Being open

My intention with writing a post about attending OPEN17, this year’s LIANZA Conference was always to pick a session or two of interest and report back on them… however as often happens at these kind of events, what you think going in, and what you think coming out, are vastly different things. Some sessions I thought would fire with me didn’t, others that I didn’t expect much from resonated. You just never can tell from an abstract, I guess.

And just as important as the individual sessions is the way that themes and ideas from different ones can interact with each other in your mind, achieving a kind of cerebral synergy. So please bear with as I attempt to un-knot some of these intertwined ideas and explain their relationships to each other.

In terms of keynotes there were two that really got me thinking; Laurinda Thomas – The Dangerous Myth about librarians – and Vinh Giang – Open your mind. The appeal of the first was not so much of a surprise to me. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Laurinda in the past about some of the issues she touched on in her presentation so I was fairly sure she and I would be on the same wavelength. We both believe that libraries have fallen into the trap of helping perpetuate narratives that do not serve our industry well. That we chronically undersell ourselves and use language that belittles us. That we need to be bold and open to change and think about ourselves in a completely different way.

"Words have power" slide from Laurinda Thomas's keynote
“Words have power” slide from Laurinda Thomas’s keynote

Vinh Giang’s presentation was very different from this (as you would expect from a motivational speaker/magician) but in common were the ideas of changing your perception to change your reality, how the words you use (what he called “linguistic influence) can have a powerful effect, and self-belief. In many ways Laurinda’s talk was the “what that might look like in a library context” other half of Vinh’s session. He also talked about taking the blinders off and actively looking for opportunities. Advice that I took during conference myself, to great effect (more on that later).

Vinh Giang gives his keynote
Vinh Giang gives his keynote

Creating opportunities was something that came up in Hana O’Regan’s keynote too – namely how her determination to reclaim te reo created opportunities for her to learn her own history. Without this skill the Māori world would be largely closed off to her, the discovery of a Māori literary heritage (in the form of Niupepa) would not have been accessible to her and the ability to deconstruct the myths that Māori hold about themselves would have been greatly diminished. Hana spoke with great heart and it was clear that much of what she has achieved in building te reo capability within her own children is through sheer bloody-mindedness and – there’s that word again – self-belief.

Away from the keynotes some of the smaller sessions contained gold if you looked for it too. In particular I was very taken with Jane Cherry’s session, An Open Smile, which looked into the science and research behind smiling and why frontline staff should absolutely be doing it despite their many reservations – all of which were voiced to sometimes rather comical effect by Jane – including a stubborn determination to not be as friendly as “a shop”… for some reason. I found this session brought up many of the themes as discussed above, including the rather limiting “that’s not what a library does” perception still held by some.

Jane Cherry presenting at LIANZA conference 2017
Jane Cherry presents at Open 17. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

On a personal level, I decided to be open to opportunities in a most practical fashion – despite never having bothered with it before (partly because I am deathly afraid of having awkward conversations with salespeople) – I undertook to get my conference passport stamped at all the vendor stands in the exhibition hall, and then enter the prize draw. This turned out to be quite the mission, though not too onerous, and in the process I acquired “swag” that has resulted in sunflower plants starting to grown in our garden, returning to the office bestowing gifts like the King Midas of pens, and my toddler now has a new favourite bedtime pal aka a little stuffed lion (courtesy of the generous folk at Emerald Publishing). I also entered every vendor competition I came across.

Result? I won a Fitbit that I didn’t particularly want but which I am now borderline obsessed with and a nice bottle of wine. Keep your eyes open for opportunities and amazing things (and free plonk) can happen!

Some light library inspo to start the New Year…

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.

“The World Wide Web is the reading room of the 21st century” – Bill MacNaught, National Librarian.

“The library is the Agora of the community” + “libraries need to be more like Bowie” – Kim Tairi, University Librarian, Swinburne University.

Kim Tairi keynote
Kim Tairi keynote. LIANZA Conference. Wednesday 11 November 2015. Flickr LIANZA-2015-IMG_0853

“Do what people need but market what they want” – Ned Potter from the University of York and his Library Marketing Manifesto.

Ned Potter
Ned Potter. LIANZA Conference. Tuesday 10 November 2015. Flickr LIANZA-2015-IMG_0702

 

New in professional reading

This is a list of recently purchased titles, (in a fairly dull format unfortunately) but hopefully brimming with interesting titles for your professional enjoyment! Topics covered include searching, study, library design, leadership, web design and social media.

Searching:

Computer skills:

Professional development:

Leadership:

Design:

Study:

Web design and social media:

Jane Keenan.  Library Content, Selection and Access

CCL at LIANZA 2013

Christchurch City Libraries were well represented among the presenters at LIANZA 2013.

Sally also presented on her recent European trip and we’ll post that as soon as we have it.

The full range of conference papers from LIANZa 2013 can be found on the LIANZA website.

Get an international mentor today! (or maybe in September…)

International Librarians NetworkThe International Librarians Network is a peer mentoring program aimed at helping librarians develop international networks. They believe that innovation and inspiration can cross borders, and that spreading networks beyond our home countries can make us better at what we do.

Sounds like a good idea to me, such a good idea in fact that I’ve gone and signed up!

If you would like to know more, or even sign up (go on!) take a moment to check them out.

Come on September, only 177 days to go…