For me, NLS is an important date on the ALIA calendar as it provides an opportunity for new librarians to have their first formal conference experience…either as an attendee, presenter or even as part of the organising committee. I presented my first (and to date, only) conference paper at NLS in 2008. While I was probably on the outer limit of being considered a new graduate, convening the 2011 symposium back to back with the ALIA National Library & Information Technicians Conference and to develop a conference that represented my vision for NLS was too good an opportunity to pass up.
My observation of previous symposia, and conferences in general, is that they are far too passive and as such we tried to develop a program that balanced presentations with practical workshops to ensure delegates returned to their libraries with a wider range of skills than they came with. To me a new librarian is someone who has had 3-5 years of professional experience at most, as opposed to the definition at the time which was up to 10 years! Another intention of incorporating workshops therefore was to encourage and challenge new librarians to gain new skills that might help them to move towards taking the next steps in their careers, become our new generation of leaders and managers and making their next conference one of the mainstream ALIA conferences.
I believe that the alignment of NLS6 with Information Online will continue to encourage new librarians to develop in their careers. Online has traditionally been well attended by new librarians and the focus on innovative technologies is in line with how libraries are and should be developing. Online also provides the opportunity for new librarians to develop connections with existing leaders and managers in the profession, a definite advantage of this model over the traditional symposium.
I look forward to seeing NLS6 take shape and providing the opportunity for new librarians to experience two of the most innovative events that ALIA presents.