I think I realised how much I get out of attending these weekend schools, when I found myself at Hennessy’s Irish Bar shining my phone torch through the cellophane ‘stained glass window’ of the cardboard library room mock-up our team had created. We’d been divided into groups and given the task of creating a new library-room concept. The brief was ‘no budgetary constraints, sky’s the limit’ and our group came up with a MVP (minimum viable product) incorporating a water fountain, movie screen, beanbags (of course), moveable walls, plus the optional possibility of completely filling with water and fish or turning into a fully immersive holographic experience. We described it as a configurable all-ages space inspired by the metamorphosis in Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar with a side-reference to Kafka.
We didn’t win any prizes (competition was fierce!) but the exercise illustrates the tone of the weekend – with deep conversation about the changing role of libraries in society.
Children’s and Teens Programme Specialist Librarian Penny Guy, from Tauranga City Libraries, reported on the research trip she undertook thanks to her Edith Jessie Carnell Travelling Scholarship. She visited Chicago Libraries offering the Sensory Storytimes programme, designed for 3 to 9-year-old children with special needs. Challenges around library recruiting practices were covered in a panel discussion, with some librarians commenting on the need to partner with their security staff when dealing with difficult patrons. Carol Routley, a library education specialist who teaches at the Open Polytechnic and works between Whakatane and Perth, introduced her ongoing national research into library revenue-generation policies and practices, tabling searching questions she is currently investigating. There were personal accounts about changing library environments from large to small, or from librarian to vendor.
In our final activity we brainstormed in small groups about the future of library facilities, resourcing and staffing. Suggestions included providing safe sleeping spaces for the homeless, participating further in the sharing economy by extending the kinds of items available to lend to household and gardening equipment, as well as books, videos and toys. Most importantly, everyone recognised the need to start planning now to accommodate rapidly changing future communities and funding models.
And that was where the weekend ended – and then we all lingered on the marae in front of the meeting house, in no great hurry to rush away.
Michelle Anderson | Team Leader, Library Service Delivery at Tauranga City Libraries, with the winning team’s library concept room. Michelle co-MC’d the weekend with Penny Guy (pictured below).
Penny Guy | Children’s and Teens Programme Specialist Librarian at Tauranga City Libraries.
Photos courtesy LIANZA: Te Whakakitenga aa Kaimai.