Laurinda Thomas is the Wellington City Libraries and Community Spaces Manager. She is a former LIANZA President and the current chair of the LIANZA Credentials Committee. Laurinda has recently joined the ReadNZ Te Pou Muramura Board.
Laurinda has lived in Wellington half her life, and the other half in Palmerston North. She has two children (four and six), who keep her on her toes and give her the best excuse to read lots of picture books!
An interesting fun fact about Laurinda: she learnt to read by watching Sesame Street! She was addicted to TV as a kid and watched hours and hours of Sesame Street. But now, Laurinda hardly watches TV at all!
Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed for this edition of Library Life, Laurinda.
I applied for the board role with Read NZ Te Pou Muramura as I was really drawn to their mission to have more New Zealanders reading more books. I also knew about Writers in Schools which I thought was a great programme. I felt that there were a lot of ideas that we could share between the library sector and Read NZ Te Pou Muramura. And it is always really rewarding to sit on boards.
What do you hope to achieve with your appointment?
I would love to see ReadNZ Te Pou Muramura extend the reach of what they do, working side by side with libraries. We both have such strong missions around the value of reading and the opportunities, escapes, and pleasure that reading brings. Because Read NZ Te Pou Muramura is a charitable trust, they have opportunity to apply for funding that libraries often can’t, so there’s an opportunity to do different kinds of initiatives that libraries might otherwise have trouble getting funding for. I hope I can help bridge that gap so together we can all cover more ground.
Why is reading and literacy throughout New Zealand important?
Literacy is a building block for so many other opportunities in life. Without it, it’s difficult to truly participate in society. I’m watching my six-year old in her learning to read journey, and it’s so exciting – for her and me!
What is your hope for the future of New Zealand, literacy, and reading for pleasure?
I would love to see an explosion of New Zealand authors writing for kids and young people right across every age group, and strong support for teachers to teach New Zealand content that reflects the kids in their class. In a 2018 report, 27% of kids in year eight disagreed with the statement “the things we read in class are about people like me and my family/whānau”. If we want kids to love reading, they have to be able to see their culture, language, and identity reflected in what they read.
Who are some of your favourite New Zealand based authors?
Most of my favorite New Zealand authors are poets! Bill Manhire is one of my favourite authors. I met him once when I was doing my Masters, and it’s the only time I’ve been legitimately star struck.
Recommend a book!
I can’t choose one! But I have a huge soft spot for The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
Why are libraries important to a country?
Libraries play a huge and often unrecognized role in communities, not just in terms of reading and knowledge, but in community building and social connection. We’ve really seen that with the closure of our central library here in Wellington. It’s been quite amazing for people to realise the many roles a library plays in everyday life, for a whole range of people.
Thank you Laurinda for sitting down with us and discussing your thoughts on your new role at ReadNZ Te Pou Muramura, and the role of books, literacy, and libraries within New Zealand.