Training disaster averted!

We were fortunate to get a $43,000 grant from the TSB Community Trust towards eight 3D printers and the accompanying bits ‘n bobs. Each branch will have one, even the smallest which is only part time, because all our residents deserve equal access to information and learning opportunities.

We had two days of training planned, the first full day with Tim from @Mindkits and then train the trainer with other staff on the second half day. And then it happened; Tim’s flight circled for 30 minutes before being sent back to Auckland because of bad weather in New Plymouth. Argh! Now what?

What happened next is the result of couple of years of training people, encouraging them to have a go and feel confident, and not sweating the small stuff. With an hour until staff were due to arrive, Sue and Katherine said “We think we can train them. We’ve found an app on the net and had a look at the printers”. How awesome is that!

They did a fantastic job. Sure, not everything went smoothly, but staff went away excited and confident to give it a go. It was a good reminder of how our users can feel when things don’t go to plan. I love that my staff are happy to try things out, and put their hands up.

For the second day we’d invited staff from Puke Ariki down to have a play too. They seemed to enjoy themselves and it was great to spend some time with our near(ish) neighbours. I suspect they’ll be asking their managers for 3D printers too now.

C7fUbGiVsAAzIFp C7ikZvMVsAED6EM C7j43sDVwAAztxg C7jjb1JU8AADtbS C7ph-SyVwAAa08w

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning new things can be uncomfortable

A group of us at work are working on our Asset Management Plans (AMPs) and ensuring anything in our business plans, and the Long Term Plan (LTP), is backed up by evidence and supported by the AMPs. I understand how it fits together and why we need to do it. However, it involves getting our heads around stuff we might never have tackled before.

For instance, one of the tasks is to get Condition Reports done on our buildings, and I have seven of them. We’re probably going to get an external company to do the assessments and reports but I need to decide on the level on componetisation. I thought they’d decide that for me, as the experts, but no – because the level I want to manage to, is the level they need to report to.

Let me explain so you can see why my head is struggling. We can break down the building into components – roof, walls, floors, etc. Or do we want to condition report on windows, floorings, paint & wallpaper, electrics and plumbing so we can forecast maintenance and replacement in the LTP? But what if one building has vinyl and carpet, or wooden and aluminium windows. Do I want it broken down that far because they’ll have different useful lives so I need to allow replacement in different years of the LTP? Do some buildings need a different level of componetisation to others?

I was talking to my boss about it. She laughed and said “well, at least you’re learning new things I guess, so that’s good”. So true, and once the AMP is done, I’ll be pleased with myself. In the meantime, it’s hard going, and reminds me to be patient with staff who are learning new things.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thinking ahead to #open17

I’m already thinking about this year’s LIANZA conference, who to take, and how many. I have generous staff training and conference budgets, but need approval from my manager in terms of individuals attending and overall cost. We take spending ratepayers money seriously, so neeed to demonstrate the benefits. It used to be that we only took qualified staff to conference, but I think that’s outdated and discriminatory. Here’s my initial thinking on benefits from attending this year:

  • Staff can visit some new builds, ideal when we’re in the early design phase of a new main facility.
  • Staff who have been before can renew professional friendships
  • There’s a wide range of keynotes, so somehting to inspire each of us.
  • Some staff want to present and, if they get accepted, it’s a great opportunity.
  • Two staff are part of, or have graduated from, Kotuku so it’s a chance to catch up with their cohort.
  • It gives us time away from work to think about what we do in fresh ways.
  • We get to bond as a team by travelling and staying together.
  • We’re able to judge what we’re doing against the work of others, providing us with a useful yardstick.
  • Oh, and attending is great fun! ?
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Providing training opportunities

I’ve got about 30 staff, including casuals, so providing external professional development opportunities for everyone isn’t an option. Mind you, I have a reasonably generous training budget, and manage to send quite a few staff away each year. We’re also taking up LIANZAs training package offer, so all staff can participate. I know training and PD makes staff feel valued, and I want them to grow in skills and confidence.

The solution we’ve come up with is in-house training; we do 2 half day sessions twice a year so as many staff can attend as practical. In a four-hour session we cover a few topics. This coming week Sue will do a ‘tips & tricks in Koha’ session, Pam will refresh their skills with tot time and they’ll have a chance to plan out some sessions they can share with each other. I’ll do a Post-It note session with them about what we want in our new main library.

I’ve also given two staff a 15-minute slot each to talk about what they’re doing in their branch that’s successful, and how they have gone about it. It’s a small group each time so a non-threatening way of learning to present, and it’s good for them all to realise they each have a lot to offer their peers.

If anyone has other ideas for in-house training that’s inexpensive, doesn’t use up too much time, and builds people’s skills – I’d love to hear about it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


As I started writing, the horrors occurring in the USA were very much on my mind. Then I deleted it and started over. I’ve realised I need more time to process what I’m seeing and hearing before I can say anything coherent, let alone useful. That’s one of the things about deep introversion; I need time to think things through – quick answers are not my forte!

Then I remembered my dear library friend Justin Hoenke (@JustinLibrarian) had asked us to #shareGoodstuff on social media. Sharing good news is a reminder there *is* still a lot of good in the world, and we can each do our bit to keep it that way.

Every year at South Taranaki District Libraries we do the Summer Reading Programme, and incorporate an entertainer into our finale parties. This year we had Adrian Kirk perform his Reading Rocks session. It was brilliant; there’s a strong emphasis on the joy and value of reading, and a great deal of fun and laughter thanks to juggling and a unicycle. I can’t rate him highly enough.

This year more than 400 kids did the programme and the feedback has been great. My staff did an amazing job and I’m so proud of them for the effort they put in. Kids and parents alike have enjoyed it, and the completion rate is high. It’s good to know all those kids are going back to school with a summer of reading behind them.

adrian 1 adrian 2 adrian 3 adrian 4 adrian 5 adrian 6


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Statitics vs perception

I’m the first to admit there are times when I’ve wanted to save a book from weeding just because I like it or think it’s ‘worthy’ somehow. Haven’t we all? Recent news articles about some USA librarians creating fake patrons to borrow books so the books don’t get weeded got me thinking about our own deletion practices in South Taranaki. We use a combination of stats and librarian knowledge, with a base set of guidelines re book age etc.

I spent a lot of time this week delving a bit deeper into our stats, looking at turnover rates for individual collections. I worked out the turnover rate per branch per collection, then the average across the district, and ranked each collection by branch from highest to lowest turnover. Interesting stuff!  

One thing I’ve realised is that what staff say about a collection, and what the stats say, can be *very* different.

 Here’s a couple of examples:

  • One branches staff have said that adult graphics are a bit of a waste of money because they don’t go out. The stats say their branch has the highest turnover rate of adult graphics of any of the seven branches.
  • Another branch was asking for more books in a particular collection because they can’t keep up with demand. The stats say their branch has the lowest turnover rate of all seven branches for that collection and they have 400 title that have not gone out in the last year.

I am not saying they are lying … it’s about our perceptions versus reality.

Where there are simple changes we can do easily, we’re doing them. If a collection is underused in one library and overused in another, we’re shifting x number of titles. For some collections it’s more complicated than that and we’re discussing how to handle it. For example, our main branch needs probably 500 more picture books but is jammed full already while we wait for our new building in about 3 years. We might be able to rearrange some space, or cull a little older material, but really any overly busy collections in Hawera might need to stay that way for now.

The big lesson for me is to take the time and effort to create, then understand, the stats you need; not to rely on perceptions. 2017 is going to be a year of instinct combined with fact-based decisions. If anyone has anything to share re turnover rates, I’d love to hear it.

Holiday programme fun at Waverley with Pam J.

Holiday programme fun at Waverley with Pam J. They made balloon powered land yachts.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

2017 – my year of being prepared

In 2016 my ‘one little word’ was intention. Each year my chosen word provides a focus for me, and the things I want to achieve. ‘Intention’ didn’t turn out to be just the right word somehow; it was ok, but not great. Normally I have the word on my wall, to pull my thoughts and focus back. I didn’t do that in 2016 and I think that is much of the reason it didn’t work out. This year, I’ll be keeping my word on my wall, so it’s always present.

This year I mentioned ‘one little word’ on Twitter and people suggested hope, courage, and strength. They’re all good words, but the one I keep coming back to is “prepared”. It just feels right, and suits both home and work. So, in 2017, I will be PREPARED

  • to give people my trust
  • to have hard conversations
  • for when the architects ask tricky questions
  • to put time and effort into my professional development
  • to let go of the outcomes
  • to listen to what the public want
  • to let go of little goals and focus on the main ones
  • to nurture my staff
  • to put my time committees and working groups
  • to make decisions that might not please everyone

one little word


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

And back again

I haven’t blogged since June – dreadful. I spent August preparing, then had surgery at the beginning of September. I’ve been quite sick ever since, but am feeling better now and want 2017 to be a blogging year. Writing helps me think (true introvert) and I’ve missed the connection. As the year draws to a close there are some highlights from my professional life I’d like to record:

  • We’ve chosen Warren & Mahoney as architects for our new library/community centre. In the last week we’ve been able to announce that we’ve purchased the land for the project.
  • Coding Club and Lego Club have taken off. The parents really get into it with the kids, and it builds great connections.
  • We’ve employed a school leaver as a cadet and will be paying for Tyla to do her Level 5 diploma through Open Poly. It’s exciting to be growing our own amazing staff.
  • We’ve partnered with Puke Ariki to bring BorrowBox eBooks and eAudio to our customers.
  • The large tree outside Eltham is regularly yarn bombed and is all dressed up for Christmas as I write this.
  • We’ve had some great speakers, including a local funeral director, breast cancer coordinator and Alzheimer’s advocate, and numbers at coffee mornings and craft groups are growing in some branches.

Probably one of our biggest achievements though, is that we have got through a busy year without major drama. My staff are a fantastic bunch and it’s a pleasure leading them. Here’s to an awesome 2017.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A pass, and a fail

So, I did #blogjune again. I’d give myself a D- for effort and actual writing, but an A for reconnecting with blogs I love. I blogged more than usual, but nothing like one a day or even once every week day. What I did do was rediscover some great blogs by people whose writing I enjoy, so that’s a huge positive.

 Do I mind failing. Nope, not at all. I’m busy, Tony has shingles; life is wonderful, good, bad and ugly all at once. So I am cutting myself some slack, because that’s what I would do for other people in the same situation. #BeKindToYourself #TryingCountsToo


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

This is what matters

Some days are hard, some decisions are hard. But this is why we do what we do. Simple really, isn’t it!

happy kid reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment