Taking your career outside the square: from cosmopolitan Melbourne to the tropical islands of Samoa Susanne Newton Austral...
A taste of Samoa <ul><li>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYM72hUUkzU   </li></ul>
What is AYAD? <ul><li>A government funded program sending 400 skilled volunteers a year to developing nations in Asia, the...
Samoa <ul><li>A group of islands in the South Pacific, halfway between Australia and Hawaii </li></ul><ul><li>Population o...
 
 
 
 
 
 
My role  <ul><li>Library Management Officer at the National University of Samoa </li></ul><ul><li>12 month position </li><...
 
Libraries in Samoa  <ul><li>One dated public library with two branches serves the population of 200,000 Samoans.  </li></u...
Libraries in Samoa <ul><li>Approximately five ‘bookshops’ in Samoa, mainly selling stationary and religious texts </li></u...
Nightmare!
 
 
My assignment aims:  <ul><li>Market the new law collection  </li></ul><ul><li>Liaise with the Australian Attorney General’...
The assignment aims: <ul><li>Educate library users in IT and using the collection </li></ul><ul><li>Undertake reference an...
Plus all the other stuff:  <ul><li>Lecturing 40+ young Samoans  </li></ul><ul><li>Being on the Library Association of Samo...
Achievements : Library Week <ul><li>National Library Week through the Library Association of Samoa </li></ul><ul><ul><li>S...
 
 
 
 
 
 
Achievements: Lecturing  <ul><li>Lectured on a course teaching 40 young Samoans to work in school libraries </li></ul><ul>...
 
 
 
Achievements: Law Library Twinning Program <ul><li>Well run program matching an Australian Law Library with a Pacific Law ...
 
Achievements: Post-tsunami recovery <ul><li>Samoan tsunami hit on September 29, killing over 150, affecting everyone in Sa...
 
 
 
 
Challenges  <ul><li>The tsunami. Information management skills were useful to the Red Cross </li></ul><ul><li>Being a youn...
Challenges <ul><li>Technological limitations and frustrations </li></ul><ul><li>‘Island time’, the slow pace of work, the ...
 
The best parts  <ul><li>Getting to know enthusiastic library workers doing their best with few resources and little to no ...
 
Creating lasting change? Is the experience rewarding?  <ul><li>This is difficult to answer!  </li></ul><ul><li>Yes and No ...
To be an overseas library volunteer <ul><li>Expect the unexpected </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t expect anything to be like it is...
To be an overseas volunteer <ul><li>You have the ability to affect change </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptability  </li></ul><ul><l...
Considering applying?  <ul><li>Great for newgrads – Both Romany and I were straight out of library school </li></ul><ul><l...
Why do it? What will you get out of it? <ul><li>Challenge yourself and push yourself </li></ul><ul><li>Professional develo...
Why not do it? Why it can be hard <ul><li>There can be major frustrations  </li></ul><ul><li>The gap between the AYAD rhet...
Links <ul><li>AYAD: Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development  www.ayad.com.au   </li></ul><ul><li>VIDA: Volunteering f...
Conclusion  <ul><li>Volunteering as a librarian overseas in development is amazing, challenging, difficult, life-changing,...
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Taking your library career outside the square: from cosmpolitan Melbourne to the Tropical Islands of Samoa by Susanne Newton, AYAD volunteer, National University of Samoa

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"Taking your library career outside the square" was presented at RMIT Library, Melbourne, Australia on May 12th 2010 as part of an ALIA New Graduates event on Librarians Abraod. Susanne talks about her experience volunteering for a year as a librarian at the National University of Samoa through the AYAD program: www.ayad.com.au

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Taking your library career outside the square: from cosmpolitan Melbourne to the Tropical Islands of Samoa by Susanne Newton, AYAD volunteer, National University of Samoa

  1. 1. Taking your career outside the square: from cosmopolitan Melbourne to the tropical islands of Samoa Susanne Newton Australian Youth Ambassador
  2. 2. A taste of Samoa <ul><li>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYM72hUUkzU </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is AYAD? <ul><li>A government funded program sending 400 skilled volunteers a year to developing nations in Asia, the Pacific and Africa for short term programs of 3-12 months. </li></ul><ul><li>The aim is to make a positive contribution to development and strengthen mutual understanding by building the capacity of local people through skills transferring. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Samoa <ul><li>A group of islands in the South Pacific, halfway between Australia and Hawaii </li></ul><ul><li>Population of 200,000, mainly Polynesians </li></ul><ul><li>100,000 more Samoans in New Zealand, 40,000 in Australia </li></ul><ul><li>Tropical climate </li></ul><ul><li>First Pacific Island to gain independence </li></ul><ul><li>Homeplace of Robert Louis Stevenson </li></ul>
  5. 11. My role <ul><li>Library Management Officer at the National University of Samoa </li></ul><ul><li>12 month position </li></ul><ul><li>Sent to Samoa with five other AYADs – a permaculture officer (organic farming), a cricket development officer, a small business development officer, a graphic designer, and a lab technician </li></ul>
  6. 13. Libraries in Samoa <ul><li>One dated public library with two branches serves the population of 200,000 Samoans. </li></ul><ul><li>Most libraries still rely on a card catalogue and a print-based collection </li></ul><ul><li>Problem of collections derived largely from donations – old and irrelevant material </li></ul><ul><li>Major lack of funding and trained staff </li></ul>
  7. 14. Libraries in Samoa <ul><li>Approximately five ‘bookshops’ in Samoa, mainly selling stationary and religious texts </li></ul><ul><li>Books very expensive – 80 tala ($40AU) when the minimum wage is 2 tala per hour ($1AU) </li></ul><ul><li>Humidity! </li></ul><ul><li>Books seen as precious commodities and are not easily accessed </li></ul>
  8. 15. Nightmare!
  9. 18. My assignment aims: <ul><li>Market the new law collection </li></ul><ul><li>Liaise with the Australian Attorney General’s Department Library, who donated the law collection through the Pacific Law Library Twinning Program </li></ul><ul><li>Review Library policies and procedures </li></ul><ul><li>Develop Library management policies </li></ul>
  10. 19. The assignment aims: <ul><li>Educate library users in IT and using the collection </li></ul><ul><li>Undertake reference and research enquiries for academics and researchers </li></ul><ul><li>Train staff </li></ul>
  11. 20. Plus all the other stuff: <ul><li>Lecturing 40+ young Samoans </li></ul><ul><li>Being on the Library Association of Samoa </li></ul><ul><li>Running National Library Week </li></ul><ul><li>Dealing with masses of irrelevant material </li></ul><ul><li>Insect-ridden material – termites, giant African snails </li></ul><ul><li>The Samoan tsunami aftermath </li></ul>
  12. 21. Achievements : Library Week <ul><li>National Library Week through the Library Association of Samoa </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Short story competition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Literary high tea </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parade through town </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Costume competition for best dressed book character </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Movie nights </li></ul></ul>
  13. 28. Achievements: Lecturing <ul><li>Lectured on a course teaching 40 young Samoans to work in school libraries </li></ul><ul><li>Basic skills such as being professional, customer service, filing, cataloguing, recommending books </li></ul><ul><li>Hindered by lack of organisation and money </li></ul>
  14. 32. Achievements: Law Library Twinning Program <ul><li>Well run program matching an Australian Law Library with a Pacific Law Library </li></ul><ul><li>Australian Library provides books, support, training </li></ul><ul><li>First meet up of all Pacific Participants in Vanuatu in May 2009 </li></ul>
  15. 34. Achievements: Post-tsunami recovery <ul><li>Samoan tsunami hit on September 29, killing over 150, affecting everyone in Samoa in some way </li></ul><ul><li>Hit the beautiful south side of the island </li></ul><ul><li>Apia, the main town, is on the north side of the island and was not affected by the tsunami </li></ul>
  16. 39. Challenges <ul><li>The tsunami. Information management skills were useful to the Red Cross </li></ul><ul><li>Being a young skilled female in a hierarchical environment with different cultural mores </li></ul><ul><li>Dealing with workplace bullying and resistance to change </li></ul><ul><li>Humidity; resistance to weeding when relying on donations </li></ul>
  17. 40. Challenges <ul><li>Technological limitations and frustrations </li></ul><ul><li>‘Island time’, the slow pace of work, the fact that it is often easier to do things yourself then capacity build </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of formal training opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of money and resources </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of motivation </li></ul><ul><li>Outdated attitudes about libraries </li></ul>
  18. 42. The best parts <ul><li>Getting to know enthusiastic library workers doing their best with few resources and little to no training </li></ul><ul><li>Working with my all-Samoan staff at NUS </li></ul><ul><li>Being able to use my library skills to aid development </li></ul><ul><li>Seeing a different culture and changing my world view of what is/isn’t important </li></ul>
  19. 44. Creating lasting change? Is the experience rewarding? <ul><li>This is difficult to answer! </li></ul><ul><li>Yes and No </li></ul>
  20. 45. To be an overseas library volunteer <ul><li>Expect the unexpected </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t expect anything to be like it is at home </li></ul><ul><li>Build a support network around you – this is the number one way I got through the hard times last year </li></ul><ul><li>Know that there’s only so much you can do in a year </li></ul>
  21. 46. To be an overseas volunteer <ul><li>You have the ability to affect change </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptability </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>Negotiating with others </li></ul><ul><li>Library and technological skills </li></ul><ul><li>Being able to adapt to a new place and new culture </li></ul>
  22. 47. Considering applying? <ul><li>Great for newgrads – Both Romany and I were straight out of library school </li></ul><ul><li>Good for young people, as there are other people your age volunteering as AYADs and Peace Corps; could be harder as an older volunteer when other foreigners are often ex-pats with a good deal of money </li></ul>
  23. 48. Why do it? What will you get out of it? <ul><li>Challenge yourself and push yourself </li></ul><ul><li>Professional development </li></ul><ul><li>Facing all different challenges makes you discover you can do anything! </li></ul><ul><li>Life experience </li></ul><ul><li>Help others who need it </li></ul>
  24. 49. Why not do it? Why it can be hard <ul><li>There can be major frustrations </li></ul><ul><li>The gap between the AYAD rhetoric of ‘you can change the world’ and the realities of the difficulties of development </li></ul><ul><li>One year is short; you are temporary </li></ul><ul><li>You won’t always have access to technology </li></ul><ul><li>It’s a huge life change, and as I’m finding, coming back is as hard as going </li></ul><ul><li>Supply and demand / different cultural needs </li></ul>
  25. 50. Links <ul><li>AYAD: Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development www.ayad.com.au </li></ul><ul><li>VIDA: Volunteering for International Development from Australia www.vidavolunteers.com.au </li></ul><ul><li>AVI: Australian Volunteers International www.australianvolunteers.com </li></ul><ul><li>ABV: Australian Business Volunteers www.abv.org.au </li></ul>
  26. 51. Conclusion <ul><li>Volunteering as a librarian overseas in development is amazing, challenging, difficult, life-changing, and good for your professional development. </li></ul><ul><li>If you get the chance, take it. </li></ul><ul><li>Thankyou </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>

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