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Librarians hit the books to reskill during COVID-19 pandemic 

Librarians hit the books to reskill during COVID-19 pandemic 

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has experienced an unprecedented demand for a Readers’ Advisory course customised by TAFE NSW.

Librarians across Australia and in other countries, such as Singapore and New Zealand, have turned to ALIA during COVID-19 to refresh their skills in the area of book and reading recommendations, as facilities reopen. ALIA recorded a 280% increase in members accessing the course during the pandemic.

Librarians continue to be in demand, with employment growing over the past 5 years, and a forecast 16,400 jobs in the profession by 2023[1]. The recent demand throughout the month of May 2020 reveals a trend in industry professionals using shutdowns to reskill and focus on professional development.

ALIA is the peak professional organisation for the Australian library and information services sector. Strategic Programs & Engagement Manager, Kirrin Sampson, said that the customised TAFE NSW training offered stability during a time of uncertainty throughout the industry.

“During the recent shutdowns occurring across Australia, public libraries closed most of their frontline services.

“While many staff were redeployed to ‘back of house’ tasks, for others it has been an opportune time to give their professional development activities a boost. ALIA’s training partnership with TAFE NSW meant that library staff were able to conveniently take up learning opportunities no matter where they were,” Ms Sampson said.

Readers’ advisory is a core skill for those working in public and school libraries and equips staff with skills to assist readers in finding the right book for the right time or right mood, provide guidance in trying new authors, themes, and genres, and provide programs and services to promote reading, literacy and library use. 

TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Library and Information Studies, Julie Barkman, said the course was an excellent way into the industry for anyone considering a career in library services.

“TAFE NSW worked closely with ALIA to develop customised training to support its members. The readers’ advisory course is delivered via an online portal, with the industry-recognised study appealing to those looking to enter the profession or enhance their skills,” Julie said.

“With many ALIA members working in public or school libraries, the flexibility of online study means that they can work on the content and activities when, where and how it suits them.”

TAFE Enterprise customises flexible training options for businesses. For more information visit or phone 1300 045 737.

Media contact: Alice Dalley, TAFE NSW Media and Communications Business Partner,, 0402 528 210.