Tag Archives: LIANZA

Future of Libraries Summit

I was lucky enough to attend the Future of Libraries Summit last Friday in Wellington. It was co-hosted by LIANZA and Te Rōpū Whakahau and 160 people attended from all over Aotearoa.


The aim of the day was to build on the work that is occurring in various parts of the library profession by taking a “cross-sectoral approach to the future of libraries, to discuss the challenges for the sector and agree on a collaborative action plan to take the profession forward”

Phew! No pressure! 

It seems there was an excellent response to the idea of the summit – library workers are clearly eager to participate in the conversation about where the profession is headed. I know a few people who were disappointed not to be able to attend for one reason or another, so it was great that there was the opportunity to listen in online and also follow the tweet stream at #FoL15. The tweeters were very active and the event trended number one.

The format of the day was a facilitated workshop – after a mihi and inspiring introduction by LIANZA President Kris Wehipeihana, we were grouped at tables where the discussion was based on five questions:
1. What are the key drivers of the profession?
2. What would a flourishing library sector look like in 2025 if we address these key drivers?
3. What are we currently doing to address these drivers – at the library level, at the sector level, at the whole of profession level?
4. Where are the gaps?
5. Who should take responsibility for these gaps?
6. Where to from here?

Some of these questions were re-worded during the day to put a stronger focus on coming up with solutions. There was some concern expressed that many of the ideas generated were repeats of ideas discussed years ago and not moving us forward. We were then passionately urged by Kris to dig deeper and be more bold and courageous in expressing our ideas. I was impressed with the flexibility that occurred to try and make the day more valuable. I think that in some cases the verbal report backs to the whole group did not capture or represent all of the content generated in the discussions, so I am hopeful that the scribes at each table were able to record the ideas more fully. This was certainly the case on our table where I thought the vibe was mostly exciting and creative. We got bogged down a few times into negative territory but our Facilitator Sue Sutherland and other members of our table were good at turning that around.

Some of the key drivers (not all because I can’t remember, wish I had a copy of our notes!) discussed at my table were increasing inequality, neoliberalism, poverty and homelessness, the changing patterns of information access (libraries being bypassed), information overload, digital literacy, theories of learning, lack of diversity in staffing, the need for digital library skills in an organisation (as distinct from ‘corporate’ IT skills), the government’s online strategy, the tertiary education strategy, copyright and the need for open access, barriers to collaboration and innovative practice.

In response to this some of the things we talked about (again from memory!) were the innovations occurring in libraries such as Tauranga City Libraries partnering with the business sector including Venture Tauranga, Auckland Libraries’ makerspaces, community engagement happening at South Taranaki District Libraries, Kōtui, the shared library management and discovery service operating in most NZ public libraries. I also mentioned the integration of student support and library services in my place of work, Ako Ātea, at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic. Here students can be connected with other services such as health and counselling, and programmes runs such as a weekly Breakfast Club to help improve the lives of students. All of these achievements were driven by a few people who had a clear vision and an understanding of the ‘why’ in what they wanted. The ‘why’ comes before the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ in any successful collaboration.

We also talked about the importance of the library as a safe place, and also about the role of a librarian as a trusted guide, a connector to information and resources, including to other people. We will have more people from other vocations working in our libraries to provide the expertise needed, such as IT, teaching, social work. Our librarians will know how to provide services for all types of learners, and design thinking will become an important skill. In the future (this really should be now or tomorrow!) we will all be able to articulate the value of our libraries, and this value will be recognised by our community and our funders.

We talked a lot about how to overcome barriers to collaboration and innovative practice such as taking action, ‘just doing it’, ‘asking for forgiveness not permission’ and it only takes 15-20% of a community to inspire a revolution. It was awesome to have Rab Heath from OMGTech on our table to spark some of these ideas. We discussed the concept of people who engage with libraries as ‘members’ (of the library community) rather than the uncomfortable terms customers or patrons. Rab told us that as a child using libraries he saw himself as a member of a tribe. In the future all tamariki will have a library card and be part of the ‘tribe’. There will be seamless access across the library sectors, one library card for all. We discussed the value of having a policy at high level to provide direction, but in the mean time we should just ‘do it’.

This was just a snippet of the discussions at our table, and it was interesting to hear the report backs from other tables, where I loved the concept of the ‘libraries without boundaries’ and a national approach to licencing. There is so much that is common to libraries in all sectors, if we develop a shared infrastructure, then we can focus our energy in co-designing the distinctive services that our varying communities need. There was a whole ‘nother conversation over on Twitter. Some valid comments were made here about the predominance of a Pākehā World View in the discussion, that male views seemed to be proportionally over-represented, and that a few people dominated the discussion at their table. It is disappointing this occurred and I celebrate the people who provided this feedback. I hope we (including me) can all listen and learn from this. I am aware this blog post represents yet another Pākehā perspective.

I look forward to the whole thing being collated and what comes next. I am keen to be further involved.

I am grateful to the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regional Committee of LIANZA for sponsoring my attendance that the summit, and the crew at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic for letting me go for the day.

I also thank LIANZA and Te Rōpū Whakahau for providing the opportunity for this level of engagement in the things that really matter. Thanks also to Table 15: Penny, Janet, Maria, Sue, Rab, Peter, Lynda, Richard, and Jay. I enjoyed spending the day with you.

The future of libraries in Aotearoa belongs to, and will be driven by our community; it is an open and enhanced future that enacts Te Ao Māori, where librarians  will continue, as they have always done, to improve the lives of people by facilitating knowledge creation.

Ngā mihi maioha

Lee Rowe

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A brief look back to LIANZA Conference and Telsig Forum 2013

Late last year I attended several inspirational conference presentations about the changing nature of libraries. These included the Presidential Address from Laurinda Thomas, keynotes from Nat Torkington and Penny Hagen at LIANZA 2013 Conference, and Mal Booth at Telsig 2013 Forum.

Key messages I absorbed are that although our ‘artefacts’ are changing libraries are still essential services with the potential to change lives. We are no longer just book and text based warehouses, but community based cultural hubs where new knowledge and insights are created. Our communities should be active participants in designing new services. I realised we could do more in my organisation to engage and involve our students and staff in planning new services.

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Embracing Change

In November of 2013 I attended the Telsig Forum in Auckland. I was struck by a keynote presentation by Lynley Stone of Information Workshop. Lynley spoke about the nature and impact of change, emphasising the difference between what we can and cannot control, and how important it is to act on that which is within our control. Change is normal and unsettling but we can do things to lessen its impact on us personally. Lynley encouraged us to look for opportunities to gain experience and training, perform our jobs well and think of ways to do them better in order to prepare well for inevitable change.

What I gained most was not so much the message but the way it was delivered. I wish I could have bottled Lynley’s presentation and taken it back with me to my workplace. Her message was strong and clear but told with kindness and empathy. I encourage my team to embrace change and to actively seek opportunities to develop, but I realised I could do this in a more supportive way after attending Lynley’s talk.

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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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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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