Guest Post: Hamish Lindop – Buying Library Users A Birthday Present

Today’s guest post comes from Hamish Lindop, who is Reference Librarian-Learning Services at Auckland Libraries, but has also turned his hand to numerous special projects in the city this year – from street promotion for our Dark Night festival to behind the scenes work on our 2013 Children’s and Youth Service conference, “the hui of awesome awesomeness”.

Auckland Libaries Youth Hui

The hui was a huge success, bringing together librarians from across New Zealand and Australia for panel discussions, hands-on Nerf-gunning workshops, and a teen space which attendees could visit to experience youth librarianship in action. You can follow the discussions via the Storify page created by Auckland’s own social media maven Tosca Waerea.

One of the biggest tensions I sensed at the hui was between the need for librarians to be courageous and creative, and the tendency of managers to struggle as they balanced this creativity with the demands of administration and the bigger picture of the libraries’¬†business plan. It’s very hard to not take bureaucracy personally when one is also being directed to be passionate and innovative…

Hamish has done some work reconciling these challenges with a wonderful common-sense analogy: buying our communities a birthday present.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how a public library can deliver the best value to the community that it sits in. The answer that I have come up with is this: we can get the community a birthday present. This is my favourite analogy for how to synthesize listening to your community, and innovating to surprise and delight them.

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