Libraries our taonga
Six years ago the finishing touches were being made to Te Takeretanga o Kurahau-po¯ in preparation for a huge opening on Saturday, September 29. I joined the team a week later, excited to be working in New Zealand’s most innovative public library. Inside this facility were more computers per capita than any public library in the country; a purpose built space for youth; spaces for meetings, events and exhibitions; technology that turned visiting librarians green with envy and a range of activities that delighted all who came through the doors. I am now preparing to leave for a new challenge at another public library that is turning heads in offering library services in a unique way.
The greatest taonga in this library, and all others around the world, are the kaitiaki — the caretakers not only of the books you borrow but of the very essence of the library. It is those people who connect you in the community with the information you need to help your children with their homework, with the novel that sits on your bedside table, with the movies you will watch in the weekend, with the Stepping Up workshop that enables you to become more confident users of technology. They are the people who welcome you into our buildings to learn, read, be warm, meet friends, drink coffee, enjoy a concert and stay all day if you wish to.
Being a librarian is so much more than learning how to carry out processes and procedures. After 30 years as a librarian I firmly believe librarianship is not just my career but my vocation and my calling. The kaupapa of public librarianship in particular runs through my veins as it does those of my colleagues in our libraries in Foxton, Levin and Shannon. As I write this, my final editorial, I can hear conversations about banned book week which is when librarians stand up on your behalf and defend the right to have certain books on our shelves so you are free to borrow them. Others are excited about taking over Spark Jump workshops so families with children have affordable internet.
As I depart for Te Aka Mauri, the brand new Rotorua Library and Children’s Health Hub, I am proud of what librarians have achieved in New Zealand. Just last week it was announced that the largest library conference in the world is coming to Auckland in 2020 — this is an incredible achievement and shows how highly regarded New Zealand library professionals are worldwide. Horowhenua is blessed with not only Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-po¯ but a second library and community hub, Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom in Foxton, and a warm and friendly library service in Shannon. If you haven’t used one of these libraries in a while, take the time to attend Festival of Stories between September 19-23 and reacquaint yourself with all that is on offer on your doorstep.