We visited a mobile library, and I borrowed one of my favourite books: When the wind blows by Raymond Briggs. (read this, and watch the Brit tv series Threads – the two perfect artefacts of 80s nuclear fear)
We met Bowie and Jobriath and Ann Magnuson.
Your collection is a springboard to creativity.
We designed a new exciting event and programming for our libraries.
We sung Oma rapeti.
And we met librarians from Australia and New Zealand doing awesome stuff. Lesley Ahwang Acres, Field Officer with Indigenous Library Services at the State Library of Queensland (here she is at her session).
OPEN 2017 – the 2017 LIANZA Conference – officially kicked off on Sunday afternoon with a mihi whakatau and kai. Niamh Shaw the MC brought us together after that, and launched an afternoon of dangerous myths, future sounds, and an awards ceremony.
Kelsey Johnstone of Christchurch City Libraries, LIANZA councillor for the Aoraki region, introduced Laurinda Thomas.
Laurinda’s well known in library land for her TedX talk The Dangerous Myth about Libraries.
In this keynote, she looked into the dangerous myth about librarians. This time it’s personal – it’s the things we tell ourselves:
Will we flourish or will we let the weight of that history hold us back from what we could be?
The most important resource in libraries? It’s librarians. And it is librarians that will determine what the future of the profession looks like.
This keynote was packed with ideas and conversations, and emphasised the importance of intentionality – of knowing what we do, why we do it, and for whom. I’ve picked out some of her key points, and the slides that illustrated her ideas.
Laurinda focused on the here and now, not the future – the real work and real positive outcomes for the people we serve. We were social entrepreneurs before the phrase existed.
Libraries are powerful. They provide internet access and modern life relies on it completely. Citizens can’t have human rights without access. We are providing people with a human right that opens up employment, communication with family, and democracy. The systematic cuts that UK libraries are enduring in the wake of austerity measures are not a politically neutral act. Cutting library budgets is reducing the education of citizens, and impacting on their rights.
We have power as librarians, and that can make us feel conflicted. There is a hierachy amongst the people we serve, and the people we report to. These groups aren’t the same, one includes society’s most vulnerable, and the other includes some of the most privileged.
When we use the word “relevant”, we imply the opposite.
When we talk about “saving our libraries”, we signal powerlessness, and the need to be saved.
When Laurinda did her TEDx talk, a woman spoke to her and said the talk made her angry. It was a retired librarian, and she’d been part of the same conversations 30 years ago.
How do we have better conversations? Talk to the people who haven’t been into a library for ten years. Not everyone can afford books, or has a quiet place to go. Not everyone has internet access, or even a home.
Some people don’t give a damn about the social good of the library.
So find out what matters to them, and back up your stories with facts.
Dare to ask about the things we find confronting:
Are you represented?
If the library wasn’t here, what would you do?
Do you know someone who would never come to the library?
The elephants in the room:
Misusing numbers – conflating statistics with opinions about value, but really we are more interested in outcomes than numbers.
Relying on our “obvious” value (it’s not obvious)
Being lazy about biculturalism. (we haven’t moved enough in this area, not by a long stretch)
Looking for a single thing to save us (and I bet that thing will also make us “relevant”)
Libraries are not ideologically neutral. We support access to information, lifetime learning, and the social good. Political awareness is part of the job.
Get up there. Do public speaking. Speak from the heart. To be visible is to be courageous.
I am excited about going to the LIANZA conference on Tuesday. I will be focusing on three strands that are important to me as a selector for Christchurch City Libraries. Broadly speaking they are:
eBook usage and licensing agreements
Being open to indigenous knowledge.
The way we present the library content we select with great care is all important. I would like to explore new ideas of presentation and customer interaction at the conference.
I will be wearing my e-hat when going to the session on eBook usage and licensing agreements. Will this help me in the future to better explain to self-publishing authors why I can’t buy their eBook from them direct?
As the selector for New Zealand nonfiction I also make the decision which books will be shelved in our Ngā Pounamu collections. I hope to get a lot out of the paper that gives an overview of how other non-Māori librarians are making sense of Māori knowledge.
Visit the LIANZA Conference page for more information.
Robyn Lees, library assistant at New Brighton, shares the highlights of her first ever visit to a National Digital Forum, held in Wellington in November last year.
The Digital Forum has many facets and the areas of interest for me at the forum were learning and digital literacy, and how we can encompass it in to our programmes and general abilities of staff. As a part of going to the forum I was able to meet learned colleagues for whom a surprise collaboration with a very real result was achieved (more on that later).
Firstly I attended a pre-conference workshop that was about a very cheap system of computing called Raspberry Pi- to explain, Raspberry Pi is basically a miniature operating system that you can hold in your hand. It is like a motherboard of a computer about 5cms square. It has an operating system and can be plugged in to any existing system or operate independently as needed.
The trick is that you can learn basic programming and coding with it and it’s cheap. These would be great little tools for our learning spaces as the users can make lights work, make alarms or programme it to make actions. After we were shown some demos we got hands-on with Raspberry Pi and we were allowed to fiddle with them and put some basic programming in to them to make lights flash and set off alarms and other trickery. You can plug anything in to them like keyboards and USBs and screens so they are an appealing way of introducing some fun and coding to people with limited resources.
I was interested to learn about how organisations other than Libraries are engaging with new technology and using it to engage with their customers. Auckland Museum did a presentation about a Twitter campaign they ran where they used objects from their collection to convey clues accompanied by questions for users to answer. They ran a new quiz each week to keep users interested and tied it in with displays and events they were holding. It was hugely successful. This has inspired the team on to new ideas and new social media plans.
Here is a clip from Auckland’s outreach librarian – Baruk Fedderborn. In general he is talking about Digital Literacy or as he terms it Post Literacy and engaging with Makerspaces in terms of Māori and Pasifika communities and how we can use our technologies to cross the digital divide and provide useful collaboration with these communities by way of language. It is best to let him explain.
In line with my interest in ways of learning I saw a keynote address that began with Disrupt, Connect and Co-Construct. These are the go words of Clare Amos who is deputy principal at Hobsonville Point School where the style of learning is much different than how we were educated. The focus is on how to work with digital natives and support their different ways of learning. Recently I had a customer whose 2 year old son was fidgeting while I was signing him up. I gave him a toy plane to play with and he was not interested in it. So what does this mean for us?
The end bits
Some of my key notes are that there was a lot of conversation around how we get all our colleagues to invest and engage in the new technologies as we dive deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. You don’t need to be 5 to understand it all –but it helps as our “digital natives” way of life changes how we offer our services. This leads on to us running programmes and designing our physical and digital spaces to fit what is happening now for customer needs and looking to build quickly in response to the fast paced changes in our society. Mostly it’s about being relevant and timely with our actions and training for Digital Literacy.
Which leads on to our most important function of customer service and making sure we are actually responding to what is needed and a small example of that is helping with CVs – it may not be glamorous but it’s important to the customers and we can use those sessions to promote all our fabulous services!
Baruk Fedderborn from the earlier conversation about Makerspaces and I found out that a lot of the forum attendees were keen to be able to communicate professionally with each other across the organisations there. These were Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. We discussed planned and collaborated to create a platform for colleagues to do this and settled on Facebook as a suitable platform after discovering that it is frequently used by professional groups. We started a closed group called GLAMS 101 and have since grown the membership to over 120 colleagues and counting. They are located throughout NZ and range from management to customer facing colleagues. It has proved to be a very worthwhile and unexpected learning opportunity from the NDF 2015 Forum event.
The two biggest stand outs for me for the future from the forum were:
That people in these organisations want to share information and collaborate. Sharing of project information, expertise, resources etc are very possible for the future using social media platforms in addition to traditional methods.
Everybody at the Forum was really excited about what will be coming in the future technology wise and how we can start to shift our mindsets to fully engage with such technologies like 3D printing and Robots which we have started to do, and think about the new ones coming like Virtual Reality and Nano Technology among many others.
Attending the Forum was a valuable experience and I recommend it to others for helping colleagues to learn and grow.
Because really who wants to tackle some heavy reading or weighty issues first up in 2016?
I was fortunate enough to attend Shout! Karanga Rā, the annual LIANZA conference in Wellington in November. Unlike the physical exhaustion I experienced in completing the my first half marathon in Queenstown that same month, post-conference it was my brain that was overwhelmed after four days of ideas, conversations, laughter, themes and information.
Speakers from New Zealand and around the world inspired, challenged and made us laugh. In the interests of keeping things light to kick off the year, here are some memorable quotes and comments that captured my attention:
“The library listens, interprets and makes awesome things happen” + The public library should be fun!” – the effervescent Justin Hoenke Director of Benson Memorial Library in Pennsylvania.
“Australia is full of bogans” – Ghil’ad Zuckermann, chair of Linguistics and Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide, currently working on the revival of the Barngarla Aboriginal language. Fascinating style of delivery for his keynote opening with a Hebrew song sung to the tune of Pokarekare Ana and great application of the ‘Driver Reviver’ message to saving languages.
“Everyone f**king hates councils, but everyone loves libraries” – Nigel Latta wondering why his council doesn’t promote their libraries as their awesome service to improve credibility with their ratepayers + “work life balance is bollocks” + “practice a growth mindset” – changing your worldview from fixed to one open to change.