Family, conference, kindness

First of all, my husband’s really sick again, so normal life is on hold. One of these days I’ll accept that him not being well *is* now normal life, but not just yet…  As always, I am thankful for love and support, great medical intervention and the fact that, whatever happens, #LoveRemains.


I’m excited about the LIANZA conference in November and have submitted an abstract as there is a workshop I’d like to run. Fingers crossed I get accepted. There’s still time if you’d like to try presenting, go here for more info.

And my final thought before I head for bed (yesterday I worked all day then did a 6 hour round trip to take Tony to the hospital) – be kind to each other, you never really know what someone else could be dealing with.


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We interrupt this broadcast… and gamification

I’m not blogging a lot at the moment. Tony had surgery which didn’t go well, then failed entirely. So we’re dealing with *things*! Normal service will resume…

On the other hand, five of my staff went to the Innovation ’15 conference and were very excited by Sally Pewhairangi’s session on gamification. In fact, some people almost drove me to Mojitos on Twitter, with their excited Tweeting (nagging) about how cool is it, what they want to do, etc. I may even have said something like “Lordy lordy – talk about over excited re #gamification“.  Sally came back with “It’s just so exciting and doable because of low tech requirements” and I “muttered darkly”. But you know what? It’s true!

Image from

Image from

Two staff gave a brief report-back each at least week’s library meeting and it sounds perfectly do-able. Even I, of the stretched budgets and muttery mumbles, am excited. Really excited, in fact. We are hoping to have more news, and an outstanding opportunity for people who are interested, about this shortly – watch this space! 

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Doing the hard stuff

Some days are easy; life sort of glides along and it’s all good. Then there are days when the kindest thing you can do is say “hey, that is just not good enough. What are we going to do to fix this?” to one of your staff.

There is nothing kind about letting someone continue to screw up. It’s not fair on the person, the organisation, or yourself as a manager. I believe in being hard on the problem and soft on the person.

People can only be held accountable for doing a good job if they know what a good job looks like to start with. I try to make sure what I want is explicit – from what a tidy shelf of books looks like, to how a report should be written.

It’s tricky when you have stepped up from being their peer, to their boss. Making sure you have the right distance can be a challenge, and feel a bit lonely. The key is to build a good support network amongst your new peers and stick to your guns. Some days may not be comfortable, but seeing change happen makes the hard days worthwhile.


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Those introvert tendencies


I just spent three long and intense, 7am start, days with a great bunch of people as one of the leaders for something that’s happening in the library profession here in New Zealand. It was part of my role to meet and greet, chat, draw out, include and support.

I am an introvert, and not just any old introvert either – I’m an off-the-end-of-the-scale died-in-the-wool super-strength introvert! Yes, I tend to sit at the edges of the room. Yes, I am very internally focussed. Yes, groups of people make me feel tired.

One of the things we talked about was personality types and a few people were surprised to learn I am an introvert. Why? Because I had been talking to individuals and to the group, took one of the sessions and so on. We often confuse innate qualities with exhibited behaviour. I am an introvert who has learned to do social things because they matter for my work and they matter for my career.

Socialising will never be easy for me; I choose to behave in ways that are contrary to my preferences when I need to. It gets easier over time, but it is never truly easy and sometimes it’s harder than others.

One of the great things about knowing your personality type is it gives you a base from which to develop. But I think I’ll probably always be inclined to stick to the edges of the room…

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Librarians and the art of Zen

I recently moved into a new office, to go with my new role. Currently the space is very plain and there room’s sparsely furnished. Some of that will change, although I do like a calm space to work in. A colleague commented that “it looks very Zen”. I have a small artwork on my wall that says choose calm. I wrote recently about calmness at work – it’s how I try to operate and it has a lot of benefits.

I’ve been watching some Facebook and Twitter sagas in the last few days and can’t help thinking all too often people react and post without thinking. Small thing become giant dramas, people fall out, rules get changed, bullying happens. If people had just stopped and thought for a moment, often it could have been avoided.

This applies in our work life too, especially for those who manage staff. You see or hear something you don’t like and the easy thing is to leap in and enforce a rule, change something, just *do* something. What would happen if we stopped and asked ourselves:

  • Why does this matter?
  • Is what I am seeing really the thing that’s bugging me, or just a trigger?
  • Is the rules being broken the real problem?
  • Why is my staff member doing this?
  • Is now the right time to tackle this if it really is a problem?
  • Have I stopped and taken a deep breathe?

If it really does matter and what you are seeing is truly a problem, go ahead and tackle it. If you actually just need a 5 minute break and a glass of water, perhaps saying and doing nothing except taking that break with a glass of water in your hand better might be the Zen option.

Seen on

Seen on

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This leopard changed her spots

Years ago I did the MBTI test as part of a leadership programme and came out as an INTJ. The Introvert score could not have been higher, and the Thinker was very strong too. People who knew me well agreed the results described me perfectly.

Here’s a little of what the MBTI website says about an INTJ:

As an INTJ, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you take things in primarily via your intuition. INTJs live in the world of ideas and strategic planning. They value intelligence, knowledge, and competence, and typically have high standards in these regards, which they continuously strive to fulfil. Their mind constantly gathers information and makes associations about it. They are tremendously insightful and usually are very quick to understand new ideas. INTJ’s tremendous value and need for systems and organization, combined with their natural insightfulness, makes them excellent scientists.

That’s all fine but, as a librarian, I work with people constantly and as a public servant I see my role as serving people. My strong T result was a worry – where was my concern for people? Was my desire for social change and equality just an abstract idea?

At about the same time my then-manager, Lynne Walker, urged me to start developing wider networks and get myself “out there”. I took on that challenge and also decided to make a conscious effort to think and, and care for, people more deliberately. It is a few years since I did that MBTI test.

I have recently done the 16personalities test; in fact I have now done it 7 times over about 3 weeks, determined the initial result was wrong. But no, the result is pretty steady. I am now an ISFJ so have gone from iNtuition to Sensing and from Thinking to Feeling.

According to the MBTI website the S means I pay attention to physical reality, what I see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. I’m concerned with what is actual, present, current, and real. I notice facts and I remember details that are important to me. I like to see the practical use of things and learn best when I see how to use what I’m learning. Experience speaks to me louder than words

The F means I believe I can make the best decisions by weighing what people care about and the points-of-view of persons involved in a situation. I am concerned with values and what is the best for the people involved. I like to do whatever will establish or maintain harmony. In my relationships, I appear caring, warm, and tactful.

While I am still introverted, it’s not so extreme as before; I’m more balanced and able to cope with people.

I’m pleased I have worked hard at these things over the last few years and it has paid off. I now naturally care for people and in the last year or two have started advocating for more #kindness in librarianship.

Knowing your personality type can help you understand yourself, modify behaviours you are not happy with and perhaps, like me, even change your spots! This leopard sure did…


Image found on via Pinterest.
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Professional development for 2015

As part of the #hyperlibMOOC course I had to develop a professional learning plan, which I revised for 2014. It’s time to revisit it and plan for learning in 2015. I’ll be keeping it simple because I have a new role, a sick husband and limited time.

Goals Statement 

In 2014 I said: The District Librarian intends retiring at the end of 2014 and my overarching goal is to succeed in becoming the next District Librarian. All of my OPLN goals lead back to that one primary focus. I am now in that role and loving it. #achievementunlocked

My primary goal for 2015 is to do a good job in my first year as Libraries and Cultural Services Manager.

Goal: to be able to meet and greet, and introduce myself, in Maori as a minimum standard. I serve a predominantly Maori community and it makes me uncomfortable that I can’t speak Te Reo. I have tried to learn a few times now and think it is worth persisting, despite my obvious lack of talent for languages!

Goal: to increase the presence of the libraries and museum on social media, while ensuring we develop an authentic voice. This was a goal in 2014 and remains relevant.

Goal: to grow my professional network so that I have strong, forward-thinking library and museum people in my social media circle who I can learn from and bounce ideas off. This was a goal in 2014 and remains relevant.

Goal:to be well organized and use my time efficiently so I enjoy my new role and am calm, performing without stress.

What I will do

Te Reo Maori: 

Investigate new ways of learning Te Reo. Now that I travel 30 minutes each way to work, audio tapes might be a good option.

Social media development: 

Write a plan to regularly post on various social media sites, and spend at least 30 minutes a week on professional reading about social media and its impacts.

Professional Network: 

Follow a range of librarians on Twitter, using a list called Librarians who rock, many of whom I met through the ANZ23mobilethings course. I have chosen these librarians because they are spirited, forward-looking, intelligent, kind/generous and opinionated; all qualities I admire.


I will do research to ensure I am using Outlook and OneNote efficiently, and aim to read one book on organization and time management each month.

PD Maintenance Plan 

I will review my PD every six months as part of my work’s performance appraisal process. I want to be an active participant in whatever forums I am involved with, so if I find I am only lurking I will stop using it. This is because if the learning isn’t active I don’t get the full benefit from it.


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Caring is not the same as being

Since the terror attacks in France the other day I have been a bit uneasy. It wasn’t anxiety about increased terror levels, or a worry it’ll come here to NZ, or concern for friends in other countries (although I do worry about them). I couldn’t define it but *something* was bugging me. What?

And then I read this – it’s a blog post titled “Why I am not Charlie”. I’d urge you to read it; I don’t agree with all of it, and probably even disagree with parts, but it was a light bulb moment. It centres on the #JeSuisCharlie or #IAmCharlie campaign and, in the blog writer’s view, why the campaign misses the mark.

As a librarian I care deeply about people, about social concerns, intellectual freedom, censorship, libraries being a safe place for everyone and all those other good things. Some nights I sit and weep in front of the news; probably more often than I would care to admit. I weep about murders, abandoned kids, social injustices…

I hope the two libraries I managed recently are safe and welcoming for anyone who comes in the doors. Those users might be Maori, deaf, Muslim, old, young, Chinese, disabled, Christian, bi polar - and the list goes on.

To make that happen - to care deeply, to welcome people and make them feel safe – I don’t have to be the same as them. I can’t be all those things, but I can do my job. So you’re Muslim? Welcome. Jewish? Welcome. Indian? Welcome. Australian? Welcome.

If, as a librarian, #JeSuisCharlie, what are the implications? I think I’d rather be #JeSuisCath and do my job, which is to provide service without prejudice and to show #kindness to everyone that comes in through those doors.

je suis

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Just say no

As the new year starts and people get ready for work tomorrow I can see a few things happening on Twitter; people being tempted to check their work emails, getting their bag packed ready for the morning, starting to read work-related articles and so on. As librarians we seem to have trouble putting our work aside completely. I guess the written word is everywhere, so we’re always being reminded, and our work is all about people and it’s kind of hard to escape those too ;-)

A couple of Twitter friends have terrible trouble saying no to anything. We’ve agreed to support each other this year so they gain the confidence to say no to things they shouldn’t take on. (you know who you are …)

This year I’ll be working on the following and encouraging my friends to do the same:

  • say no appropriately
  • keep away from work emails after hours


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