March 16, 2018

Kate Byrne, Alyson Dalby, & Clare McKenzie | Movers & Shakers 2016 – Community Builders

Kate Byrne, Alyson Dalby, Clare McKenzie

Kate Byrne


Manager of Research Reporting, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia


MA, Information and Knowledge Management, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, 2013


@katecbyrne (Twitter);

Alyson Dalby


Team Manager in Data Readiness for Regulatory Affairs, Leo Pharma, Copenhagen, Denmark


Graduate Diploma of Library and Information Management, Curtin University, Australia, 2003; MBA, University of New England, Australia, 2010


@alysondalby (Twitter);

Clare McKenzie


Manager of Scholarly Content. University of Wollongong Library, New South Wales, Australia


Master of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Australia, 2014


@ccmcknz (Twitter);


International Librarians Network (ILN)

Photos by Jane Eliasson

Librarians of the World

Three Australian librarians are behind the successful International Librarians Network (ILN), an all-volunteer peer-mentoring program that is global, digital, and free. It was started in 2013 at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Library in Sydney, Australia, where Kate Byrne, Alyson Dalby, and Clare McKenzie were colleagues. (Only Byrne is currently still at the UNSW Library, as manager of research reporting; McKenzie has since become manager of scholarly content at the University of Wollongong Library, Australia, and Dalby, ILN director of business operations, is team manager in data readiness for regulatory affairs at LEO Pharma, in Copenhagen, Denmark.)

The trio were inspired to create ILN after Byrne returned from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Congress in Helsinki, Finland, in 2012. “Kate was struck by the amazing opportunities at the event to meet colleagues from around the world—and by the fact that this is out of reach for the vast majority of the profession,” recalls McKenzie, ILN’s director of communications.

In 2013, ILN launched with a pilot program of 92 participants. ILN matches mentees with mentors outside their country based on shared professional interests. During the four-month mentorship, the partners communicate digitally (email, Twitter, Facebook, and Skype are popular). Every two weeks, ILN provides discussion topics as conversation prompts.

In just three years, ILN has become the largest librarian mentoring program in the world, with more than 3,500 participants in 120 countries, most of whom wouldn’t be able to afford to travel overseas to make these kinds of professional connections in person. The growth in the number of ILN participants has been “extraordinary,” as has been the feedback, says Byrne, ILN’s director of technical operations.

“We even have a small group of six ‘golden participants’ who have enrolled in every single round since we started,” McKenzie says. “We frequently receive feedback from our participants about the impact of their partnerships on their professional lives. These individual stories…remind us why we do this.”

That’s important, says McKenzie, because “running a global program in your spare time…can mean long days and weekends working on the ILN after we finish our day jobs, not to mention endless emails and Skype calls to keep everything on track.… [T]he stories and messages we receive from the amazing ILN community…inspire us to keep working and growing this global network. One of our favorite comments was from a Mexican participant, Victoria Hernández, who sent us an email saying, ‘Thanks for making me feel like a librarian of the world!’ ”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.