What do a German librarian and a Wellington bookseller have in common?

Claudia Lux - Photo courtesy of Ross Becker
Claudia Lux - Photo courtesy of Ross Becker

At their sessions during the LIANZA conference they both stressed the importance of sharing.

In her keynote on Tuesday Claudia Lux encouraged us all to advocate for our libraries and ensure they are visible, especially to those not connected to education or cultural sectors.  Share information about what we do as librarians – do all your friends and family know (and more importantly ‘get’) what librarians do?  Most importantly don’t complain – no one likes a whinger.  Package your message in a different way and create advocates from customers who use your library.

In a similar vein, later in the day John McIntyre co-owner of The Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie, Wellington stated to his audience that it was all about sharing – whether you’re a librarian or a bookseller.  Share the passion – share the enjoyment of reading and books.  John stressed the importance of getting out from behind the desk and into the shelves – initiating conversations with our customers.  But for god’s sake don’t lead in with the universally loathed “can I help you?”!  Alternative suggestions were “Are you happy browsing?” or “Are you finding what you’re looking for?”.  Not earth shattering news to librarians but a timely reminder to engage with our customers without the barrier of a desk rather than expecting them to come to us.

John’s passion and enthusiasm for books and the ways they can impact and play a role in changing lives for the better was blatant. From his sharing of a personal letter from a very grateful teen mum to encouraging us to think about our own customers situations and the positive impact we could have on them, has got this librarian thinking about creative ways to engage with challenging youth in my own library.

Common to both Claudia and John was their message to make ourselves valuable to our communities – now there’s a challenge!

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