Tuakana: Martin Lewis

For our first Tuakana of the year, I'd like to introduce one of the backbones of our mahi here at Te Papa: Martin Lewis. Martin is one of the librarians who work really closely with my (Matariki) team and has one of the most impressive talents for recall that I've ever seen. With every little query we have, Martin has suggestions pouring at us before we've even begun. Aside from being an absolute whizzbang gem of a librarian, he's a genuinely kind and warm person. I've held numerous positions and internships at Te Papa over the past 8 years and Martin's friendly face and supportive ear has been a constant, so thank you Martin. I'm sure there are many invisible virtual claps occurring right now as people read this.

In five words, describe your role in the sector. 

Connecting people, knowledge & things (mostly stolen from our teams Purpose statement, but so true)

What is it about the sector that you love?

Meeting history, interacting with the things that were ‘there’ at a point of time or event.  It’s one thing to know the stories of a time long gone, but to see (and better yet hold) something that was present at X moment is powerful.  It is even more powerful when you are connecting people to these stories, especially if they have a direct connection.  And then being able to share that experience and the stories is what gets me up in the morning. 

What have been some challenges in your career?

Stereotypes around Library/information management – ‘oh you work in a library/museum, must be great to read all those books/look at the exhibitions everyday’ or ‘why do we need a library/do information management in the age of Mr Google (Or Trump ‘info age’)’.  That sort of thing is always fun to encounter, you have to see it as an opportunity to bring people on board.  Always comes down to showing your worth to your organisation/customer base – being agile and adapting to new technology or emerging trends and fashions is important.  Kim Tairi, University Librarian at AUT calls it ‘Be like Bowie’.  David Bowie changed and moved with the times, always reinventing himself and staying awesome.  Keeping on the edge of the knowledge wave like this is our biggest challenge, especially when you don’t have limitless funds. 

What challenges can you see moving forward?

Staying relevant, funding and storage.  Doubt I need to expand on that because I imagine everyone in the GLAM sector is nodding right now!

What do you think people in the early stages of their careers can offer the sector?

New folks bring new ideas and ways of doing things, ideas, research, technology application and viewpoints that could be outside our current sphere.  Early stage folk are critical in staying in the game, it is important for people to challenge assumptions us ol’ timers may have made, open the doors we closed because of our experience ‘back then’.  (also remind us when we keep slipping into old patterns to deal with new issues)  Sure sometimes there will be good reason to not revisit certain things or do things the same way for 150 years but if you don’t have a fresh pair of eyes on it you risk just slowly travelling down a well-worn rut to irrelevance.  Combine that with they’re the future of the sector, they’re damn important!  

What is your spirit animal?

Typical boy response was a Wolf.  Typical Research librarian, googled up a quiz and became a Bear…  I’d be happy with eitherWould Bowie count as a spirit guide? (Ed note: Bowie absolutely counts as a spirit guide.)