The end of all great things? – a guest post from Sarah McCallum

And so we head to the close of 2018 – this will be the last blog posted on this site for Aoraki LIANZA and it’s my privilege to be the final post. Great things don’t end – they reinvent themselves. Aoraki will still be in touch via LIANZA Kōrero: Library Life

As I write this, it’s just 28 days to Christmas. As always at this time of year I start to reflect on how things have gone. Did I do all I thought I would, achieve all i thought I might, make all the right decisions to the best I could?

2018 has been a big year, not least for completing my LIANZA Kōtuku Emerging Leaders journey.


I say completing but a leadership journey is just that, a journey. One of the biggest outcomes of doing the course was learning that you never stop learning how to be a leader. In fact, continually learning, keeping an open mind, and being open to feedback and new ways of doing things is being a good leader. I just checked out a good book from the LIANZA EBL ebook collection called “The Leadership Challenge Workbook” and was struck by how this statement resonated

“The best leaders are continually learning. They see all experiences as learning opportunites. But there’s one condition. Rich insights only come from reflection and analysis. Unexamined experiences yield no lessons. If you want to become a better leader, you need to study your performance and become more conscious about the choices that you are making and how you are acting on your intentions”.

John Dewey Quote.png

I thought I would just do a course and be all set for life. Tick that box! And I am set, just maybe not how I thought. This isn’t a box that can be ticked just once – this one can get ticked every time you reflect. Measure how you’re doing. Think about your own expectations of good leadership. Reflect, respond, learn and move forward.

So, to reflect on my year:

First, I want to apologise to my Kōtuku mentor for not making the most of her time and energy as I could have. A mentoring relationship will always be something where you get out what you put in, and I have struggled to learn this. I hope to cross paths with her again soon.

Some parts of the course went well, and others not so much. I got the most out of learning about myself and could have done better with the group project. I can see that networking and relationships are things that don’t come naturally to me and will be something I’ll always work on.

I have gained a confidence that I’m on the right path. This year has been the culmination of a lot of hard work. I’ve completed my BappSci in library and information studies. Nine long years of plodding away one paper at a time. I’ve been appointed as Associate Team Leader of a fantastic little suburban library. And I have started to become more involved with my Professional Organisation (LIANZA). I had no idea at the start of the year I would be contributing blog posts for Aoraki LIANZA.

I keep thinking next year will be a time for consolidation. You know, when you don’t do a whole lot of new things but spend time really embedding what you have learnt so far. As I reflect, though, I see so many other years where I’ve planned the same and have always ended up taking on something else. Considering that I’ve just the other day submitted an application for professional registration I think I’ve already set myself up for another year of learning, reflecting, understanding and growth. Or here’s hoping!

Happy Holidays to you all. See you in 2019.


Kōtuku Emerging Leader Programme – “Getting ticked off” – a guest post from Sarah McCallum

It’s the halfway mark! And I’m glad to see it. Kotuku has been an amazing journey so far but I’m right in the middle of a professional low and my motivation is as bright as a cloudy winters day.

I am loving the course content, it’s stimulating and thought provoking. I’m just feeling the weight of all the things I’ve taken on lately. Have you ever been so excited by a new role or a new opportunity that you’ve found yourself saying yes to everything? I do this a lot, and my enthusiasm gets me in strife.

First then, is to reflect on my goals that I set during Kotuku bootcamp, back when this all started, and even then my focus was productivity and how to get organised. On this reflection, the only goal I thought I had achieved was to buy a new handbag. Scoff you might, but it’s a serious tool for getting yourself organised. My last bag could barely hold my wallet and it’s hugely helpful having a notebook in there too. Got to keep that to do list up to date.

Then I noticed one or two more that I could tick off. And it started feeling better. It also helped to speak candidly to friends and colleagues. And, of course, knowing that my cohort was there to support me, commiserate with me, celebrate with me and share in my journey as much, or as little as I needed it.

Getting organised is an almost mythical thing for me. What does it look like? How does it feel? To be so on top of things that everything feels under control. I’ve tried a few strategies – kept lists, Trello, asked others what they do. But my greatest learning has been in really looking at who I am, through doing Kōtuku, understanding my inert aversion to deadlines – while also accepting that without them, I’d never get anything done.

That’s right, I’m a procrastinator.

And the best thing I ever did was read this book: The Art of Procrastination; a guide to effective dawdling, lollygagging, and postponing. It’s small (92 pages ; 19cm) so easily read in one sitting – I need my self-help fast before I get sidetracked. Thanks to this book (and associated tips from Rachel Arden) I know that if “Learning Norwegian” is always at the top of my list – I can easily achieve all the others. It’s a remarkably effective strategy.

Reflecting on my goals reminded why I’m doing Kotuku. Because I want to be better, I want to be more organised, and I want to be a passionate advocate for my profession and be able to lead and inspire others to go out and extend themselves.

But right now, I’m keeping it simple. I get overwhelmed by my to-do list, I think we all do sometimes. When it all feels too much, I just choose one thing. Just one, whatever size, and I tick it off. Like this blog post. TICK.

Getting organised is a journey, you don’t know you’re doing it right until you’re doing it, you’ll always worry that you could be better and people will have loads of advice for you. What works for others won’t always work for you – so who are you and how do you get things done?

Check out the article in the latest Library Life – page 34 “A Kotuku Column” for a great summary of the course so far from another member of my group.

Aoraki LIANZA Talks and Technology + AGM

Aoraki LIANZA invites all our members & those interested in LIANZA to an evening of Talks and Technology followed by AGM

Tuesday 11th September 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Sydenham Room, South Library, 66 Colombo Street

5.30 – 6:15 pm: Tech Taster – play with new technology before the meeting starts
5.30 – 6:15 pm: Finger food available
6:15 pm: Welcome
6:20 pm: Paula Eskett – LIANZA President
6:40 pm: Rob Cruickshank (Programme Specialist at Christchurch City Libraries) – Technology in the Library
7:00 pm: Chris Hay – Manager Tūranga Central Library (Christchurch City Libraries)       
7:30- 8:00 pm: 
Annual General Meeting (Agenda, previous minutes, Chair and Regional Reps reports will be emailed before the meeting)

RSVP for catering and AGM apologies by Friday 31 August.

Save the date – Aoraki LIANZA AGM

Kia ora koutou,

A save the date announcement.

We’ll be having our AGM on the evening of Tuesday 11th September in the Sydenham Room at South Christchurch Library / Te Kete Wānanga o Wai Mōkihi – 66 Colombo Street (corner Hunter Terrace and Colombo Street).

Watch this space for exciting AGM related reveals…

Project: Migration – Claire Brocklehurst, Library, Ara Institute of Canterbury

On February 15, 2018, Ara Institute of Canterbury Library went live with a new Library management system: Alma from Ex Libris.

Alma Cake

The Alma Cake

This was the culmination of a project that was simultaneously too long and far too short! We had been looking at replacing our old system, Voyager, for many years, but the timing had never been right. Suddenly, in the middle of 2017, the stars aligned, and it was all go.

This was a huge undertaking for our small team: only about 10 FTE staff, with limited technical expertise. We had about six months for the whole project, with the go-live date being set for the first week of the academic year (we are still not sure who made that decision: they were not popular).

Alma had the advantage for us that it brought a number of other systems under one umbrella. It includes usage statistics for electronic resources, a link resolver, and analytics. While this does make it a large beast, it is nice to have one interface, with one login, that does just about everything. It also had the advantage of saving us money in the long term.

We were able to clear up many of those little mysteries that gather in any library system: locations and item types that are no longer used but cannot be deleted, orders that were never completed… We chose not to migrate any of our acquisitions data: on the plus side, we could delete vendors that went out of business many years ago, but we also had to recreate all our subscription orders. We took the opportunity to make some changes to the way our collection is organised and to simplify all our circulation policies (a bit).

For training, we adopted a self-directed approach. Three staff completed the full Ex LIBRIS training programme, and then helped other staff get started using our sandpit. As we are a small team, all sitting in the same room, this worked well – people could work on it when it suited them, and could get help at any time. By the time we went live, we all had a relatively good idea of how circulation worked at least – the less said about anything else, the better…

The hardest part, as you would expect, was getting Alma to work with our external systems. Our IT department worked incredibly hard to get Alma to talk to our student management system (to get our patron records), to integrate with our self-check machines, and to implement single sign on using our identity management system.

There is a very active international community of Ex Libris users out there, and we were able to ask for help about a variety of things and get answers from all over the world – everywhere from Lincoln (thanks Deborah and Craig!) to Washington State. Librarians do like to communicate, to share knowledge, and to help out where they can. Since we have been live I have been able to answer a couple of questions, and it felt really good to be able to participate in the discussion.

Now we are several months in, and it is going quite well. We are still in discussions with OCLC about exporting our holdings to World Cat, and I have a whiteboard with an ever-increasing list of things to look at, but we are happy. Changes to our collection are immediately visible in our catalogue (no more waiting for the pipe to run). Overdue and other notices run automatically when needed, not just once a day when we press a button. If something goes wrong, we have one point of call, not three. In addition and best of all, we have a much better understanding of how our system works.

Looking back, I honestly cannot quite believe we actually pulled it off. It was touch-and-go for a while in January, but then things started to fall into place, and it all worked out in the end. I think we can all be quite proud of ourselves: the Little Library That Could.

The Alma project team and library staff about to sample the cake sent by Ex Libris

The Alma project team and library staff about to sample the cake sent by Ex Libris


Kōtuku Emerging Leader Programme – a guest post from Sarah McCallum

Sarah McCallum

Sarah McCallum

I’m excited to be a part of Kōtuku 2018. I’ve identified that I want to achieve success and strive to be my best self, and to help others to do so as well. I have been working in libraries for 9 years now and felt ready to step up to a leadership position and really make use of my experience and qualifications to support staff delivering library services. Kōtuku is the ideal support and learning model for my goal, covering a broad range of leadership topics with the added bonus of GLAM sector networking.

I want to be in a position to influence and challenge decisions made about how we do things and what we are doing here at Christchurch City Libraries. After putting in my application to join Kōtuku, I was appointed to Associate Team Leader at Parklands Library, quite timely but very indicative of where I want to be heading!

Completing this programme is going to look fantastic on my CV, I can’t lie, but also, I wanted to build my network and connections outside of Christchurch City Libraries and really get a feel for where leadership can take me. While I love my colleagues and the relationships I have with other Christchurch Libraries people it is always interesting to hear how things are done elsewhere. Kōtuku is the perfect opportunity to network outside of CCL and build long lasting GLAM relationships.

The programme takes place over eight months, kicked off with a “boot camp” in February – two days of learning, networking, and fun.  Now we’ve begun to work through the swathe of leadership topics – a new one each month – meeting together regularly online to hear from sector leaders on each subject. Topics covered include communication, change management, strategic thinking, management skills, decision making, and leadership and followership.

Every day is a learning day. When I do have spare time I like to sew and spend time with my family. My school librarian husband and I have twin teenage boys and a 3 year old girl so life is often busy and the house is full of all kinds of books.


Interview with new Library Manager at Ara Institute

Introducing Dr Kumar Chidambaranathan, the new Library Manager – Library and Information Services at Ara Institute of Canterbury.  Kumaresan_pp

Where are you from?

Kumar is from India and arrived in NZ in November 2017 to take up his new role.

For the last 12 years Kumar has managed libraries in the Middle East.  The last 8 years in Qatar and 4 years before that in Dubai.  Librarians in the Middle East & India are treated like Academic staff and Kumar had the rank of professor in his last job in India. In the Middle East his employment package included a 4 bedroom house to live in, the University paid for his children’s education, medical insurance for family while he was there and flights home to India twice a year. So quite different employment conditions compared to NZ!

Kumar’s wife and family are still in India, but Kumar is looking forward to them moving to Christchurch in May to join him, once his son has finished high school.  His son has enrolled at University of Canterbury.

Why choose NZ?

Kumar has some family in Auckland and had a colleague in Qatar from New Zealand so had some knowledge of the country before he arrived. He has worked with a range of international colleagues for many years so is well used to a multicultural mix.  He was ready for a new challenge and lifestyle.

Is this new role similar to your other roles?

The job is the same, but how you do the job is different. In previous roles Kumar designed and delivered information literacy programmes himself, but here there are other staff that do that. The biggest challenge in the Middle East was to get students to visit the library.  Reading for leisure is also not common in that culture.

Did you experience culture shock coming to NZ?

Not a lot, the main difference is that businesses seem to close down at 5pm here, whereas in other places, most would be open into the early evening. New Zealand is not as multicultural as what he is used to.

What is it like living in the Middle East?

Hot! It is very safe in the countries Kumar lived in with very little crime. There are no direct or indirect taxes levied, which means you can save a lot.  The majority of people living there are ex-pats and the locals are the minority.  Many prestigious Universities have a campus there, so there is lots of competition for student places.  Wealth is obvious everywhere.  Everyone drives big expensive cars and traffic is very busy.


An evening with Ilona Kish

Thank you to Ilona and to all those who attended what was a lovely evening. For all of you weren’t able to be with us this blog is a personal recounting of the evening.

The evening began with a lot of friendly librarians connecting, reconnecting and talking shop. The proceedings began with Joan’s introduction of the committee (listed below), our Councillor Kelsey Johnston and LIANZA President Elect Paula Eskett.

Ilona Kish Meeting and Greeting

Pictured top left – Anne Scott and Carolyn Robertson, pictured top Right Theresa Buller, Kelsey Johnston and Rachel Ardern. Pictured lower row, Ilona Kish, Jan Kotlowski and Jenny Owens.

Your committee members are:

During her intro Joan highlighted:

  • The Professional Weekend Day for librarians which the committee are supporting on Sunday 25th March at the Richmond Public Library
  • The intention of the committee to sponsor someone to attend the Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference 2018 (30 July – 2 August 2018 in the gold coast)
  • The  LIANZA Awards are coming up
  • The committee’s intention to be led by our members – do tell us what professional development you want and how we can serve you best (anyone for validation journal group?)
  • How hungry the editors of LIANZA’s monthly magazine Library Life: Te Rau Herenga O Aotearoa are for your stories. Librarians love stories, share yours with Theresa and Angilo, there’s even an online form!


Ilona took the stage to speak of her current projects as the Director of Public Libraries 2020. She spoke of her key areas of focus:

  • Building positive perceptions and increasing the visibility libraries for policy makers. Sadly many policy makers haven’t set foot in a library for 10-20 years.
  • Help librarians connect internationally – to build on the sensibility that it’s really important to talk to people outside of your back yard, leverage your resources, find and connect with others. Keep a sense of what’s going on in your bigger picture.

Some of the challenges Ilona’s considering are:

  • What will happen to Public Libraries 2020 after Gates Foundation funding ends, they’re spending $150 million over 5 years there is only one of those 5 years remaining.
  • Hope to capture all the learnings of the last 4 years and make sure they’re picked up by the next generation.

Key projects/events she mentioned are:

GENERATION CODE: BORN AT THE LIBRARY 2017 to show Members of European Parliament (MEPs) during EU Code Week that “cutting-edge technology fresh from the EU libraries that will leave you flabbergasted! This year’s theme is “Smart Cities, Smart Citizens, Smart Libraries” – looking at how future technologies are interacting with libraries across Europe” From <>

MEP Library Lovers Group which brings together Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from across the EU and from both sides of the political spectrum who are passionate about libraries. This was really successful advocacy work building great relationships with MEPs.

60 Books for the Summer where the MEP Library Lovers Group “compiled of MEP favourites and reflects the love MEPs share for European culture and cultural diversity, their commitment to social inclusion, and passion for history and literature. More than anything, the list reveals the personal preferences, and even the guilty pleasures MEPs have in common with the people they represent; not only with citizens from their constituency, but with the “European reader” more broadly.” From <>

Matching a MEP with a librarian from their own home town and to get those librarians visiting the European Parliament with their MEP. It’s a great practice and been great for relationship building and for PR.

Ilona Kish

Pictured, Ilona speaking to the audience

Things that really struck me from the part one of Ilona’s talk was:

  • The affirmation that books are important to libraries, let go of the idea that we’re ‘more than books’, as if books were a bad thing, they’re not. Books are our natural home.
  • The three key advocacy messages of: Libraries delivering digital access/inclusion, informal and formal learning and social inclusion.
  • Remember expectation management and sustainability, look for things which are sustainable.
  • Social inclusion is digital these days and you can’t be digitally literate if you’re illiterate. It’s  a cruel double blow for those on the outside.
  • Libraries as disruptors and innovators – we’re not just come and sit in front of a computer. Often we’re the place where people can experience really expensive cutting edge tech for the first time.
  • This is a mindset thing and I quote Ilona directly now – “There’s nothing that can’t happen in my library, if it’s what the community wants and needs.”


The second part of Ilona’s talk shifted in focus to talk about how she gained the experience to move into her current role where she manages the Brussels team, their advisory group and other strategic relationships within the programme.

Ilona got into advocacy by accident, she made the point that advocacy is not normally part of a librarian’s professional development, there’s no framework, it’s piecemeal, haphazard. We need to be:

  • Recruiting and supporting our advocates
  • Getting great at strategic planning
  • Creating media toolkits
  • Getting local politicians into our libraries, if just for an hour (make your pitch to them individualized, make it politically relevant)
  • Having managers need to support the growth of those things
  • Thinking ‘what will my work look like in 5 years?’
  • Targeting social need, know the community and how we can work together
  • Excellent at articulating our value proposition as key enablers to societal outcomes


For all those on Twitter you can follow Ilona at @ilonadkish


Thank you again to Ilona and thank you to all who attended.

Ilona Kish – RSVP required

Where     The function room, Protocol Bar and Restaurant, 2 Colombo Street, Cashmere
Date         Wednesday 7 February 2018
Time         6-8.30 pm
Cash Bar
Please encourage non-members to come along as your guest.

6 pm  Finger food will be available

6.30 pm  The new committee will outline some of the plans for 2018

6.45 pm  Ilona Kish  will speak on her current projects and how she gained the experience to move into the role as Director of the Public Libraries 2020 programme – managing the Brussels team, their advisory group and other strategic relationships within the programme.

The Public Libraries 2020 Programme is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and run by the Reading & Writing Foundation.

Ilona is in Christchurch on 7 Feb to offer a workshop on Advocacy at the University of Canterbury from 9- 3pm on behalf of LIANZA.

An RSVP to a committee member by Friday 2 February would be appreciated for catering and function room booking purposes.


Joan Simpson, Chair
Kelsey Johnstone, Rep on LIANZA Council
Alice Cruickshank, Secretary
Rachel Ardern, Treasurer
Jenny Owens Jenny
Jan Kotlowski
Remy Barbier

We all look forward to catching up with you on 7 February.




Are you thinking about study next year?

Kia ora koutou,

Are you thinking about study next year?  Interested in finding out more about choosing a relevant qualification to future proof your librarian career?

The Open Polytechnic has recently launched a range of new qualifications. The Library and Information Studies (LIS) portfolio has been redesigned in order to align the qualifications with the current focus and future skill requirements of industry. The LIS industries are undergoing a range of paradigm shifts that have direct impact on the provision of tertiary qualifications such as technological developments. It’s a move from the focus on internal processes and collection management to focus on community outreach and engagement, application of international and national standards of practice, new opportunities for facilitating the use of creation of knowledge, increased emphasis on bicultural engagement, combination of physical and digital information resources, organisational and legislative requirements for compliant management of information.

Representatives from the polytechnic will be running two workshops next week to promote the new qualifications plus existing and answer any questions.  The format will be a 15 min presentation, followed by 15 minutes for questions.  There will then be opportunities to have a 1:1 discussion with the presenters if needed.

New qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Library and Information Studies
  • NZ Diploma in Library and Information Studies (Level 5)
  • Graduate Certificate in Library and Information Leadership (Level 7)
  • NZ Certificate in Library and Information Services for Children and Teens (Level 6)
  • NZ Diploma in Records and Information Management (Level 6)

Existing qualifications:

  • Certificate in Literature and Library Services for Children and Young People (Level 6)
  • Diploma in Records and Information Management (Level 6).

The three information sessions will be with Pam Bidwell, Programme Delivery Manager and Jan Irvine, Senior Lecturer – Information and Library Studies:

  • Fendalton Library Boardroom, 4 Jeffreys Road (corner Clyde and Jeffreys Roads), Christchurch – Thursday 9 November, 5.00 – 6.30pm
  • Selwyn District Headquarters, 2 Norman Kirk Drive, Rolleston  – Friday 10 November 8.30 am – 9.30am
  • Sydenham Room, South Library, 66 Colombo Street (corner Hunter Terrace and Colombo Street),
     – Friday 10 November, 12.00 – 1.30pm

Ngā mihi,
Kelsey Johnston
LIANZA Aoraki Regional Councillor