In a kōrero today, someone spoke about the changes facing libraries and the resulting need for those working in libraries to consider development opportunities outside of the expected norm. The intent or purpose here was ‘to be ready’. I have had this whakaaro on my mind for some time and, if I speak the truth, it was nice to hear someone else actually say it out loud.
For me, this means looking for development opportunities both inside and outside of the library world. In my professional role as a teaching librarian, and for my own personal development, I believe that the sustenance needed to succeed on your chosen path will come from multiple sources. In the same way we eat a variety to fruits and vegetables to sustain our bodies, we need a variety of sources from which to gather information to grow and nourish our minds, body and spirit. I don’t ever recall hearing someone say “You’re learning too much – stop it”.
Library development opportunities certainly have a place in the growth and nourishment of anyone working in a library. I attended my first Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) conference in 2011 (Wellington). I remember being absolutely wide-eyed, fascinated and excited at seeing so many librarians in one place (Can you tell I live in a small town?). The keynotes were amazing and the atmosphere was electric. Conferences are a wonderful way to learn. You gain an understanding of different types of libraries, the challenges they face, the successes they have had and everything in-between. It is also a great way to network and to make connections with others. In Wellington I had the opportunity to catch up with other first year MIS students I had met a number of months earlier at orientation. This was also where I first met my Tāne – who would have thought 🙂
The information-sharing aspect was something I enjoyed immensely and I valued the learning I gained from those who had ‘been there and done that’. In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to contribute to this shared pool of information. I wanted to share my knowledge or skill in a particular area with others keen to learn from my experiences. With the support of my workplace I was, thankfully, able to do this as a presenter at LIANZA in 2012 (Palmerston North) and 2013 (Hamilton). My choice of topics however couldn’t have been further apart. In 2012, inspired by my own whakapapa research hurdles documented as a study assignment, I chose to share what I had learned in using the Māori Land Court Minute Book Index as a lightning presentation. In 2013, this time inspired by work and study experiences, I co-presented a workshop helping others to use Twitter. While I was in Hamilton I crossed paths with someone who wanted to kōrero about what they had gained from my LIANZA12 presentation. To them, my kōrero was useful, important and had meaning and relevance. Isn’t that what we want to gain in our own development?
In a similar but different vein, I attended my first Hui-ā-Tau in April 2013 (Whakatāne) as a personal member of Te Rōpū Whakahau. This type of conference is for Māori working or engaged within the library and information sectors and is held on a marae. I have only been to 3 marae, and one was for my father’s tangi. That experience did not go well and to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. Again, I went in wide-eyed, fascinated, excited and frightened. I guess when you’re in an environment you’re not used too, this might be a standard description. The conference had a personal element for me too. My Koro, who I never met, was born in Tāneatua and the connection to this place, this area, was made. At times things and people felt familiar, as if they had always been that way. I’m not quite sure how to articulate that any better than I have. Perhaps it is its own post one day. Anyways, the experience provided sustenance for both my ‘library-self’ and my ‘Māori-self’ and I guess this may have been where my initial whakaaro came from: considering development opportunities outside the norm. In this case for me it was my cultural development.
Looking towards 2014 some of the areas I am keen to explore further in terms of development outside of libraries are (in no particular order):
- Personal Learning Networks (PLN)
I am starting to develop big goals for each and then work back with smaller steps that I think will help me get there. Some of my big goals are huge and things I would not have considered 6 months ago. Some are things others have told me I cannot do. Some are things I feel are absolutely outside of my comfort zone but need to do in order to grow. To give myself the sustenance I need.
I am leaving my definition of development as broad and open as possible. It might be a conference, an article, or a workshop. It might be something as simple as a kōrero between colleagues or a group of friends. Formal and informal. It might be something I haven’t thought of yet.
It’s exciting to think about where this journey will take me.