Monday, September 12, 2011

Warm fuzzies

It doesn't take much to keep me motivated in my work and today I was floating on Cloud 9.

One of our regulars is a lovely IHC client who calls me Flossy. She is about 55 and has a mental age of about 8. She loves Fairy books and we keep an eye out for new titles to give her when she comes in.

Today she was waiting outside the library at opening time, and entered beside me as part of the official party for the opening of our Pasifika Festival. After the formalities and the Kava Ceremony and an hour spent making a Samoan flower garland for her hair (with a hot glue gun!) she came and gave me a huge hug and said "Thanks for making our library so lovely".

That why I am a public librarian :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thing 7 : Face to Face Networks and Professional Organisations

This weeks topic is professional organisations and I need to consider my experiences with them. What involvement have I had? How has it affected my career? What have I learned? Why are/aren’t I a member?

I first joined LIANZA when I was a student back in 1989 or so. I loved reading Library Life, the professional magazine, but once I had to renew as a full priced member I dropped it because I felt it was just too expensive. I did not resurrect my LIANZA membership again until I had to as part of the professional registration system which was introduced 3 or 4 years ago.

I gained my old-school library qualification from Wellington Teachers College back in the late 80s. It was an extremely practical qualification and graduates were really useful employees because they could actually 'do' the work rather than talk about it. I had experience with 2 university-qualified librarians and neither of them were much chop tending to get lost in intricacies and irrelevancies but couldn't even catalogue a book or cope with snotty-nosed, poor white-trash kids climbing on their knee for a cuddle at storytime. For a small town public library they were hopelessly out of their depth. Anyway, I digress ... as I do ....

I had been consciously building a strong CV for at least 5 years before the LIANZA Professional Registration Scheme came out; very deliberately upskilling myself knowing that my then boss would be retiring in the near future. I have been in this same job since I was 21. I came as an untrained, silly girl and worked my way up the ranks, first as a junior library assistant, then cataloguer, Deputy Head of Libraries and now Boss Lady. I gained my library qualification, then a degree with handpicked papers for this job, including modern English, feminist and post colonial lit, NZ and Pacific history and politics, management and journalism. Then I did a 1 year part time course on Linux, and then a 3 year part time course in Network Administration. I knew that when Rosalie retired I would have to face change. That could include applying for her job; knowing I would have to be much, much better than any other applicant to get the job because I had been here so long. The other option would be to apply for a job somewhere else and for that I would also need a brillliant CV to overcome what appears to be a sluggish, unambitious attitude to my career (by staying with one organisation my entire adult life).

All that by way of explaining that I needed Professional Registration to acknowledge my value as a librarian because my library qualification was practically worthless and so that is the only reason I rejoined LIANZA.

I occasionally attend local LIANZA gatherings: AGMS, Mid Winter dos etc. I always enjoy these gatherings immensely; the librarians are bright, bubbly, inspirational, clever, generous .... I do like Librarians as a general rule.

I have never become an office holder and at some point I probably should but at this point I'm not totally confident that LIANZA has a clear idea of its role in relation to APLM, the Association of Public Library Managers, which formed 3 or 4 years ago. I think APLM has siphoned off a lot of 'energy' and expertise.

I used to consider the annual LIANZA Conference a 'must' to attend each year but I am more committed to attending the NDF conference now. The reason for this is that I find NDF stimulating and inspirational whereas LIANZA is often more 'look what we did'. NDF is all about digital collaborations between the GLAM sector: galleries, libraries, archives and museums
and I do believe that is the way we need to be moving. Both conferences are excellent networking opporunities and many librarians attend both but the inspirational, thought provoking, 'jaw dropping' nature of NDF suits me better.

I am thinking lately that I might like to join SOLGM because I am becoming convinced that we librarians need to find better ways to sell our stories to the Councils who fund us. We have to learn how to place our stories in the right framework and tell them with the right words.