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 groups at opposite ends of a given concept.
- 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 <140 statement yet but I’m working on it.)
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.
On a closer-to-home note, her keynote has given me some ideas about how to frame the changing position of the library (I work in) to the kura. The people who are not in the library are very focused on a library that provides access to resources which I feel is a very limited view of what the library could be in the school. It could be a place of turning information into knowledge, a still place (as Brendan described it) while at the same time still being exciting (in terms of learning) which is what I want it to be.
Obviously this all needs much more work. I hope that the next few days continue to change my perspective on libraries in New Zealand.