Archive for the ‘LIANZA’ Category

What To Read Locally

The first thing I wanted to do when refreshing this blog was to look at what reading I could find for local issues. My head has been firmly stuck in a narrow realm of the Library would (Digital Preservation) and I think I should get back to looking more widely if I am going to blog more regularly here.

For local reading we have a few resources.

LIANZA produces a monthly newsletter called LibraryLife. They also, in conjunction with the School of Information Management from Victoria University of Wellington, help publish the New Zealand Library Information Management Journal. Both contain good example’s of library reading.

Victoria University also makes available online the various research papers from the students who study library science. There are three collection, the Masters of Information Systems, The Masters of Information Management and the Masters of Library ans Information Science.

What we don’t do well, which I think is a shame, is publish papers presented at the Library conferences over the years.


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With the cuts to library staff in Auckland the future of libraries is in the media again. This morning there was a very good discussion on Radio NZ around this.

“Victoria University professor of library and information management Anne Goulding and Laurinda Thomas, a past president of LIANZA and a team leader at Wellington Libraries, join Wallace to discuss the future of public lending libraries.”


Laurinda and Anne were very patient with Wallace who seemed surprised that people still like to use libraries. *sigh*

Laurinda has done an excellent job recently in advocating for libraries and if you have missed her TEDX Wellington talk you should take the time to watch.

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This is my reflection on Day 4 of LIANZA 13. It includes some of the specifics of the day and was originally published on my personal blog.

The last day of a conference is always interesting – how may people have gone home? How many people are still to wake up after the conference dinner fun the night before? How many people are here and mainlining coffee?

The first keynote was Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith from Waikato University. There was so much in her presentation that resonated with what I’m interested in.

  • Maori staff (often) come into organisations with their iwi and hapu identities.  For those staff, it’s a responsibility to serve the bigger community – to serve the language, serve the culture. Therefore they are often looked to as exponents of the Maori language and tikanga. This can be part of a hidden workload – service to the organisation in powhiri, karakia, waiata, poroporoake, tangihanga etc.
  • Many of our institutions try to absorb Maori into existing structures. The challenge for institutions is to engage with difference on the inside (of people), to recognise and reward (not punish) for the hidden workload.
  • For institutions that want to build Maori capacity – build a long term agenda and commitment to build transformation within. Requires leadership. There is implicit knowledge that’s at work in those environments so share the values of the organisation and the people in it. Build structures for discussion – talk about the issue, then address it if reasonable. Institutional culture change can occur within a very small unit of staff. Institutions must see this as a learning journey. Figure it out together. Needs leadership which doesn’t go into panic mode when there’s a minor crisis.
  • Don’t put the pressure on one Maori to carry the whole Maori world and the Pakeha world at the same time. Individuals are individuals.
  • The more that Maori shape our future, the more we can determine it. Our aspirations are to engage in positive ways.

This is one of her aims for her life.

  • Live a life that builds something so that other people don’t have to fight society – try and make society better.

I like it. I think Libraries can be great contributors to that idea.

Professor Smith also showed me some of the things to do/watch out for as I go into discussions with LIANZA and Te Ropu Whakahau about focusing the kaupapa of LIANZA so we can be in the future with a uniquely NZ point of view. I appreciate (and am pleased by) the attitudes of people who I have already talked to, and their willingness to engage with the question.

Also speaking on Day 4 was Nat Torkington. He’s one of my favourite speakers – always entertaining, very smart and sharp on learning and information ideas. (Plus he’s not afraid to be a bit sweary.)

  • When you see people who are doing things with tech, or their services “you don’t become like them by buying the artifacts. [there is] an ocean of possible artifacts and toys.“ What we don’t see is the pedagogy behind it which is how to understand how and why it’s being used. Laptops aren’t the answer. “The transformative power if that stuff is sweet fuck all, unless you change the thinking and attitudes of the teachers and students. Otherwise you only have a classroom with Macs in it.
  • To see something that you don’t understand and see it as a threat, that’s deadly.
  • Teaching as inquiry – Hypothesis > Evidence> Research > Action > Evidence > Reflection > Hypothesis (repeat). This is a good model for a way to embrace learning for (and about) the future. (One school used an open Google doc for staff which included – this is the thing I’m doing, this is what I’ve learned. Public sharing of the individual learning which validates learning and experimentation. Staff only had to pick one thing to work on at a time.)
  • Don’t make the mistake of doing the futuring TO something, do it WITH someone.

I haven’t been to a full LIANZA conference for a few years (small library, small staff) and this conference has convinced me more than ever of the importance of attending the full event. There are themes outside of the official conference theme which rise during the four days. There are so many people to continue building relationships with that it can’t all be done in a day or two days.

I’m finishing this reflection with something that Nat said. On the day I was so entertained by his presentation that I missed the care for learning, libraries, and librarians that permeated his words. I think this is simultaneously a challenge, and a hope for the future.

You can make your own damn future.

Open document with the notes from LIANZA13 Day 4. Please add your own notes!

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This is my reflection on Day 3 of LIANZA 13. It includes some of the specifics of the day and was originally published in two slightly different formats on my personal blog.

Phew! What a day. I’ve made these notes in the 20 minutes before the Conference Dinner.

  • Presenters are really building on each other’s words, deliberately picking up the themes (which I’ve already written about) and reinforcing them with their own take on it. Weaving together the things they’ve heard (especially the keynotes), making new meaning from it. The human/people element really came to the fore today. Generosity, reciprocity, be nice to each other.
  • Lots of change management projects taking the same process of dialogue and discussion with the teams to discover many of the same things. Still vital as it’s the people in the organisation who are in the change – helps to feel empowered to make the changes.
  • “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. There’s a reason the change is happening.” Good final presentation words from Will & Christine from VicUni.
  • Take control of your own learning. Embrace your failures – may not have worked for you but it might work for me!
  • Expanding on the idea of LIANZA approaching the future from a uniquely NZ context – using Te Ao Maori as a basis for tikanga, kaupapa, and kawa for the association. Had a quick chat with someone who might be able to help – great opportunity for Te Ropu Whakahau and LIANZA to collaborate. I also have an idea about how to bring a Maori worldview into your organisation by approaching other people in the organisation who are curious about Maori concepts – don’t worry if you can’t reach your managers. Build a movement around yourself and the people who are interested as a start.
  • Really noticed the manaakitanga of the Claudelands events team. Quick change of the rooms – efficient, sound like they’re having a laugh while they’re doing it. Invisible and efficient wait staff, visible reception team. Thanks crews!

Open document with the notes from LIANZA13 Day 3. Please add your own notes!

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LIANZA13 Day 1 reflection

This is my reflection on Day 1 of LIANZA 13. It includes some of the specifics of the day and was originally published in a slightly different format on my personal blog.

I started the day with a workshop on the future of the profession based on the ALIAFutures discussion which has been going on over in the West Island. There were many interesting ideas floated by the participants in the workshop this morning. I appreciated the fact that they seemed to be very practical thoughts about the future and what we could do about it. One theme I noticed cropping up was an idea of polarisation.

  • The haves and the have nots.
  • The digitally rich and the digitally poor.
  • The educated and the uneducated.
  • The urban and the country.
  • The global and the local.

The last one in particular was one I got very excited about. As things (education, services, entertainment) get more global (or national) there’s an opportunity for libraries to be more local. To really focus in on their communities. To in fact be the institution that offers community events for the whole community. (I also went on a bit of a rant about changing the way we think so that instead of ‘demonstrating our value’ we are ‘providing value so that others make our argument for us’. I haven’t quite got it down to a pithy

In the afternoon we were welcomed to the conference with a powhiri at Turangawaewae. I was impressed with the orientation to the powhiri process given by one of the committee members as we traveled to Ngaruawahia on the bus. It felt really special to be at Turangawaewae which is an important location (physical and symbolic) for the Waikato. We were treated to some delicious kai (thanks ringawera!) and then our first keynote, Nanaia Mahuta spoke.

These are the things that she said that resonated with me. (Paraphrased because my notetaking abilities were hampered by a dying phone battery.)

  • The seen and the unseen make up the world of knowledge.
  • Context is important. Place is important. Somewhere like this marae is timeless.
  • Notice the powerful transformative nature of knowledge.
    Navigate through information then pause and reflect to create knowledge.

She also talked about individuals going out into the world, learning new things, then incorporating that back into their lives.

That got me thinking about the opportunities for LIANZA in the future. I’d really like to see LIANZA respond to the future from a uniquely NZ point of view which includes a Maori perspective. I’d like to see us hold our own powhiri as an expression of that. (‘Hold’ in a more holistic sense, a sort of mashup of ‘run the event, hold the line, look after everything’ sense.) I’d like to see us pay more than lip-service to the idea of biculturalism and I’d like to see libraries follow that. I’m not sure how realistic this is because it would mean a fundamental change to organisational culture which would be difficult. However, linking it back to the globalisation/localisation discussion, it’s a smart choice which preserves the uniqueness of our NZ philosophy towards information and knowledge while at the same time giving us a position on the global stage.

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This is a report back from the SLIS Wellington meeting on 5 September 2013. The three speakers each talked about an aspect of career management/development.

Lynley Stone talked about the results of the career survey which she ran on behalf of LIANZA in 2012 in order to “gain a solid understanding how library careers evolve in our rapidly changing world“. There was a good response from librarians across the sector, including lots of thoughtful (and thought-provoking) comments. Lynley decided she’d include the comments in the report – which is partly why it’s so long. For this presentation she focused on some of the things she thought were important for librarians in special libraries to know.

  • “Reality check: there is complacency from participants in traditional roles in larger libraries.” Special librarians by contrast were more aware of the need for a proactive attitude towards up-skilling, multiple roles, and the need for professional networking and support. (Apparently there were times during the analysis of the data when Lynley felt a bit depressed. I’m not surprised.)
  • Themes around qualifications – lots of comments around this. Librarians need a qualification but it alone does not make you a good librarian; it needs to be current but does not need to be in Library and Information Services. Individuals need to know the most appropriate Library and Information Services qualification for the role they want to get.
  • Themes around recruitment and applying for jobs – what to do, what not to do. Section 12 has more information on Career Development.

Kat Cuttriss, Campus Librarian at Massey University’s Wellington Campus, looked at career planning for staff. She used a very good metaphor about  career flight paths, and described four types of staff. (She was looking at career planning from a manager’s point of view.)

  • Eagle – is focused, ambitious, tenacious.  Provide opportunities for them to use that in their current role, expect them to leave.
  • Godwit – takes time out from libraries to do something else. Recognise and value their diverse experience.
  • Kiwi – know what works for them and is happy where they are. Keep them challenged and engaged using opportunities in their current role. (Includes elsewhere in the organisation.
  • Kea – enjoys difference and diversity, usually the first to volunteer for something new. Give plans and frameworks in order to help them focus.

There was lots of nodding during this section as people recognised themselves. Then she talked generally about having a fulfilling career.

  • Aim for high job satisfaction as well as career progression.
  • Look for opportunities for learning- including transferable skills.
  • “Build your bridges, don’t burn them.” (The Library world is quite a small one.)
  • Remember – if you don’t like something – Accept it OR Change it OR Get out.

Courtney Johnston, currently Director of Hutt City Museums (The Dowse) described her career to date. This includes working at the City Gallery, National Library, and Boost New Media. She said that there were two characteristics of her career – addition (adding other roles onto her official role), and following charismatic leaders. She had this advice:

  • Be aware of the leadership style of the person you’re working for
  • In a management role – prepare to get your kicks out of your team’s enjoyment of their jobs
  • Aim high – jump for the jobs you think you can’t do.
  • ‘Frame yourself’ – know what distinguishes you from your colleagues (or other applicants for the role)
  • Do stuff around the edges – e.g. blog about your interests etc.
  • Make sure your Position Description is up to date and reflects what you are actually doing

Themes from the evening:

  • Know yourself – your skills, how you work
  • Know others – their skills, the way they work
  • Think strategically – you don’t need to get a new job to change what you’re doing.
  • The importance of this kind of meeting to share information. (Other GLAM sectors do not have it as regularly.)

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Day three began with a great keynote from Michael Houlihan, CEO of Te Papa.  I was looking forward to this one because I do love what Te Papa do with their social media presence and engaging with their public.  Houlihan suggests that now Te Papa is a “spotty adolescent” there are questions that should be addressed to move the institution forward in the next 10 years to maturity.  These are good questions to ask ourselves too.

  1. Who are you here for? Why are you here? Where to invest? What to invest in that will help the place run as a business so people’s visits are comfortable (Te Papa has to keep the toilet rolls coming in)!
  2. Are we transformational? The impact we have on our audience is really important.  This was a theme that came through in this conference and is a good one to look at although, in some places can be difficult to measure and report on.
  3. Are we being a forum for the future –  how do we interact with events and public interests?
  4. Have you got an issue to focus on? E.g. Te Papa are looking at sustainability, environmental issues
  5. Treasuring the treasures? For example, where do we go for the history of science and technology in New Zealand?  It’s not just about arts.
  6. Connecting with people? Are we doing this and focusing on the learning outcomes?  Museum collections are becoming more about individual’s stories and less impersonal.  Houlihan illustrated this in an effective way by passing around “a piece of rubbish”.  At the end of the presentation he expanded on this item which turned out to be a part of a boot heel from a Welsh soldier he had picked up from the field of battle at Mametz Wood.  He showed a photo of the memorial at the battle field and described the carnage that occurred.  (As it happened, I was holding the boot heel at the time it was so poignant).  As Houlihan said, we were touching history.
  7. Are we sharing authority? With iwi, with our clients, online and IRL.
  8. Going digital? There are always a lot of ideas on how and what to do with this, but not so much input about the how.
  9. Are we keeping fit? Are we a learning organisation?
  10. Are we staying touch? Are we keeping people involved?
  11. Getting down to business and providing value for money?
  12. Telling your story? There are people and venues where our voice needs to be heard.  Are we actually doing that?  Where is our political voice?
  13. Are we building sustainable leadership? Where are the leaders of tomorrow for our institutions?  Houlihan sees this as a real issue in New Zealand and others at conference agree.

Houlihan says libraries and museums unlock a world of information and provide context – we should never loose sight of that.

After morning tea I attended Cherie Tautolo’s session “Tai Tokerau taniwha rau: empowering students to achieve” where she illustrated what she has been doing in in Whangarei to support the students there.  The student population there is almost an even split between Māori and non-Māori. Cherie has made physical changes to her space to improve the wairua of the library so students feel more comfortable there.  She advocates creating a sense of familiarity and providing a mix of spaces within a library.  For example, areas that allow discussion and noise are appreciated by Māori who find the idea of a “silent” space off putting.  I would comment that we find many students of all kinds of cultures are the same – group work and discussion areas are heavily used at MPOW.  Much of what Cherie passed on is good customer relations practice – make connections (personal as well) with your students, know their names and so on.  This is easier to do at smaller campuses, but it is possible to do this also at larger places.  As with all populations, building relationships with users is always fruitful.  Cherie also participates in campus events which facilitates relationships too. Cherie referred to a survey that found one of the major reasons Māori feel uncomfortable is the lack of Māori staff and students there.  Normalising the presence of Māori in the library will assist to make the place more inviting.

I also attended a workshop on Empowering users, empowering libraries: interactive user interaction, activities and games that work and a research session More than a quiz.  Both these sessions were more affirming than informative for me, but I am still glad of the affirmation!  Sometimes it helps to know that we’re doing stuff the same as other libraries.

Andrew Booth’s presentation pimped the importance of evidence-based library and information practice (EBLIP).  This is something I’ve heard before but I appreciated his highlighting some of the biases and myths we perpetuate in the profession.  For example, myth number 2: the librarian always knows best or The Divine Right of Librarians. This is something I’m always saying – we have to be very careful about thinking we know what our users want.  Booth says librarians have two primary cognitive bias:

1) status quo – the tendency to like things to stay relatively the same

2) deformation professionalle – a tendency to look at things from the point of view of one’s own profession rather than from a broader perspective

Booth posits (somewhat tongue in cheek) that if we’re not practicing EBLIP we may be performing some of these alternative practices (Isaacs & Fitzgerald, 1999)

  • Eminence based library and information practice
  • Vehemence based library and information practice
  • Eloquence based library and information practice
  • Providence based library and information practice
  • Diffidence based library and information practice

The conference dinner was a blast – pictures here.

Day Four began with Jenica Rogers presenting a motivational keynote advocating project managing your dreams.  She had many good things to say – but Deborah has ably summarized it better than I, so I’m going to defer to her on this one.  One thing that did resonate with me was her final commentary pointing out that farmers everywhere in the world always say “it hasn’t been a good year”, but they still keep farming anyway.  It’s easy to look at all the obstacles and difficulties that we face and feel daunted by it all.  But it’s never been a good year for libraries so we should just suck it up, get over it and get on with it.

As Lianza11 ends, the conference convenors for Lianza12 take over the reins for next in Palmerston North, 23rd-26 Sept with the overarching theme of Ipukarea (which refers to our ancestral homeland, a place that representing our history and a place to go for rejuvenation) plus additional themes of celebrate, sustain, and transform.

Overall, for me the conference was more about affirmation than anything new and exciting.  I’m glad I went because it has given me an opportunity to present a couple of posters and reflect a little on where I am and where I want to go.

Isaacs, D. & Fitzgerald, D. (1999). Seven alternatives to evidence based medicine. British Medical Journal. 319 (1618). Retrieved from http://www.bmj.com

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