I met Chris O’Malley in Australia. I was very interested to hear about the trainee program he’s in. I asked him to write a little bit about it for TTW:
Librarianship is a competitive profession to break into. Getting that first professional role was a proud moment for me, which felt like the culmination of a lot of study, a lot of thought about where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, and even dealing with a little rejection along the way. This seems to be a reasonably common experience. Of course, now I have broken through that barrier, there are many more that I have faced and am yet to face. Maybe another story for another time.
My chance to enter into the profession came through a program run by Flinders University Library (Adelaide, South Australia). Officially titled the ‘Flinders University Graduate Trainee Librarian Program’, it has been running for about 15 years now, and is still going strong. The traineeship is 3 years in length, and is specifically targeted at librarians who are newly qualified or who have yet to have their first opportunity at a qualified role. I’m currently about 15 months into my 3 years, and have recently started my second placement in the library. My first gig was in Cataloguing, and although at times it seems to be a maligned art, I must admit that I liked it. It gives a good foundation for a whole realm of librarianship, and has influenced me even when weighing in to debates such as the merits of folksonomical and taxanomical classification.
Non-librarian friends don’t quite get as enthused at times about such things, funnily enough.
Part of the program is that each trainee changes roles at least once in order to gain a diversity of skills and understanding, but some do change more than once. I am now about 2 months into my second role, which is a dual role in the Law Library and the Special Collections.
The Law Library aspect has a large reference component to it, amoungst other duties. The Special Collections is part library, part archive, and if I don’t mention it too much I’ll be able to lure the curious of you out there to check it out at:
The learning curve again is steep, and the dual job both interesting and rewarding. I’ve found that the traineeship has been a great way for me to enter into the world of librarianship. The following is the link to the pages which show the history, philosophy and objectives of the program, as well as some past and current trainee experiences.
There are a number of different ways for organisations to think about new librarians. It will be interesting to see if this traineeship resonates as an option for anyone out there reading this.