Firstly, I want to thank LIANZA for the opportunity and the sponsorship which enabled me to attend my first LIANZA Conference.
Wow – LIANZA – so much more than I expected, so much more than a conference.
This was my first LIANZA conference and it felt quite amazing to be part of such a big event; to be at a conference where so many like-minded people met from all across the industry, with a passion and enthusiasm for libraries and the people they serve.
I have definitely gained a new appreciation of how large our organization is and how many amazing, educated and qualified people work in it.
‘Open’ was a perfect theme for me – it opened my mind to new people, new ideas and new enthusiasm to take back to my job at my library and to share with my colleagues.
Along with the ‘open’ theme, two other themes really stood out for me and kept recurring as I went to hear speakers either at panels, papers or workshop presentations; or the keynote speakers. These were the themes of ‘perspective’ and ‘people’.
I’m going to focus a bit on the keynote speakers as I found they were all of a very high caliber, engaging and interesting and I enjoyed their presentations immensely.
Laurinda Thomas reminded us that libraries are changing constantly and quickly. Can we keep up? Our key focus has been and should be people and meeting their needs, but also that what we do right now is just as important as what we do in the future. What we think we are here for and why largely dictates our collections, spaces, services and skills. But we also need to remember who we are here for, their experiences at the library and their needs.
So in thinking about the future, perhaps our question should not be ‘are we relevant?’, but ‘how are we customer focused and information driven?’
We need to have clear and intentional attitudes and appreciate that we know our clients and provide a service for free.
But also, we need to have conversations with people who don’t come to the library, or haven’t come for 10 years … and how do we get them to come?
We need to make our story make sense to the person receiving it – be visible, be intentional, be impossible to be ignored!
My favourite quote from Laurinda was “Libraries are a promise to society about what we value”.
Matt Finch was one of those speakers who could not be ignored! Engaging and refreshing; he demonstrated the power of communicating visually, and encouraged us to think outside the square with the way we do or we could deliver services. He talked about libraries as a social equalizer.
Favourite quote: “Let clients help to shape our libraries”.
It would not be a surprise to learn that Vinh Giang was one of my favourite speakers! His entertaining presentation very much emphasized having a new perspective. Perspective …. such a necessary attribute and yet easily lost in the everyday if we don’t take a step back and re-analyse things. For me this meant: why and how are we doing things? What can we do/deliver better?
His presentation was clever, funny and entertaining, but was more than that, it was refreshing and thought provoking. We have to be careful we see what is there, not just what we want to see, and learn to look at things in a different way. Don’t get ‘change blindness’. And maybe if we can’t move forward; if we think it’s impossible, get someone else’s perspective. Understand who influences you and collaborate with others.
Hana O’Regan gave us an amazing heartfelt story of her journey about finding out where she was and where she came from – an intrinsic part of herself, and how she wanted to preserve that and pass it down strongly to her own children. She stated that what we do in this generation affects the next generation, and to think intergenerationally. We all have our own story.
Our foundation (kai hear a taku whare koreno) and values define our past and shape our future – ‘how can libraries encourage people to access their own whare?’
Paul Stacey was very informative and clearly had a passion for the future of commons. Commons was something fairly new to me, so it was interesting to learn about this initiative and how it works.
Paul enlightened us as to what commons is, the huge resource it is and its purpose of long-term stewardship, sharing and growing of resources – to retain, re-use, revise, remix and/or redistribute material.
Commons is driven by social good and human connection, independent of the state and market. To add value, give more than take; develop trust, to not exploit and to use transparency.
A great repository for many things and something to watch in the future I feel.
Takerei Norton from Ngai Tahu took us on an amazing journey of the story behind the beginnings and evolvement of the Ngai Tahu cultural mapping project.
A project not just to research and map place names – but to recognize and record the value of and story behind those names – a rich history and heritage now being preserved. It included an initiative to lobby the government for protection and preservation of some of these places, and to formally recognize their cultural significance. I found this inspiring and very exciting, a feeling that this is part of my heritage too, and I very much look forward to the official launch and further growth of this website.
Donna Lanclos also gave a very interesting presentation on what anthropology means to us today – the power of stories – who controls them, who changes them. She presented anthropology as an interrogation of human practice in order to value it, not to control it. In relation to libraries she talked about an emphasis on understating people in order to connect with them and not control them.
New Zealand has a colonial past and this was discussed in terms of the library being a colonizing structure. Her suggestion is that we move away from ‘colonization’ and reframe our systems using syncretism instead of solutionism. We should be taught by our users what we can do for them.
And by following a decolonization process, the library becomes indelibly of the community, and the people.
All the speakers were very interesting and I was very impressed with them.
Two speakers who especially touched me were Matt Finch and Vinh Giang, with their humility in acknowledging that who they were was related to where they came from – Vinh Giang stating “when you eat the fruit, remember who planted the tree’ and Matt Finch’s tribute to his friend who had passed away. But this thread also seemed to run through other presentations as well.
A good reminder to us all that we are the sum of our experience but also that experiences teach us to become better people.
How can we use this to enhance our job skills, our attitudes, our ambition – and indeed – how we relate to our library users?
I came away from conference reminded of a great quote “keep the main thing the main thing” – for me this means our users. It’s about them, not us. Let them shape our libraries; our key focus is people and we should be taught by users what we can do for them, meeting them at their point of need, not my point of willingness to help – they are our reason for being here and for all the services we provide. We need to keep having a fresh perspective and be driven by social good and human connection. This for me was a major theme running through conference.
In conclusion, Lianza for me was a great meeting of minds, of shared ideas, co-operation and collaboration. We have a common bond and by sharing our experiences, knowledge, stories and ideas we become more focused, stronger and more confident going forward.
p.s. Thanks for such and entertaining MC, and the catering was awesome!