Every year, some 800 people graduate from an Australian university or TAFE, with a professional qualification in library and information science. Often it is a second career choice, and this contributes to the diversity of age and experience within the sector. Graduates with a degree or Masters qualification are eligible to become an ALIA Associate member, and those with a VET certificate or diploma, an ALIA Library Technician member.
In 2013, ALIA 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? Challenging, insightful, inspiring responses to our request for feedback at events held all around Australia was received. As a result, ALIA has been able to identify themes and develop actions that will support positive outcomes. The findings from the project have been produced as seven reports.
In this project, ALIA set out to investigate the big questions. Heading towards 2025: 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?
All of the ALIA members want to know what the future holds for library and information services. Of course, it is impossible to predict in exact terms, but using global trends, early indicators and futurist thinking to develop themes can guide the discussion about where it might be headed. For the purpose of this discussion paper, ALIA has looked at the broad role of library and information services, and specific circumstances relating to school, public, academic and special libraries, and collecting institutions.
The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) report highlights areas of good practice and provides a series of recommendations for enhancements to course content for the future. It also examines a number of critical issues that are likely to impact on library technician courses due to developments in the structure and funding of education in Australia, as well as changes within the Library Information Studies sector as a whole.
This report gives educators, employers and students greater clarity about the education and employment landscape in Australia in 2014. In 2014, there were 26 institutions delivering 39 ALIA accredited courses around Australia. There were approximately 4,800 students studying for an LIS qualification every year, 25% through higher education, 75% through VET. LIS workers were significantly older, with the median age between six and 10 years higher, compared with all occupations. In the last five years, there has been a 22.5% drop in the number of Librarian positions in the workforce.
This report concludes that baby boomer retirees from the LIS sector are creating the job opportunities for graduates and other entrants to the LIS job market. Educators are in a challenging period, but this isn't restricted to the LIS sector. Data shows that more employers are recruiting candidates without LIS qualification to provide frontline services. ALIA's aim is the encourage non-LIS professionals employed in the sector to study for LIS qualifications or at least gain a better understanding of the library environment by joining ALIA’s proficiency recognition program.