ALIA Futures


We built this section of the website to host a range of information about the ALIA Future of the Profession initiatives and projects from 2013, including the result of forums and submissions, and reports and information about the projects and activities that have evolved since then. We produced updates in May 2017, reviewing the themes, the activities arising as a result, and the lessons learned. 


In 2013, we set out to investigate the big questions about our future.

  • How will libraries remain relevant for users?
  • What changes will institutions and individuals in the sector experience?
  • Will ‘library and information professional’ continue to be a necessary and desirable occupation?

We received challenging, insightful, inspiring responses to our request for feedback at events held all around Australia. As a result, we have been able to identify themes and develop actions that will support positive outcomes. The findings from the project have been produced as seven reports:

Future of the Library and Information Science Profession Report | Action List | 2017 Report Update

Future of the LIS Profession: Professionals Report | 2017 Report Update

Future of the LIS Profession: Collecting Institutions Report | Summary | 2017 Report Update

Future of the LIS Profession: Public Libraries Report | Summary | 2017 Report Update

Future of the LIS Profession: Special Libraries Report | Summary | 2017 Report Update

Future of the LIS Profession: School Libraries Report | Summary | 2017 Report Update

Future of the LIS Profession: Tertiary Libraries Report | Summary: University | Summary: VET | 2017 Report Update

To download all the 2013 reports as a single PDF, click here. To see the initial discussion paper and responses, click here


One of the actions flowing from the ALIA Future of the Profession project was an action list. One of those actions was to:

‘… and monitor the LIS workforce to identify the ebb and flow of job openings to new entrants. This will help identify when we have sufficient people in the workforce and when we need to run active recruitment campaigns’.

ALIA has completed this task and the report was launched on 18 September 2014 at the ALIA National 2014 Conference held in Melbourne. The trend report is updated annually.


This is an interesting US report on the drivers for change and the resulting workskills that will be in high demand across all sectors by 2020. There are clear implications for the LIS profession:

Future Work Skills 2020:


Launching during Library and Information Week in 2014, ALIA Training is pleased to bring you the LinkedIn Professional Discussion Series. 

This will be an opportunity for ALIA members to come together in a professional online space to discuss topics and exchange ideas around a range of issues related to the library and information profession.

Each month for six months, we will invite a guest host to initiate a discussion around a topic. They may have presented a paper on this issue, blogged about it or be a recognised mover and shaker in the area. They will encourage you to respond to their thoughts and they will help to guide and moderate the conversations that follow. We invite you to contribute or simply follow the thoughts of your peers.


Where: A discussion group hosted on the LinkedIn professional networking platform

When: Each month from May through to October 2014

Who: ALIA members only 

What: Hosted discussions for 2 weeks and then left open ended for ongoing discussion

How: ALIA members on LinkedIn should join the Future of the Profession: Professional Discussions group



'Libraries WILL become irrelevant if we lose sight of our unique value proposition  — preservation, openness, freedom and privacy'

Hosted by Hugh Rundle AALIA CP

More information about Hugh can be found here.


'But I didn’t sign up to be a social worker! Libraries and homelessness: responsibilities and values'

Hosted by Heather Davis AALIA

Heather has been working in public libraries for six years with responsibilities including staff leadership and change management, collection development, service planning and volunteer management. She is a firm believer in continuous learning, which is what interested her about the library profession to begin with. Heather completed a two year stint on the ALIA Sydney Committee where she organised and supported professional development activities and professional discussions. She is currently on the organising committee for NLS7 to be held in 2015.

After being called upon to handle some particularly challenging customer service situations at Waverley Library, Heather started performing some research to see how other libraries looked after the needs of their customers who are homeless and managed customer and staff expectations. There were not many conversations in Australia, but she did notice that it was a hot topic in the US. This led Heather to apply for the CPLA Kath Knowles Young Leaders Award which provided the funding and opportunity to travel to Chicago for the American Library Association Annual Conference and meet with other library professionals who were addressing the issue in their work.

Since then, Heather has been working with The Footpath Library, a volunteer organisation, as well as fellow library staff including Kieran O’Donaghue from Newcastle Library, to develop a toolkit for other library workers to provide quality services to people who are homeless.  


The toolkit  Libraries are for Everyone : providing quality services to people who are homeless can be accessed here.



'Jumping off the edge: learning for library staff'

Does the library profession REALLY value learning for themselves?

Hosted by Jane Cowell AALIA CP

Jane will explore the issue of ongoing professional development and training of library staff.

Jane Cowell has been with State Library of Queensland since 2010 and is the Director of Regional Access and Public Libraries. One of her current projects is a Training Needs Analysis for Public Library Staff.  Other key projects during this appointment are Next Horizon Vision 2017 for Queensland Public Libraries, State Library’s Literacy Framework Libraries for Literacy every day, every way, and The Library Dividend: the socioeconomic value of Queensland Public Libraries. Prior to this role Jane was a Senior Consultant with the AEC Group, working with local governments and State Libraries across Australia on strategic planning, library service models and community consultation in the areas of library and community services. Jane has over 20 years public library management experience, including serving as President of Queensland Public Library Association.

Jane is passionate about public libraries as creative community spaces and their role in connecting communities with technology trends and sees many opportunities for libraries presented by the rapidly changing digital, social and economic environment. 



Undergraduate LIS degrees?

Hosted by Anne Newton AALIA (CP)

There is overwhelming consensus that the future of the profession will be reliant upon the ability to adapt and collaborate. Not all collaborations will be within the sector – cultural agencies, publishers, tech companies, educational institutions are all obvious candidates in the current environment, and there new opportunities are appearing all the time. Would a move to post-graduate qualifications only ensure that new staff entering the sector bring across other, valuable skills and knowledge? Or would we be alienating the younger cohort who are already rare enough?

Anne Newton gained her library qualifications in 2001 and immediately began working in a academic library in regional Queensland, then joined the Rural Clinical Division in a regional hospital. After a two-year switch to a special (government) library she spent a few years working casually at a variety of libraries including Macquarie University and the City of Ipswich. She then moved on to a Liaison position with the University of Queensland, and then more casual work with both the ACT Libraries, and the University of Canberra.  In that time she has experienced everything from running a single-person library to being part of one of the largest academic library services in the country. She has struggled with medical terminology, the incredible pervasiveness of acronyms in government communication, and explaining bibliometrics to sceptical academics.

Since joining ALIA this year Anne is getting an entirely new perspective on the profession – a much broader understanding of the various sectors, and a view from the ‘other side’ concerning accreditation and education standards for LIS professionals. It’s that new perspective that has her wondering about where education is going for library professionals, and what that means for the future. 



And to wrap with a bit of fun, and reflection on careers in library and information management:

'Mid-librarian crisis' 

Before you swap your career for a red Ferrari and an illicit lover, come and chat with Michael and Holger and rediscover your librarian spirit animal*

*spirit animal may or may not be included

Hosted by Michael Carney AALIA CP and Holger Aman AALIA CP

Holger Aman works as a Reference Librarian at the Law Courts Library of NSW, and demonstrates his belief in the importance of librarianship through active membership of various ALIA groups, and is busily planning NLS7 as part of the 2015 committee. He loves reading (surprise!), rock climbing, fencing, soccer, motorcycling and a good three-piece suit!

Michael Carney is an Original Materials Librarian at State Library NSW. He has a background in music and media and when not getting his hands dusty with manuscripts, he is often running them over a piano.

Michael has presented two papers at ALIA conferences with Holger – ‘Opposite sides of the same street’ at NLS6 in Brisbane 2012 and ‘Judges, Governors and Changing Libraries’ at the National Library and Technicians Conference in Canberra last year. In February this year his article, ‘Sources of substance’ was featured in ALIA Incite. Currently he is busy preparing a new paper with Holger named ‘Librarians don’t read on the job’ which will be presented at September’s ALIA National Conference. 

If you aren’t on Linkedin yet or if you haven’t quite wrapped your head around it, we’ve found some links that could help you make the most of it.

  • Why should I be on Linkedin? It is worth taking the time to read a blog from last year about Linkedin for librarians. Not only does this blog contain great ideas on how you can make the most of the website, but it also includes a helpful slideshare presentation with 20 easy tip & tricks. 8 reasons why Linkedin is definitely for librarians from Libreaction: a blog about libraries and librarianship today.
  • How do I get started? Linkedin will guide you through building your profile after you have signed up.
  • What do I do now? Here is a Linkedin etiquette infographic from the Undercover Recruiter. Mashable also has a useful page on Linkedin etiquette. Don’t forget to join some groups including the ALIA Future of Profession: Professional Discussions group.
  • What shouldn’t I do? If you function better with a ‘what not to do’ guide, here is a helpful article from Forbes called ‘8 mistakes you should never make on Linkedin’.