In five words, describe your place in the sector.
Connecting our members with opportunities
What first drew you to the sector i.e. Do you have a particular memory of a moment that got you hooked?
Mine is the classic story of falling into libraries. After I finished high school my original plan was to head to Dunedin and study Occupational Therapy. However I wanted to take a gap year and ended up getting a job in my hometown at the Oamaru Public Library because I “liked reading”. I had no clue what was actually involved in being a librarian but it didn’t take me long to become hooked!
I worked at the library in various roles, the most recent being Social Media and Digital Support Librarian, for six and a half years. Last year I accepted a position with LIANZA (Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator.
What challenges have you faced in your career so far?
The main challenge for me so far has been geographical isolation. Obviously, things are a lot different now that I’m based in Wellington, but living in Oamaru posed some problems on the networking and professional development front. Even with the amazing technology we have, the distance does make it more difficult to attend regional meetings or national conferences and to network with other librarians. There are ways around it though. Social media made things a lot easier and I still found ways to stay involved on a national level by applying for and participating in the LIANZA Emerging Leaders programme in 2015 which was mostly delivered online and becoming the Library Life (our national library magazine) editor. I was also on the LIANZA Otago/Southland regional committee which provided me with an opportunity to hear about the library sector from a more strategic view point.
Has anything or anyone in particular provided you with support?
I have been incredibly lucky and have had really supportive and involved managers so far. My first boss really made the effort to provide me with opportunities to extend myself and build networks around the country. He also mentored me informally and I learnt a lot about management (an area I hope to move into) from him. My current manager is also amazing. She has faced a lot of challenges as a manager and has so much wisdom that she’s willing to share. I appreciate the honesty she gives me and also her commitment to challenge the status quo in senior leadership.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had awesome colleagues who have been nothing but encouraging and supportive of my career. Even if you don’t have people in your work life who are supportive, you can create those networks yourself. I’m a big believer in mentoring and have had several mentors over the last few years. Don’t be afraid to approach someone who you admire and ask if you can chat about your career. It doesn’t have to be a formal mentoring relationship either, or even in the same field that you’re working. My last mentor was the Emergency Services Manager at the district council and I gained so much perspective and insight into management from our meetings.
What do you think people at your own level (emerging etc) bring to the sector?
In my experience, it’s having fresh ideas for programmes or projects that we are really passionate about and can implement with little or no time, budget etc. I think people who identify as an emerging leader have a lot of tenacity. They’re usually aiming for a really specific job role or level in their organisation and they’re just working like Trojans to achieve that goal.
What is a positive change you would like to see in the sector?
I’d like to see a focus on supporting emerging leaders to aim for senior management roles. It’s really important to future proof the sector and ensure we have strong leaders ready to continue the vital work of libraries. The library sector is definitely heading in the right direction. LIANZA created the Emerging Leaders programme which has already started identifying and empowering library leaders since its inception in 2015. I’d also really like to see senior managers taking the time to mentor emerging leaders and help them hone their skills.
What is your karaoke song?
Can I have two?! Listen to Your Heart by Roxette and Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard.