This year’s LIANZA Conference was my first, held in my hometown – the sometimes sunny Dunedin. But aside from enjoying stunning weather (while it lasted, anyway) and consuming lots of delicious food, what else have 600 librarians been doing?
Talking about libraries, of course! The theme of the 2010 conference was ‘At the Edge’, with most of the speakers discussing – in one way or another – how we can leap into the unknown with confidence rather than fear. As Christine Mackenzie pointed out in the opening keynote ‘Public Libraries after the iPad’, this means having the right equipment, so when we take such a leap we know we will land safely.
As part of the generation who will inherit libraries in the future, I am really excited about where we can go with the huge amount of knowledge and skills we possess now. I don’t believe libraries will ever become redundant, because we are brave enough to continue to appraise ourselves with honesty and ask, “What do we need to do to stay relevant? How can we best take advantage of the technology available to us? What can we improve on?”
Libraries 100 years ago are not the same as libraries today, and the libraries of today will not be the same as the libraries of tomorrow. We are constantly evolving, finding new ways to balance tradition and innovation, to turn threats into opportunities. The future is here now, and it’s not just in the form of an ebook. Today the world has access to ‘Book Dispensers’ (vending machines filled with library books, found in all those places where having something to read might come in handy, such as airports and hospitals), Tank U’s (electronic pods which people can plug their phones into to download apps, music, videos) and staff-less libraries where RFID technology, combined with a library card and pin number, grants you entry 24/7…I don’t know about you, but I am in awe of the people making this stuff up and changing the way we think about libraries!
Thought-provoking words I heard at the LIANZA Conference:
“In the 21st century the library is everywhere; librarians can work anywhere; and librarians go where they are needed” – David Schumaker, At the Edge of Opportunity: Embedded Librarianship Today and Tomorrow (Keynote 9)
“Our policies are usually created for the 3% who behave badly” – Fiona Emberton, Future Proofing Your Service: Achieving Cultural Change
“We need to become literate in the ways of our users in order to help them become literate in ways of the library” – Rebecca Cox, Applying Web Usability Research to Support Better Access to Library Collections
“Whether information about Maori history, tradition and culture is considered legitimate depends on where libraries shelve that information – in the nonfiction area or beside The Lord of the Rings? Bestowing a credibility that some do not have is the dangerous part…libraries need to be very careful” – Tahu Potiki, Why do Maori Visit the Library? The Challenge of Relevance in the 21st Century (Keynote 5)
The most valuable messages I took away:
- Promote! Promote! Promote! There is so much we do well, and our communities need to know about it.
- Trust yourselves, trust your customers. What do we have if we don’t have trust?
- Keep everything in perspective. Don’t turn the small things into your biggest obstacles.
- Think laterally. There is always a way if you are willing to get creative.
Popular Centre, Central Library