Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Reading summary

2015 reaches it's end and here I am ... *dusts off the blog* ... to jot down my reading for this year. 

It's been a good year for reading for me.  I am confident that this is due to my commute into town being so long that I spent much of the time on the ferry reading a book.  Also, the ability to read during lunchtime helps.  Now that I'm working closer to home and no longer using public transport as much, that will change though.

Number of books read: 90
I'm impressed!  This is the most I've read since I joined GoodReads.  I abandoned one book, Gone Girl.  I really couldn't find any reason to continue with it.

Number of non-fiction books: 28
Number of fiction books: 62

Number of poetry books: 1

As always, there were a few books not counted in the GoodReads statistics.  I re-read at least 2 Connie Willis books that I can remember. 

Stand out books this year

Do no harm by Henry Marsh
This is Marsh's memoir about his life as a brain surgeon.  I also watched the documentary associated with the book.  This one stood out for me because of the candid nature of his tale, the challenges that a person in his position faces and the weight of responsibility that patients place upon him, his skills and judgement.  It also made me think more deeply about the nature of humanity.

The Martian by Andy Weir
I enjoyed this book as true escapism, funny narrative and gripping story.  Nothing deeper than that!

The secret chord by Geraldine Brooks & Game of queens by India Edgehill
These two books stand out for similar reasons.  They are retold tales of Biblical characters that in scripture are role models for many in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Brooks chose to write about David's life - I found it an engaging story which did actually flesh out what makes for pretty dry reading in the Bible.  Edgehill's story of Esther certainly enlivened the Biblical telling - the latter is of course told from a patriarchal view, whereas the fiction is mostly from a women's point of view.  Both stories are great reads.

The life and times of Auckland by Gordan McLauchlan
While this isn't the most exciting of reads, I found the history of my home town very relevant to the challenges it faces even today.  If you are an Aucklander, I'd recommend you read this one.  As it happened, I was reading this in September when the 175th anniversary of Hobson's purchase of the land from Te Kawau (Orakei tribal chieftain) occurred. It was particularly poignant to attend the small ceremony that took place in Emily Place to commemorate this.  I later read Tessa Duder's biography of Sarah Mathew, who was present at the event.

Most disturbing books

The blue between sky and water by Susan Abulhawa
The perspectives in this story are rarely seen portrayed in the media.

Pandemic by James Barrington
The premise this book is based on is pretty much enough to keep you awake at night.

Books that made me laugh (and also cry)

A spot of bother by Mark Haddon
The Rosie project by Graham Simsion (and the sequel, The Rosie effect)

Heading into 2016, my "To-read" list has not got any shorter!

Monday, August 03, 2015

Future of Libraries Summit #fol15

Friday July 31 was spent in Wellington for the Future of Libraries summit.  There are several blogs already about this event and a Storify is embedded below (thanks to @sarahlibrarina).

I was excited to attend the event, enjoyed the day and came away invigorated and a bit frustrated too.  It was a beginning though and I look forward to seeing some consolidated actions come from it.

The first agenda item was to look at the key drivers for the profession.  This is something I'd been thinking quite deeply about as it was the focus for my presentation to the panel for my application to be awarded ALIANZA.

In my opinion the two main key drivers are access and openess - and most other drivers fall out of these.

Such as:
  • Preservation & curation
  • Information & creativity
  • Learning
  • Community spaces
  • People (staff and customers)
  • Literate, knowledgeable and connected citizens

I also like Lankes assertion “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities” but this statement needs major unpacking to illustrate it's comprehensive coverage.  (There is a whole book that does this)!

The next agenda item 
What would a flourishing library sector look like in 2025 if we address these key drivers?

I think the library sector is already doing pretty good if not flourishing already.  But we do need to keep agile, true to our professional values and constantly looking for ways to advocate our relevance to our funders.  There is plenty of research out there that can help us with the latter.

If access is a key driver then our profession needs to seek ways to increase access.  One way to do this is to look at making library access ubiquitous and the "norm".  Could we do this though a lifelong library pathway? There are libraries for every age of life but they aren't obviously contiguous.
Perhaps we should be seeking collaborative arrangements with groups such as Plunket to give newborns and their families a library card and introduction to programmes especially for that young group.  Join our mobile library services with Plunket clinics (and a coffee cart)!  How then to link to school libraries --> tertiary libraries -->coporate libraries?  I wonder if the library as a platform is the answer to this?  One library card for all of the nation's public libraries?  How would this address gaps such as people in rural areas, marginalised groups?  I don't have the answers but I think these are conversations we need to be having.

In order to keep flourishing I do think our voice as a profession needs to be louder and our advocacy around the key driver of openess more visible.  

This kind of change starts with me.  I need to learn how to be a better advocate for the profession in the places I have influence over.  This includes my friends and family.  The message I'm giving them when talking about things the profession is concerned about - such as copyright, the TPPA, open access - needs to be clearer and I need to be less reticent.  This is the challenge for myself... to have my "elevator speeches" sorted so I'm an effective advocate. The hard work done on Brand Libraries could assist myself and others with this. 

We are a trusted profession but not one that necessarily attracts a representative diversity we need right now.  Our faces and our profession needs to be on the back of buses as a "go to" vocational option for school leavers.  How can we invite more tangata whenua into librarianship - do we need to be visiting marae around the country with a roadshow?   Although I'm a believer in the value of library qualifications, there is room for diversity in our workforce so lets be open minded and welcoming.  

To me, flourishing libraries are key to strengthening communities - whatever that community is.  

I came away from the summit wanting to see bold statements of a shared vision with backbone.  That didn't happen as such but some provocations were made and I'm keen to see a consolidated report of the event which I hope will include some next steps.

In the meantime... advocacy.  Working on that.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


I'm going to be an aunty this year. I am quite excited by this thought because I never expected to be a 'real' aunty.  This fact, and the arrival of a number of new babies for some colleagues and acquaintances makes me realise I have reached that liminal time in my life where I am in between states.

I am no longer in a position where pregnancy would be welcomed. My age and stage in my work life are against me. Physically and biologically it would be possible but would be a strain on every kind of resource - me, mentally, financially, physically, the family.  In some ways this saddens me.  I see my sister passing milestones in her pregnancy that I remember reaching with joy. I remember those first flutters of quickening, like secret messages between the baby and I shared with no one else. Then the languorous rolls and stretches that happen towards the end of gestation - thoughtful and experimental pushes as though testing the boundaries their interior world.  I remember even the feeling of intense stretching of giving birth and the euphoria afterwards. These things I will never experience again.

Yet, while I will allow myself to get clucky I am happy to be reaching out into the next stages.  New experiences await.  Transitional times can be uncomfortable - releasing one for another, acknowledging the passing of things that were valued and looking for new things to embrace.  I am curious to see what is ahead.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

#blog12daysxmas 1Jan 2015

Happy new year!

Busy day packing boxes to move house.  I am going to miss a few things about this house when we move.  The fruit trees we planted for example - not going to be much room for fruit trees at the new place.

I am looking forward to putting in a herb garden- I already have some in pots so they will come with us.

Monarch butterflies choose the dumbest places to put their chrysalis.  😵

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

#blog12daysxmas Dec 31 - Reading this year

Keeping track of my reading is so much easier with Goodreads.

This year I read 43 books.  Actually I read more than that but there were a few I didn't record via Goodreads for various reasons.  

Nonetheless, here is the list of books I read this year below. 

Stand out books for me according to my rating at the time were:

Cutting for stone / Abraham Verghese
The kashmir shawl / Rosie Thomas
Written in my own hearts blood / Diana Gabaldon
A dance with dragons / George R.R. Martin

14 books were non-fiction this year - 32% of the total.  Last year it was 40% so hardly statistically significant.  However, my total is down from 2013 and 2012 which is probably not suprising given the business of the year and the multitude of things I was doing.

#blog12daysxmas 30 Dec. new table

Monday, December 29, 2014

#blog12daysxmas Monday 29th Dec

This is my new remedy to survive stress... a colouring book for adults.

Back to work for me this day.  Surprising how many people were actually in the library on such a gorgeous day but I notice the computers being heavily used by our regulars who don't have their own computing power.  It makes one even more aware of the role public libraries play in the lives of some of our less fortunate citizens.  There were a lot of people looking for the JP service too which (of course) is closed.

It's really important that Aucklanders engage with the planning going on at present on how to spend the budget over the next 10 years.  The long term plan or LTP is coming up for consultation and there are some key things that need Aucklander's input.  Otherwise, the proposals made will go ahead without modification and they may not truly represent what Aucklanders want.  If you care about how your rates are spent - and from my experience there are plenty of people out there who are prepared to moan about it so they must care - then do something productive about it.

So have your say!  You may not get exactly what you want but at least your voice will be heard.  You can do this a number of ways.  The Shape Auckland website is one way.  You can make a submission through your local library.  You can go to the Auckland Council website.

Obviously as an employee of the council I have a vested interest in some of the proposed changes because they will affect me directly.  But I'm also a rate payer and a citizen of Auckland who cares about our city and what is happening in it.  I hope you do too.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

#blog12daysxmas 28th Dec

Sunday - first day of the week and my meditations have been on kindness (specifically Eph 4.32 & Col 3:12).  Kindness always has an impact.

Lunch with the 'rents and then out to the new house to strew some grass seed on the the bare ground outside.  Hoping there'll be some rain to help it sprout before we move in!  (Which is supposed to be towards the end of January).

To that end I packed up some of my cupboards - the glassware, some crockery and my special tea cups.  I have plans to finally get a china cabinet where these can be displayed and more accessible... and therefore used.