffith University and Southern Cross University gave honest accounts of how they use their university libraries, how university libraries are meeting, or not meeting their needs and what we need to think about when we deliver our services. This session was refreshing, but also potentially confronting for some. Library as place was viewed as integral to student life and experience.

The library might be the only place where students can concentrate and have what they need (eg. printers, internet, quiet) to complete their studies. Therefore, university libraries need to design their spaces in accordance with student needs and show students they care. Library spaces are not just for the ‘learning’ part of students’ lives. Students are people and will bring their whole selves into the library. It was brave of the APLIC organising committee to do this sort of session. I commend them for doing so.

Two concepts I will focus on

  1. Conversation: I am currently in a data collection process for a research project involving semi-structured interviews. The Engagement Toolkit workshop highlighted ways I could improve the interview questions and hopefully gather better data. APLIC also reminded me of the importance of conversation. Learning about our clients and understanding their experiences is a conversation. Engaging with each other’s stories, wins and lessons is a conversation. We grow through conversation.
  2. Do the things: I arrived on the morning of the first official day of APLIC (the Tuesday) flustered and anxious. Part of these feelings seem to have stemmed from career issues I raised in Part 1. Part of these also came from nowhere and took me back to pre-sabbatical last year. What the? So Lucy Bloom’s keynote presentation was one I needed to hear that morning. I needed to hear Lucy’s stories to sort of get over myself and just move forward and ‘do the things’. I also loved from Lucy, “It’s nice to be nice but you need to be bold to be heard”. Quite right, Lucy.

One thing I will apply immediately

I have joined the Pacific Libraries Network (email list) to look out for opportunities where I, or my workplace could lend a hand in the future. I have previously spent in Fiji, Samoa and the Solomon Islands and with the people I met. In 2014, I visited a remote village school in the Solomon Islands where friends and I contributed school supplies. How their eyes lit up! Mine too! Also, having worked in the archives sector, I can appreciate and imagine the kind of impact these services can have on communities. Australia is a part of the Pacific region and as a region, we should work together to bring out our identity and cultural heritage for the world to see.

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