I love pretty much anything GLAM related, and the National Digital Forum is no exception. This year’s NDF was my second time there and I wasn’t disappointed. My biggest take-away this year was around the need for continuous professional development.
One of the many things that struck me about Takerei Norton’s wonderful keynote on Ngāi Tahu’s Mapping Project, was when he mentioned going to a kaumātua for advice and how he was “barked at” for effectively not knowing his place. This was one of a number of instances that made me think about the opportunities, development of knowledge and changes that people see over their careers.
At the moment here in Christchurch, we are planning for our New Central Library and professional development is something we are wrestling with. Every time this issue was touched on it really stood out to me. Kara Kennedy spoke about the lack of digital literacy skills being taught in arts and humanities at university and Julia Kaganskiy spoke of the lack of digital and entrepreneurial skills of arts graduates. So there may be a gap in some areas between what new entrants can do and what we need them to be able to do.
But the issue isn’t just at entry level. Leith Haarhoff and Tyler Benson spoke about a collaborative project between Palmerston North Libraries and the engineering department at Massey University to get children interested in STEM topics, whereby they run technology projects in public libraries with the aim of making a rocket or something similar. One point Leigh made was that we want these technologies in libraries, but how are our staff getting the relevant skills?
Having time set aside and locked in for continuous professional development should be a core part of everyone’s work life where ever they are in their career. AnyQuestions is a live chat site where librarians assist students with their homework with the specific aim of to teaching them information and digital literacy. At LIANZA a few years ago the service manager Robert Baigent spoke about the idea of the ‘fearless librarian’ – where librarians are happy to jump into answering any questions in a specifically digital space. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all those in the GLAM sector had the confidence and maybe more importantly the support to jump into any digital situation with enthusiasm and an open mind?