Category Archives: LIANZA issues

Reflection from LIANZA13 Day 4

The last day of a conference is always interesting – how may people have gone home? How many people are still to wake up after the conference dinner fun the night before? How many people are here and mainlining coffee?

The first keynote was Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith from Waikato University. There was so much in her presentation that resonated with what I’m interested in.

  • Maori staff (often) come into organisations with their iwi and hapu identities.  For those staff, it’s a responsibility to serve the bigger community – to serve the language, serve the culture. Therefore they are often looked to as exponents of the Maori language and tikanga. This can be part of a hidden workload – service to the organisation in powhiri, karakia, waiata, poroporoake, tangihanga etc.
  • Many of our institutions try to absorb Maori into existing structures. The challenge for institutions is to engage with difference on the inside (of people), to recognise and reward (not punish) for the hidden workload.
  • For institutions that want to build Maori capacity – build a long term agenda and commitment to build transformation within. Requires leadership. There is implicit knowledge that’s at work in those environments so share the values of the organisation and the people in it. Build structures for discussion – talk about the issue, then address it if reasonable. Institutional culture change can occur within a very small unit of staff. Institutions must see this as a learning journey. Figure it out together. Needs leadership which doesn’t go into panic mode when there’s a minor crisis.
  • Don’t put the pressure on one Maori to carry the whole Maori world and the Pakeha world at the same time. Individuals are individuals.
  • The more that Maori shape our future, the more we can determine it. Our aspirations are to engage in positive ways.

This is one of her aims for her life.

  • Live a life that builds something so that other people don’t have to fight society – try and make society better.

I like it. I think Libraries can be great contributors to that idea.

Professor Smith also showed me some of the things to do/watch out for as I go into discussions with LIANZA and Te Ropu Whakahau about focusing the kaupapa of LIANZA so we can be in the future with a uniquely NZ point of view. I appreciate (and am pleased by) the attitudes of people who I have already talked to, and their willingness to engage with the question.

Also speaking on Day 4 was Nat Torkington. He’s one of my favourite speakers – always entertaining, very smart and sharp on learning and information ideas. (Plus he’s not afraid to be a bit sweary.)

  • When you see people who are doing things with tech, or their services “you don’t become like them by buying the artifacts. [there is] an ocean of possible artifacts and toys.“ What we don’t see is the pedagogy behind it which is how to understand how and why it’s being used. Laptops aren’t the answer. “The transformative power if that stuff is sweet fuck all, unless you change the thinking and attitudes of the teachers and students. Otherwise you only have a classroom with Macs in it.
  • To see something that you don’t understand and see it as a threat, that’s deadly.
  • Teaching as inquiry – Hypothesis > Evidence> Research > Action > Evidence > Reflection > Hypothesis (repeat). This is a good model for a way to embrace learning for (and about) the future. (One school used an open Google doc for staff which included – this is the thing I’m doing, this is what I’ve learned. Public sharing of the individual learning which validates learning and experimentation. Staff only had to pick one thing to work on at a time.)
  • Don’t make the mistake of doing the futuring TO something, do it WITH someone.

I haven’t been to a full LIANZA conference for a few years (small library, small staff) and this conference has convinced me more than ever of the importance of attending the full event. There are themes outside of the official conference theme which rise during the four days. There are so many people to continue building relationships with that it can’t all be done in a day or two days.

I’m finishing this reflection with something that Nat said. On the day I was so entertained by his presentation that I missed the care for learning, libraries, and librarians that permeated his words. I think this is simultaneously a challenge, and a hope for the future.

You can make your own damn future.

Open document with the notes from LIANZA13 Day 4. Please add your own notes!

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Reflection from LIANZA13 Day 3

Phew! What a day. I’ve made these notes in the 20 minutes before the Conference Dinner.

  • Presenters are really building on each other’s words. deliberately picking up the themes I’ve already written about and reinforcing them with their own take on it. Weaving together the things they’ve heard (especially the keynotes), making new meaning from it. The human/people element really came to the fore today. Generosity, reciprocity, be nice to each other.
  • Lots of change management projects taking the same process of dialogue and discussion with the teams to discover many of the same things. Still vital as it’s the people in the organisation who are in the change – helps to feel empowered to make the changes.
  • Changes in academic libraries – Experience at BOP very similar to what mine will be (hopefully) similar kaupapa for the organisation. Have got lots of ideas about how to frame the discussion at my kura, some ideas about what I could put forward as the new role for the library.
  • “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. There’s a reason the change is happening.” Good final presentation words from Will & Christine from VicUni.
  • Take control of your own learning. Embrace your failures – may not have worked for you but it might work for me!
  • Expanding on the idea of LIANZA approaching the future from a uniquely NZ context – using Te Ao Maori as a basis for tikanga, kaupapa, and kawa for the association. Had a quick chat with someone who might be able to help – great opportunity for Te Ropu Whakahau and LIANZA to collaborate. I have an idea about how to bring a Maori worldview into your organisation by approaching other people in the organisation who are curious about Maori concepts – not worrying if you can’t reach your managers. Build a movement around yourself and the people who are interested as a start. Learning te reo really important – matauranga Maori course valued by participants. build networks and kawa in your own organisation.
  • Really noticed the manaakitanga of the Claudelands events team. Quick change of the rooms – efficient, sound like they’re having a laugh while they’re doing it. Invisible and efficient wait staff, visible reception team. Thanks crews!

Open document with the notes from LIANZA13 Day 3. Please add your own notes!


Reflection from LIANZA13 Day 2

Good grief! Just had my mind blown by our final keynote for the day – Eli Neiburger. He was talking about the way his library, Ann Arbor, is diversifying the library experience for their community and citizens, and therefore diversifying the value. The activities themselves are exciting, but more than that it is the way that they are thinking about their services. (On a smaller scale, Matt is writing about the activities he’s been doing in Parkes in the Finding Library Futures series. Same philosophy – to steal a phrase from Matt – “that imaginative play is also the business of libraries.“)  This is something that I’d love to see public libraries really taking up and implementing (and them telling everyone about it.)Prior to Eli, I was pleased to see that the themes of Context, Local, and Collaboration, were a continuing thread through the presentations. Some new ones of Prototype/Test, Play are also emerging. What’s also exciting is what I’m calling next layer thinking – we’re getting beyond the objects/basic service and starting to dream and think about what could be done next. To think about value rather than fiscal return.

Actually, too many ideas whizzing around my head from Eli’s talk to really reflect on the rest of the day today. Off to the tweetup with the other twitterarti (not tweetsexuals, thanks DJ) to maybe do a bit of discussion and unpacking.

All my notes are available in this document. (If you’re at conference and have things to add, please do so!)


Reflection from LIANZA13 Day 1

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.

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Unpacking the process

I’m on my second LIANZA revalidation round. One of the things I really appreciate about going through the process is that it forces me to look at what I’ve been doing over the previous three years. The first time I did it, I was regularly blogging about what I was doing. I’d looked at the BOK areas, and had picked out the areas I needed to concentrate on. I worked strategically across the three years and all the BOKs. I ended up with more activites in the areas that I was concentrating on. Not surprising – my focus was on those areas in the fear that I might not get to anything, so I ended up going to everything!

This time round I have been much less strategic about the activites I’ve been going to. I haven’t been blogging as much so consequently I don’t have as many ‘pre-canned lessons learned’ paragraphs. I’ve changed jobs to something that is much more operational than strategic, so a lot of my focus has been on refining the operational tasks that we do. As a consequence of this, although I have the all the BOK areas covered, the things that I want to include are often the same thing (e.g. orientation for students) once every year. I think this demonstrates my ongoing learning and refinement, but it’s not really appropriate for the specific requirements of revalidation.

There are other activities that I’ve been doing that a very relevant to my role in the organisation. Some have been over almost two years (te reo classes) while others have been over a couple of months (working in groups). I’ve also been going to a regular breakfast meeting with a group of peers (known as #WellyLibBfast). I wanted to set up something that was informal, not associated with LIANZA, where the people who were interested in the same things I was interested in, could meet and chat over food. It’s been a very interesting experience having that as an ongoing practice.

Since I wasn’t as organised as last time, this has been my process for this revalidation round.

  • List all the activities for each of the three years.
  • Assign a BOK to each one.
  • Sort by Year, by BOK.
  • Assess the three years. Aim for the required coverage for revalidation.
  • Select the ‘best’ activities for each year.
  • Write the document.

I am a compulsive note-taker so I have notes from each activity. What I’m struggling with is keeping it to a snapshot of what I learned then, at the time of the activity. The way I work is to draw strands from many different areas then combine them into something new. This means that I’m constantly mulling things over as new information is added. Therefore I’m finding it a bit tricky to stall my thinking at the time of the activity.

This teaches me that I need to work strategically over the next three years for revalidation. In fact, you may have noticed that I’m blogging more. Again. I’m also trying to blog during the process (see the projected 6 steps to redesign orientation) even if the writing is rough. ‘Think, then test, then refine, then test’ is a process that is being worked with the students at the kura and one which I’m planning to adhere to more. I’ve also been influenced by this article on keeping a diary. I’m not interested in going back and keeping a daily diary (yet) but it’s reminded me to blog more.

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Te Ūpoko o te Ika a Māui AGM 2013

The Wellington regional group of LIANZA held a breakfast AGM on 14 August 2013. The speaker this year was Moata Tamaira. I’ve known Moata online for a few years so was really surprised when she pointed out that we’ve only met a few times kanohi ki te kanohi. “Surely not!” I said. On reflection she was correct. We have met at a few conferences, and seen each other maybe a couple of times when I was down in Christchurch. I guess we feel like we know each other because we read each others blogs (well, I read hers) and we chat on Twitter.

Librarians, here’s what she had to say:

  • NZ-libs is not the be-all and end-all of communication. Encompass more communication channels.
  • Put things on the internet. Go digital by default, not as an afterthought. “I live on the web, I expect everything to be on the web. What I want is ‘See this link for more information’. Make it easy for me to share things.
  • Signage! Lot of negative signage around the place. Gives people the impression they’re not wanted. [Here she referenced a tweet I’d made “Avoid wordprocessing and laminating your anger” which was from the Fi Emberton presentation at LIANZA 2010. #CitationAchieved]
  • Advocating for libraries. ““Libraries are relevant” – that’s like the lowest possible bar we could set for ourselves. It’s like saying we’re really adequate. Universities don’t have libraries because they think they’re relevant, they have the because they NEED them. They’re essential.
  • Go forth and be awesome.

I really liked her comments about advocating for library service. The library I work at has external subscribers so her comments about putting things on the internet also gave me something to think about. (Most of our stuff does go on the website but I’m pretty sure we could do better.) Now I need to work out how to make it so other people can demonstrate our essential-ness for us…


Thanks to Moata for the inspiration, and the Te Ūpoko o te Ika a Māui Committee for organising the breakfast.