#CreativeCrates – tiny maker spaces

I don’t remember exactly how the conversation started but Pam, our District Children’s Librarian, phoned and asked if she could make a tiny #MakerSpace using Lego and a crate. Yeah, sure. We’d been thinking about ways to encourage people into doing more than read, use the wifi and so on anyway, so why not have a shot? We wanted to try maker spaces without necessarily going all hi-tech.

Pam went shopping and now we have two #CreativeCrates with colouring books for adults, pencils, felts and a pencil sharpener, and four #CreativeCrates of Meccano or Lego. The Meccano and Lego will be good as a book club alternative for those times when a traditional book club isn’t working. We’re thinking about kits with wool, needles and baby knit patterns so people can knit for charity, and something similar with crochet.

I brought home the Meccano and two colouring books to try. The Meccano was hilarious – I had to redo step two 3 times – turns out I’m not very good with those kinds of instructions. I don’t think I’ll be finishing it. The colouring I loved; I knew I would!

We want to stay low on rules – we’re thinking a laminated label on the top of the clear container with contents, age limit if needed, and a request to show respect and tidy up after yourself. Thanks to all the awesome librarians on the web who have shared their maker spaces and inspired us to give this a try.

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Brain overload

My brain is a bit overloaded at the moment, so it’s hard to get anything coherent out onto paper. Yet that’s exactly what I need to do, as I think well when I put into down on paper (keyboard). The kind of stuff I have swirling is:

  • How do we get more staff engaged with the digital world?
  • Why haven’t I found time to finish weeding the reference books yet?
  • Should we run something, and what, for our migrant communities?
  • What should our proposed new library look like / have in it?
  • Do some of my staff need to do some Open Poly papers?
  • Would a modified ANZ 23 mobile things be a good idea?
  • Could we run a series of adverts about the basics we offer?
  • Are hot desks as annoying as I think they are?
  • Would a mobile shelving unit be good for the graphic novels?
  • Have I got all the info I need for the financial reports?
  • Are carpet tiles really better than ordinary carpet?
  • Do we want a technology suite if we get a new building?
  • Is getting staff out onto the floor really better customer service?
  • Should all staff from a certain level up be RLIANZA?


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Take care of your own PD

This weekend was the #IkariaHui15. I couldn’t be there for personal reasons but, if the tweets & photos are anything to go by, they had a great time sharing learning on a range of topics. It’s something I talk about a lot with librarians who want a career, not just a job – the days of work providing all, or even most, of our professional development are long gone. It’s your career, so you should take charge of your own PD.

Weekends like the Ikaroa Hui are a great chance to network, learn cool new stuff, perhaps try your hand at presenting, and be part of wider librarianship. Well done to the organisers, and to all those who were able to attend.

Andy team

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Giant thinking day

We had a giant thinking day last week. We hired a room, got in muffins and stuff for making lunch, and settled down for serious work. We heard from my manager, thought about what we should start, keep and stop, looked at the quality and quantity of signage for our seven buildings, talked about some ideas I’d had tucked away people that had mentioned over the last few months, then prioritised the start and stop Post-it notes, and finally assigned project leaders and chose initial deadlines.

I expected lots of can we do this thing and can we get an xyz cool thing. I was wrong, and should have known better. A lot of what we identified involved more staff training and opportunities. Of course that’s how it needs to be; without good staff all the whizz bang stuff in the world won’t make a vibrant library, and a great event is no good without staff who respond well to customers.

We have great staff with a wide range of skills but there’s always room for development and that’s where a lot of our planning is going to focus. We also identified signage, promotion, services to Maori and getting staff out from behind the counter as priorities. By 4pm we were exhausted, but it’d been a great day. Over Easter I wrote up everything we had chosen as a top priority, assisted by Goldie, who can never resist the rustle of paper…

IMG_1055 IMG_1056 IMG_1062

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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 Betaout.com

Image from Betaout.com

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 CafePess.com

Seen on CafePess.com

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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 kristinlindeen.com via Pinterest.
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