By Emily Wilson and Jade Koekoe

The New Librarians’ Symposium is a time to show that librarians know how to step out of the box – by learning, trying new things and hearing from professionals in the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) industry. We want students, new graduates and seasoned professionals who can tell NLS9 attendees about the skills, challenges and deviations it takes to achieve groundbreaking awesomeness.

If you have a big idea, or a story to tell – don’t be shy. If you have never presented at a conference – don’t be deterred. There are no strict styles or patterns to employ for a successful session submission (so long as you follow the submission guidelines). This blog offers some pro tips and suggestions for turning that big idea into a successful NLS9 session submission

Hone and refine your ideas

Libraries are exciting! New librarians are often determined, aspiring and big thinkers. But lofty ideas need to be honed into a marketable session submission. Talk your ideas over with friends and colleagues, get feedback. See which parts excite others as much as you. Refine and begin to turn these ideas into a draft. Ensure your ideas fit the conference themes: Collaborate – Deviate – Innovate. To assist we’ve broken down these themes here.


Networking and Connections. Meaningful connections to make things happen. Keywords: Cooperate, Join-forces, Synergies, Knowledge-sharing.


Disrupting the norm. Reflecting on what worked. Keywords: Outlier, Tenacity, Unconventionality, Breaking with tradition, Taking risks, Shake-up.


Trends and Technology. Advocacy and Storytelling. Keywords: Changing/challenging processes, Creativity, Originality, Uniqueness.

Prepare a Submission for the Session Type that Best Conveys your Ideas

The New Librarians’ Symposium has sessions to cater for different presentation styles. Take a look at these, work out which is best for you and pitch accordingly. Choose from: a Presentation, Workshop, Panel, Lightening Talk, or Debate. Refer to the Session Submission Guidelines for details of each.

Make it Coherent. Make it Succinct. Make it Punchy.

If the NLS9 Committee members responsible for selecting presenters and creating the program receive 100 submissions, assuming a very strict 5-minute reading time per submission, it’s still a full workday of reading. Each potential presenter deserves a thorough read and understanding of their pitch before rating, which is hard to achieve if the submissions are too wordy. A good rule of thumb is two to three paragraphs clearly expressing your idea. Cut superfluous words, be entertaining, master the details. This is particularly important for the title of your submission. If you are selected to present, the session title will go into the program as a teaser for attendees, so make it punchy.

The Benefits of Blinding

So that the NLS9 Committee members involved in selecting presenters do not need to struggle with evaluating submissions on a personal level (peers and colleagues), the initial assessment of submissions will be blind (your name and place of work will be removed). It is the clarity of ideas, originality, diversity of experience and impact on the wider library community that are being evaluated, not the person or their institution. To assist, please avoid mentioning your name or workplace in the description of your session. There will be other areas on the submission form for this.

Revise (proofread!)

This… librarians are sticklers for detail. Don’t muddy your message with a swag of typos and shoddy sentences. Get a friend or colleague to proofread for you.


Still have questions? Want to pick up some more pro tips? Need some motivation and to gather your courage? The NLS9 Committee are working with the ALIA State Managers, the ALIA Students & New Graduates Group, and other state-based ALIA Groups to hold some forums around the country on how to prepare a session submission, present at a conference, and develop your skills. These will be advertised through the NLS Social Media, on the Website and through the ALIA eLists and will be scheduled in July.  Come along and transform your nervous energy into enthusiasm, and your enthusiasm into a NLS9 session submission!

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