Elevate!

Rachael Rivera in Library Journal's Movers and Shakers 2018 awards

Last year, I was invited to give a keynote speech at Aotearoa/New Zealand’s national library conference, LIANZA 2017.

I wanted to realise a long-held dream and present a collective keynote with a number of Australian & New Zealand colleagues sharing the stage, but it wasn’t practical for LIANZA to fly a whole group of us across the Tasman Sea.

(They did, however, kindly accede to one request and arrange a special funded session on Indigenous Knowledge Centres, led by my brilliant Queensland colleague Lesley Acres).

In the end, we contrived a way to deliver a unique collective keynote – by taping my mouth shut and inviting members of the audience on stage in an hour-long series of creative, constructive, collaborative activities.

For me, the highlight came at the end of the keynote session, when two special guests materialised.

We had arranged for Auckland Libraries’ Rachael Rivera & Hamish Noonan to attend the conference in secret, taking the stage to conclude our keynote.

Rachael’s concluding comments triggered a debate about libraries and homelessness on national media in New Zealand, and gave both Rachael and her Kiwi colleagues the opportunity to stand up for library values, articulating their commitment to equity, justice, and access to the world of knowledge and culture for all.

In October, US librarian Justin Hoenke approached me to co-nominate Rachael for the American Library Journal‘s annual Movers & Shakers Award, highlighting professionals who have done exceptional work in libraries around the world.

Today, Rachael was announced as a winner of the 2018 Movers & Shakers Award and her friends & supporters worldwide are justifiably celebrating. From her days back in suburban Auckland to current international glory, including her own individual library keynote in Edinburgh,  Rachael is one of the greatest heroes of public librarianship in 2018.

Voices like hers deserve to be elevated. Look her up. Learn from her. Change the world for the better.

Read more about Rachael’s Movers & Shakers nomination at Justin Hoenke’s website.

LIANZA #Open2017 – Future Sound of Libraries / B-sides and rarities

This is the final part of a series on the LIANZA #Open17 library conference.

So you’ve seen how we planned a keynote where the main speaker keeps their mouth taped shut for nigh-on an hour. Seen what happened over the course of that hour. And even seen the consequences of the event.

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.

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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

LIANZA #Open2017 – Future Sound of Libraries / The Process, pt. 3

This is part three of a series on the LIANZA #Open17 library conference, and my alternative keynote at that event. These blog posts should help you find ways to create your own participatory sessions, and to maximise their impact.

Last time, we went through everything that happened at the LIANZA Open 17 keynote, culminating in Rachael Rivera and Hamish Noonan’s excellent presentation on the services they have devised and delivered for homeless people in central Auckland. (You can read about their stupendous and internationally recognised work here).

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.

What happened next? How did this little library conference end up making national news in New Zealand? Read more

LIANZA #Open2017 – Future Sound of Libraries / The Process, pt. 2

This is part two of a series on the LIANZA #Open17 library conference, and my alternative keynote at that event. These blog posts should help you find ways to create your own participatory sessions, and you can see even more bright ideas over at the Beyond Panels website.

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You can also watch a Youtube Playlist based on the LIANZA keynote here.

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

LIANZA #Open2017 – Future Sound of Libraries / The Process

This is part one of a three-part series on the LIANZA #Open17 library conference.

In August last year, the organisers of LIANZA Open 2017 invited me to be a keynote at their conference, the national gathering for the librarians of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Last week, it all happened – an incredible adventure which brought the audience onto the stage, delivered a library service within the keynote hall itself, and got us coverage on New Zealand’s national news.

So what exactly took place over in the city of Christchurch, how did we get here, and what can we do with the experience? If I share with you not only the product, but the process, could you see your way to trying something like this…or even going beyond what we achieved in New Zealand?

Read more

LIANZA Conference 2017

I’m just leaving Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand, after a fabulous few days with Kiwi librarians at their national conference LIANZA 2017.

There were workshops and a participatory, playful keynote, and other adventures besides. That keynote also made the national news.

More on all those things soon but for now, here’s a video with one or two highlights.

 

Surfing to Salford: @Mozlandia and The Long Fetch

“We look to Los Angeles
For the language we use
London is dead, London is dead…”

I never really listened to a lot of Morrissey, thinking about it. I mean, I had a bit of a Smiths phase at university and I put ‘Last of the International Playboys‘ on the mixtape for a stag do once — that’s about it.

Then Ziba Zehdar-Gazdecki, a cool librarian from Los Angeles, shared photos from a book event on social media.

Mozlandia? I had to find out more.

Read more

Finding Library Futures, 5: “I Was Elected To Lead, Not To Read” – Thoughts On Library Leadership

Part 5 in my series on Finding Library Futures.

In my travels, I’ve met some incredible and inspiring library leaders. Managers and specialists delivering incredible stuff: people like Hamish Curry, the Melbournian library superhero who gets kids making Ned Kelly armour in his library, or Adrienne Hannan in the New Zealand capital Wellington, a children’s and youth specialist whose role outside traditional management structures gives her freedom and flexibility to innovate. But sometimes libraries’ own bureaucracy impedes them: sometimes, even when the media, local communities, and local politicians, too, are supporting libraries’ attempts to be audacious, internal process can be an obstacle. So – here’s three thoughts on a style of leadership which will let libraries be the sword-hand of literacy and the major cultural player they so clearly ought to be in the new Information Age.

1. Library leaders need to be librarians.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not talking my role out of existence – outsiders to library service have a value in stirring the pot, bringing in new ideas, cross-pollinating between librarianship, education, theatre, creative writing, marketing, etc – but I truly believe that the people at the head of a library organisation need to have walked the floor, stacked the shelves, held their own on a desk shift, and put contact plastic on a few books in their time. Read more