A huge thank you to Gail Cook and Rosamund Feeney for recapping the weekend!
By Gail Cook
A wonderful weekend was had by all, and despite some minor technical difficulties, it was wonderful to be able to hear from inspiring speakers from all over New Zealand. To keep the weekend succinct, we opted to use ‘Slido’ for questions. This allowed attendees to ask any questions they had at any point during presentations, with speakers answering these questions at the end of their session. A fun twist on this was the final speaker for the weekend, Rob Cruickshank, when he turned the tables on us and used Slido to ask questions of the audience throughout his presentation. Well played Rob!
We had a fantastic lineup of speakers, of which I would like to share a few highlights. Triona Doocey of the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch Archives shared the story of how the archives were established, as well as the move from being solely a repository, to being a service of engagement with the history of the Catholic Diocese. Mike Dickison from Westland District Libraries spoke of how their community digitisation programme was increasing access to historical collections, all while working with a nil budget!
We heard heartfelt stories of initiatives making a real difference in the lives of our communities. Amy Chiles from Christchurch City Libraries spoke of the RAD (Recycle A Device) programme implemented at Linwood Library. In partnership with community organisations, businesses donate old laptops which are then refurbished and put into the hands of someone who needs it. From Ōtaki Library on the Kapiti Coast, Tiriata Carkeek detailed the creation of an edible community sharing garden at the front entrance of their facility. Not only does this provide a space for staff to connect with their patrons, but also provides fresh produce that can be harvested as it is needed by the community.
Louisa Wilkinson from Upper Hutt City Libraries explained the Scribble and Scribe creative literacy classes that are run fortnightly. This gives young people a chance to be creative without the need to conform to a certain style of creativity. Louisa got us all thinking when she got each table to have a turn creating a collaborative story! Emily Jin and Susan Osteen from Christchurch City Libraries presented an exciting session on sensory storytimes, which they run at Tūranga. Arriving with a big trolley of sensory goodies, the audience loved getting to play while hearing about this important inclusive programme designed to make storytime accessible to children for whom regular sessions might be overwhelming.
We would like to thank all who attended, and especially all our speakers who shared with us over the weekend. I think I can speak for everyone when I say we walked away with valuable new knowledge, inspiration, and some new friends. We look forward to seeing you at a LIANZA event soon!
By Rosamund Feeney
“It really puts what we do into a wider context.”
This was spoken by one of the attendees and I think it really summarises why weekend schools are so important. We may attend because we love all things libraries and want to hear what every else is up to, but what we discover is an appreciation for the impact we are already having on our communities.
The weekend was all about inclusivity and it was such a joy to see how responsive everyone was to the theme. The lanyards were rainbow, there was space to write pronouns on name badges and the programme was packed with everything form queer fiction to the freedom of information.
We kicked off with Siren Deluxe talking about the role of sex and sexuality in the public library in a presentation that left everyone buzzing with inspiration. Coming from a museum background, Siren talked about how these spaces hold onto items from the past while libraries have the power to influence the present. You could feel the excitement through the room and through the Zoom as she looked at how items in the catalogue can have a significant impact when it comes to representation and having honest and inclusive conversations about sexuality.
The importance of our collections was a theme across the weekend, and we all appreciated the reminder of the power of books. There was also a lot of conversation generated around how we can engage with groups that aren’t always visible in our spaces. We heard from amazing librarians who have designed programmes to get teens into the library (we can all relate to that struggle!) how the homeless population is perceived, ways we can delivery sensory story times to tamariki and even how a community garden can transform a library.
With any conversation on inclusivity comes hard conversations as we are often forced to confront ways, we may have made individuals feel uncomfortable in our space or neglected to consider their perspectives. These might be our initial beliefs towards the homeless people that visit the library or difficult conversation we need to have around racism as we prepare for the changes to the NZ curriculum which will tell Aotearoa’s histories. All are difficult topics, but the weekend was a reminder that acknowledging these and having a safe space to talk with other librarians is the first step in becoming more inclusive.
It’s easy to walk away from any kind of library get-together bubbling with so many ideas that you don’t know where to start and this weekend was no exception. A few of us thought back to Saskia Hill’s talk on queer YA fiction when she asked, ‘What’s one thing you are going to do when you go back to your library?’ A simple question, but a reminder that just just one thing can build, inspire, grow and transform our library into an inclusive space.