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.