Recently I had the opportunity at work to attend a course on character strengths run by the Mental Health Education Resource Centre. It’s great that these opportunities for healthcare professional development are being opened up to librarians. Last year I went to one of their courses on grief. This was an incredibly valuable session where I learnt a lot; one thing that stood out to me was that we don’t just grieve for people, we also grieve for places and things, particularly in times of change. Sometimes these aspects are inextricably linked.
Because I work in the centre of Christchurch, I am surrounded by sites of memory and sites of mourning. Read more →
This is the last post in this series setting out our process, so you can think about how to run such an activity, and push the boundaries even further than we did.
In this entry I’m just going to focus on all the stuff which remained below the waterline – songs which didn’t make it to the final session, videos which inspired us but whose inspiration might not be very visible in the finished product. Read more →
I had approached Rachael to conclude the keynote so that it ended with a local voice and a speaker who was delivering practical front-line services to a New Zealand community. Rachael is a great example of a library branch manager whose teams are finding new and compelling ways to engage their community, from services for the homeless through to personalised one-to-one music sessions.
So great to hear from @MCrtt talking about offering services for the homeless community in libraries. Excellent work! #open17
So, it’s the afternoon of Sunday 24th September, 2017, at the Addington Raceway in Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand. Laurinda Thomas has just given an excellent talk about librarians’ professional identity and I’m invited to the stage.
I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and say a few words in te reo Māori.
Then this appears on the conference screens: Read more →
Librarians old and new joined forces to explore their work with communities in new, messy, and productive ways.
Going beyond the vogue for design thinking, the safe, fictional space of “Library Island” allowed us to engage with knotty questions of office politics, limited resources, managerial edicts, and library users who are sometimes airbrushed out of “future visions” – such as homeless people or those whose behaviour might be challenging to staff. Read more →
In 2010 and 2011, the city of Christchurch faced the most severe natural disasters in the history of New Zealand / Aotearoa. The librarians of “ChCh” responded to the crisis with flexibility, courage, and innovation.
I wrote about the Christchurch quakes and the response of Kiwi librarians for CILIP Update, the in-house journal of the UK librarians’ association, CILIP.
I’ve done a fair bit of work with libraries over the last few years. Most of it has involved encouraging play of all kinds. I had previously worked with schools and other organisations, but I became convinced of public libraries’ importance after visiting Christchurch in the wake of the 2010 earthquakes. Carolyn Robertson and her team showed, through their actions in that period, that libraries were never more important than in times of grave crisis. When I think about librarianship as a heroic vocation, I think of people like Carolyn, and Penny Carnaby of the National Library of New Zealand, who did their profession proud in a difficult moment.
The following key missions which relate to information, literacy, education and culture should be at the core of public library services:
creating and strengthening reading habits in children at an early age;
supporting both individual and self conducted education as well as formal education at all levels;
providing opportunities for personal creative development;
stimulating the imagination and creativity of children and young people;
promoting awareness of cultural heritage, appreciation of the arts,
scientific achievements and innovations;
providing access to cultural expressions of all performing arts;
fostering inter-cultural dialogue and favouring cultural diversity;
supporting the oral tradition;
ensuring access for citizens to all sorts of community information;
providing adequate information services to local enterprises, associations and interest groups;
facilitating the development of information and computer literacy skills;
supporting and participating in literacy activities and programmes for all age groups, and initiating such activities if necessary.
I think this is an incredibly strong mandate which gives librarians clear freedom to engage in all kinds of play, performance, technological and cultural activity. The missions have been around for twenty years, and yet so many library conferences and professional discussions still revolve around debating what libraries should or should not be doing in the 21st century; so many public discussions about libraries reveal that people still think of them largely as “shelfy”, book-storing institutions.
Part of my eclectic scholarly career was spent as an intellectual historian, so these are the questions that occur to me:
What happened in librarianship in the 1980s/1990s to lay the ground for such a radical, positive, and future-proofed global mission statement?
Why didn’t the missions gain more traction?
What lessons could we learn for today from the history of these missions, and the process that led to their writing?