Three wicked problems and one set of strategic directions

One of the benefits of attending a LIANZA Conference is the opportunity, as the cliché says, to broaden your horizons. True to its name, OPEN 2017 did this in spades for me, with a variety of practical workshops and big idea keynotes.

A session that particularly reminded me of the wider importance of our profession was the talk by National Librarian Bill Macnaught. Bill highlighted the National Library’s Strategic Directions to 2030, a document that first saw the light at the end of 2016, but which I had shamefully not been aware of (bad librarian!).

Turning knowledge into value - Strategic directions to 2030
Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa – National Library of New Zealand, Attribution 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY 3.0 NZ)

Yet the three themes (aka in Bill’s words the “wicked problems”) of the Strategic Directions  — Taonga, Knowledge, and Reading — are crucial to the future not just of the National Library but of our country as a whole. You can read more about them on the National Library’s website, but here is my summary for those who like me tend to fall into the tl;dr category.

Issues

Taonga

  • Are we collecting the right things that we want to share for posterity? Are we doing so collectively across the country?
  • Are we looking after these taonga in a fit manner? How do we mitigate the risks to these treasures? (A very pertinent question, given that the very night before Bill spoke there had been a fire at the National Library: the very building that houses our important documents of Nationhood)
  • How do we ensure that the resources that are being preserved digitally will be easily accessible to New Zealanders in a hundred years’ time?

Knowledge

  • How do we make it much easier to share knowledge across New Zealand? How do we overcome the legacy of thinking of our own institutions first?

Reading

  • How do we create a nation of readers? According to the Tertiary Education Commission, almost half the adult population struggles with the written word. Functional literacy is not as good as it needs to be to ensure a prosperous and healthy Aotearoa.
Book "whare" in children's area
Book “whare” in children’s area, Christchurch City Libraries. Flickr 2016-01-20-IMG-1205

Focus areas

The Strategic Directions highlight the following areas as key goals:

  • New Zealand’s collections of documentary heritage and taonga will be well-managed and consistently cared for, regardless of format, and readily available.
  • All collecting organisations will have access to expertise to use new technologies and tools, so that digital preservation will be integrated into their collecting policies.
  • New Zealand institutions will act as one knowledge network, with seamless access points.
  • New Zealanders will be engaged with these resources and inspired to create new knowledge, especially resources in te reo Māori.
  • Collections will reflect the diversity of people in New Zealand and the Pacific, and the importance of Māori as tangata whenua.
  • A national campaign of reading for pleasure will improve New Zealanders’ functional literacy levels.
  • New Zealanders will have the digital literacy skills to access and use knowledge.
  • Te reo Māori will be revitalised and used throughout Aotearoa.

Key success factors

Bill identified these key success factors:

  • Collective impact approach and mutually reinforcing activities (e.g. through enabling and demonstration projects that we can all focus on).
  • Acknowledgement that we have common agenda.
  • Shared measurement – we need to be clear about what success look like for all parties.
  • Backbone support from the National Library.
  • And that usual supect: continuous communication.

Do you agree with the themes, issues and focus areas of the National Library’s Strategic Directions to 2030? Or perhaps you have a brilliant idea to help us achieve these?

If so, please spread the word (remember the importance of continuous communication…) and/or email NatlibFuture@dia.govt.nz

P.S. Want to read more about OPEN 2017? Check out Kat’s A LIANZA #open17 Bibliography.

Vinh Giang – Open Your Mind

Heading to a keynote speaker who is a magician and entrepreneur, I did not know what to expect – particularly at a library conference.  However, Giang truly did open my mind!

Vinh Giang's keynote at LIANZA Conference 2017.
An audience volunteer with Vinh Giang during his keynote.

As you know librarians love a story. Giang shared the personal tale of how his parents risked their lives to escape Vietnam to start a new life as refugees in Australia. They worked very hard to ensure the family got ahead. This resulted in Giang and his brother being left at the local public library while their parents worked long hours.

The library staff embraced the family with “love and kindness” and played card games with them. One day a library staff member showed 11-year old Giang a magic book. This book and the card games were clearly life influencing and would eventually lead to a unique career.

Years later, Giang decided to drop out of university to become a magician. The hardest thing was telling his parents because he felt he had been brought up to achieve academically. Surprisingly, Vinh’s parents were very supportive. They said they didn’t risk their lives to start a new life where he had to do something he didn’t want to do. They wanted him to be happy and have opportunities.

His father encouraged him and stated,

“jump as high as you can in life. As long as I am alive boy, I will forever be your net.”

A relieved Giang then cheekily asked his parents to help finance his proposed business using their investment property. Giang and his friends consequently started the Encyclopaedia of Magic, an online business.

Setting up this business was a risk and required a lot of hard work. Giang recognises the help and support he has received, particularly from family. Despite being very successful he endeavors to remain grounded and shared a Vietnamese saying,

“When you eat the fruit, always remember those who help you plant the tree.”

Illustrating some tricks Giang showed the audience that magic is the problem you can’t solve because of perspective. He highlighted the importance of looking at something from a different point of view, a different perspective. A filmed card trick shows one perspective, whereas a trick in real life shows another perspective.

According to Giang if we generally want to change what we are doing we need to consider completely different perspectives.

“Gather as many perspectives as you can. Perspective is power.”

“We don’t innovate by what others are doing in our industry.”

All of us in the GLAM sector can clearly learn a lot from each other. We should collaborate more – share successes, failures, ideas and findings. We should also look outside our industry for inspiration.

A sllide from Vinh Giang's keynote
A sllide from Vinh Giang’s keynote illustrating the possibilities inherent in gaining a different perspective,

A passionate Giang clearly illustrated his belief that when you improve individually, you improve professionally. He believes,

 “…you are the direct reflection of the top five people you spend time with.”

Giang pestered entrepreneur Matthew Michalewicz until he agreed to spend an hour with him. They are now best friends and Michalewicz is Vinh’s mentor. To reach full potential you have to feel good. If you feel you are lacking a skill or attribute bring someone into your top five. For example, you may need a public speaker.

According to Giang,

 “…your beliefs dictate you actions.”

Clearly, it is important we are positive and know where we are heading as a profession. It is good to set some individual goals and put your hand up to participate in project work. Learning new skills and being adaptable is essential in today’s workplace.

Giang emphasised the importance of taking the first step in processes and surrounding yourself with positive people.

After hearing Giang speak, I think it is important that we all learn to believe in ourselves. It is fundamental that we GLAM professionals develop a stronger voice and illustrate our worth in society. We should take pride in stories such as those of Giang who was clearly empowered by library staff. We are highly skilled, noble workers who come to work every day for the common good of helping other citizens.

Try not to be overwhelmed by projects and opportunities.  Gather different perspectives on the way and remember to take one step at a time!  Be prepared to change perspectives and look at other opportunities around you.

A LIANZA #open17 Bibliography

Kat, Kim, Sally & Amy
Kat, Kim, Sally & Amy. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

Want to find out more about the #open17 conference which took place at Addington Raceway, Christchurch 24-27 September 2017? Then take a look at this list of blogs and videos…

  • October’s edition of Library Life is a great place to get a number of people’s reflections from conference.
  • To see recordings of keynotes and sessions from the main plenary head to the LIANZA GigTV site. Please note it will ask for your name and email address. Keynotes will also be uploaded to the LIANZA YouTube channel.

If you know of anything I’ve missed or anything new do let us know!

The Future Sound of Libraries- Matt Finch: OPEN17 LIANZA Conference

Ah. Matt Finch’s keynote. He gave us Chris. Or should I say “Chrises”.

Then this.

We danced to this … and danced a library.

… For Alex and for the power of remembrance.

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).

Amy Walduck and Sally Turbitt.

Rachael and Hamish talked about the important and life-changing work Auckland Libraries is doing with the streeties community. (read A home for the homeless: Rachael Rivera and the Auckland Library Streeties).

And we finished with a lineup of these awesome GLAMR peoples.
Kia ora. Bravo. Inspirational. Thanks.

More Matt

More LIANZA

A selector’s view of the LIANZA Conference

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:

  • Customer experience
  • eBook usage and licensing agreements
  • Being open to indigenous knowledge.
Kim Tairi keynote
Kim Tairi keynote. LIANZA Conference 2015. Flickr LIANZA-2015-IMG_0843

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.
  • Follow the #open17 hashtag on Twitter for conference-related tweets.

Cornelia Oehler
Selection & Access Librarian