I love Bookrapt

Here’s a chance to reflect on my ongoing involvement with Bookrapt, the Bay of Plenty Children’s Literature Association.

For two years from October 2011 to October 2013, I held the role of President of Bookrapt.

As well as supporting committee members with their tasks, chairing meetings and writing annual reports my activities included helping organise the judging panels for the regional heats of the Kids Lit Quiz, speaking at four book launches, completing a successful funding application, organising and MC-ing two seminars, coordinating our 30 year anniversary celebrations involving Dame Lynley Dodd and adopting a new Patron – Phyllis Johnston.

I found my time as President rewarding, with the most enjoyable aspect being able to acknowledge the achievements of local authors. Bookrapt gives me the opportunity to network with librarians from other sectors, writers, illustrators, teachers, parents and others who share a love of children and young adult literature.

Such fun!


Digital Trends on a Collision Course

Another belated reading reflection. I’ve just caught up on the 2013 IFLA Report ‘Riding the Waves or Caught in the Tide? Navigating the Evolving Information Environment’

The report identifies broad trends that are shaping the information environment. These trends have been driven by technological change and range from access to education, privacy, civic engagement, and transformation of the information economy.

This report emphasised to me how important the role of librarian continues to be and how crucial it is we are prepared for change. As mobile devices become more ubiquitous, society becomes more hyper-connected and more government services go online, intermediaries will increasingly be needed to help those without digital literacy skills. Librarians will need to know how to deal with privacy issues once ‘Google Glass is in the building”. As providers of e-content we need to think about the responsibilities we have to protect our user’s data and how we will continue to support serendipitous discovery when the dominant mode of search is that of the algorithm.

Money Matters

In the second half of last year I completed a  ‘Financial and Managerial Accounting’ paper – the  second of four papers in the Post Graduate Certificate in Leadership that I am undertaking through University of Waikato. Although at post-graduate level, the financial concepts were covered at a basic level suitable for managers like me, who although they may have  some financial management experience and skills, do not have accounting qualifications or in-depth financial analysis knowledge.

Topics covered included taxation, depreciation, ratio analysis, reading financial statements and cost accounting. Group assignments involved completing a Financial Analysis and a Balanced Scorecard for an organisation of our choice. We chose BoPPoly for the former, and Waikato Students’ Union for the latter.

learning accounting... by rnav1234, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  rnav1234 

This paper has developed my understanding of financial concepts which will be useful in my current role managing library and health services within in a tertiary institution.  I now read financial statements with more understanding, although my ratio analysis skills are still developing and I could do with more practice. I learnt that a financial analysis not only considers the financial health of an organisation but political, social and environmental factors too.

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My Twitter beginning

Social media bunnies with DK photobombing

Social media bunnies with DK photobombing

Last year I attended a LIANZA Social Media Workshop facilitated by DK  aka  @justadandak.   This practical training involved the use of various social media tools including Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo. The workshop was the impetus for me to develop a personal learning network on Twitter, get active with my tweeting, and start to use other platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram and WordPress.

Using Twitter has helped me identify and follow inspiring librarians, technology whizzes, leadership gurus, and other interesting people. Participating in both personal and professional twitter conversations has helped me develop and share my ideas about library services, and life in general! There are so many amazing people on Twitter, doing all sorts of clever and kind things to make the world a better place. I have encouraged a social media culture amongst my colleagues, am about to launch a work  twitter account to promote and increase engagement with Ako Ātea services, and my team regularly contribute to the wider Polytechnic social media activities. It’s all been a real blast!  You’ll find me on Twitter @leerowe.

Making a video at DK's workshop

Making a video at DK’s workshop

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Leadership in Practice

In the first half of last year I completed a paper called ‘Educational Leadership in Higher Education’ which was the first of four papers in a Post-Graduate Certificate in Leadership that I’m doing through University of Waikato.

This paper enabled me to explore theories and concepts of leadership, and use these to reflect on my own leadership practice. One of the assignments involved creating a ‘Leadership Platform’ where I identified some of my key personal values, reflected on how I demonstrate these values and sought feedback from colleagues on how well I live these values at work. This was an enlightening and satisfying process.

Doing this paper was a transformational learning experience and has helped me to increase my level of self-awareness. It has also given me an understanding of how I, along with my organisation, am influenced by wider contextuall factors, including the prevailing neo-liberal educational environment.  I find leadership theory fascinating and thoroughly enjoyed the classroom discussions, readings, and assignments.  A few of the books I read during the course:  Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Leadership: The Challenge for the Information Profession by Sue Roberts and Jennifer Rowley and Authentic Leadership by Bill George.

After completing the paper, I shared my Leadership Platform with my team, with the aim of helping them to understand my values and the expectations that flow out of these.  This was followed by several team sessions which gave the staff an opportunity to share their own values and what is important to them.


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Mātauranga Maori within NZ Libraries Workshop

I attended this Te Rōpū Whakahau  workshop held at Taiwhakaea Marae, Whakatane, in August 2011. (Yes, it has taken me nearly 3 years to write this reflection.)

As a pakeha, I gained a deeper understanding of concepts including a Māori worldview, Māori knowledge constructs, and values such as manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga and rangatiratanga.  I learned that librarians have an important role as a liaison between the Western and Māori worlds. We are the Kaitiaki of both resources and of people – our colleagues and library community. I felt privileged to hear some of the stories behind this beautiful Marae, and this helped me go beyond just a theoretical understanding of the Marae as a method of research in itself.

To prepare for the workshop we were asked to describe the Māori collections within our own institution, consider where the Treaty of Waitangi sits within our policies, and discuss the role of Māori staff . We were also required to demonstrate our understanding of Te Rōpū Whakahau and its partnership with LIANZA.  This preparatory work was valuable in itself, and I liked the pedagogy behind this exercise. It indicated that an expectation that we actively participate in the learning being offered to us.

The knowledge I gained at this workshop has helped me in the work I do at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic where there is a strong focus on increasing the educational achievement of Maori students.

Thanks to Te Rōpū Whakahau and presenters Tangimeriana Rua, Eddie Neha, Hinerangi Kara, and Whina Te Whiu for putting together the workshop, and to Manu and the people of Taiwhakaea Marae  for sharing their stories, knowledge, and kai with us.

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Paddling the Waters : Our Journey to Ako Atea

Recently I gave a presentation at LIANZA Conference 2013: Wai Ora, Wai Maori, Waikato: the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa’s conference in Hamilton. My paper was called Paddling the Waters : our Journey to Ako Atea, and it was written with my colleague Justin Heke. It is about our new model of integrated learning and library support at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic. The presentation explains some of the drivers for the change, outlines some of our successes and challenges, and ends with my thoughts about the skills and leadership practices that seem to me to be suited to this model of service. Here is the link to the visual presentation on Slideshare with accompanying notes. You can read the full paper here : Paddling the Waters

Nga mihi nui


Is that rule doing anything useful?

Today I tried to place a hold on a book from my local public library but because I owe $11 in fees the system blocked me from proceeding. (The limit is $10) I can understand that there should be a block on being able to issue books when a borrower owes a certain amount of money but this block on placing holds seems an unnecessary barrier to me. After all I will have to pay the fees when I issue the books. There may be reasons for such a block which I don’t know about, but it is frustrating and just puts me off using the service.

It made me think about the learning commons  that I manage and whether we can make any changes that will encourage more open access to the collections. We have been focusing on removing as many barriers as we can over the last few years. These are some of the things we have eliminated or reduced:

Late fees

Security gates

Blocks on being able to renew overdue items

Limit on number of books able to be borrowed (increased to 50… maybe we could have no limit)

Limits on number of renewals (need to bring items in to library after 3 renewals to be sighted, then can take out again)

Blocks on being able to place hold if have overdue items

Perhaps there are many more barriers that we can remove. I’m going to take another good look. For example the one  I’ve been thinking about for a while is our “no ID card, no borrowing” rule, which regularly stops borrowing and is a bone of contention amongst the staff. Is enforcing this policy really necessary? Perhaps there are other ways of validating borrower identity.

I think some rules may still be needed to enable and enhance access for all library borrowers, but it is important to regularly question whether these rules are actually necessary.

When is the last time you reviewed your library’s policies with the view to enhancing access?

Jumping Ship

Jumping Ship

I’ve just read Glenn Colquhoun’s book of essays and poems called Jumping Ship and found it so compelling I’ve been finding any excuse to talk about it. Colquhoun’s writing is inspirational and profound at the same time as being down to earth and satisfying. Here are 3 reasons why I loved this book:

1.It speaks to me as a Pakeha trying to define myself and figure out what my culture and story is. It is both challenging and affirming. He writes: “As an immigrant culture it seems at times that Pakeha are a book without a cover, one with the first chapter missing. For me, being Pakeha is extremely exciting. It means we get a chance to write that chapter, or at least compile the stories that reveal it.” He also says this: “The most difficult thing about majorities is not that they cannot see minorities but that they cannot see themselves.” So true! And this: “It is unbelievable that Pakeha, so recently exposed to what happened in the past, can have so quickly grown tired of claims against them, rewarding themselves with the right of a backlash. This is the argument of a man beating a woman who, when dragged off her by others, complains that everyone is against them” God I wish every Pakeha would read and reflect on these ideas. Maybe the constant stream of racist letters to the editor about treaty claims in my local paper might ease off a bit.

2.For what he says about teaching poetry in New Zealand. He asks why Nga Moteatea is not taught in schools. Why is this most incredible poetry not more widely known and celebrated? He suggests it is time for a new translation of Nga Moteatea “so they can be introduced to a wider world… and to shine light on them and to revitalise our own language and literature”. wouldn’t this be so amazing?

3.For what he says about pain and sadness and loneliness (or ‘ache’ as he calls it). In a society that focuses on always ‘being positive’ and seeing the ‘glass half full’, it is refreshing and touching to read something so deep and thoughtful about this side of the human condition. We often cover up our experiences of pain and grief or diminish this feeling in our interactions with others which often makes it hurt more. It is too hard to summarise what Colquhoun says about this here. He uses his own experiences and his own abilities as a poet and doctor to explain his ideas. Read it, I guarantee you will be moved.

This is one of those rare books that I will be re-reading, referring to, and raving about for a long time to come. Jumping Ship (2012) is written by Glenn Colquhoun and published by Steele Roberts.

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Finding your Fit

This is a follow up to my post yesterday about the benefits of defining your values. Once you’ve got your values sorted, then you can start to think about how they align to the values of any organisations that you are involved with or work for. garage final alignment 01 Garage Final Alignment by Dr John Bullas on Flickr CCLicence

In the past, I have done this without realising what I was doing – I subsconciously found a way of lining myself up within the culture of my workplace or other organisations I’ve been a part of.

Now I do it in a more explicit way, and as a leader, I try to talk about this often with my team. It’s a strategic way of thinking and working, which can be incredibly beneficial to both you and the organisation. Having a good awareness of the relationship between you and the organisation may help you feel more connected and involved – both parties will get a lot more out of the relationship.

Here’s an example of how I have aligned the goal and values of my employer The Bay of Plenty Polytechnic (on the left) with some of my own values and their associated behaviours (on the right)

This is a really satisfying exercise to do – well worth it if you have the time. If you find it very difficult to align your own values with those of your organisation, then this may be something to think about. It could be that there is a mismatch between what you think is important and what the organisation you are involved with thinks as important. Is this the right place for you? Hopefully this isn’t the case though, I’m sure you can find some good connections.

(Of course, all this assumes that you know what your organisation’s values are. If you organisation does not have stated values, then consider its goal or purpose, and the general culture of the workplace. How do you fit with this culture?)

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