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To Sharr or not to Sharr #blogjune

The FA Sharr Award is presented to a new graduate library or library technician, who exhibits the potential to make a significant contribution to the library profession in Western Australia. It is named after Francis Aubie (Ali) Sharr, State Librarian in WA from 1953 to 1976, in recognition of his contribution to libraries and librarianship.

Not having grown up or studied in WA I will admit I was not that familiar with the Award. It was not until I had received the award and spoke with others in the profession that I fully understood the regard with which the Award is held.

Therefore it was disappointing that, for the third year in a row, there was no Award. The main factor contributing to this is a lack of suitable applicants. I do not believe this means the quality of graduates has declined or that they aren't out there making a difference in their workplace. I think the problem is more likely that new graduates are unlikely or unwilling to put their hands up for such an award.

I am sure it is not a trait unique to those working in libraries, but most of us would be unlikely to step forward and say “yes, I'm awesome and I have what it takes to make a difference through my career”. Yet most of us, given the right opportunities and encouragement, have the potential to do just that. 

It is highly unlikely I would have had the confidence to nominate myself for the Award back in 2009. However, I am glad that my Manager saw my potential and encouraged me to apply. I have gained much from receiving the Award, including but not limited to my involvement in the ALIAWest Committee, including a term as Convenor. 

The call for nominations for the 2015 Award will not open until the end of the year. However, I would encourage you all to think about any recent graduates you might work with or supervise, who are making a difference in your workplace. Full details are available at https://www.alia.org.au/about-alia/awards-and-grants/355/f-sharr-award

Catherine New


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