Tag Archives: November 2014

Choosing to Belong

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In 2007, LIANZA established the New Zealand Professional Registration scheme. The debate about the relevance, applicability and accessibility of this scheme continue to this day. I have chosen to be part of the ongoing conversation. These are my opinions, and my choices, and do not represent the views of my employers – past, present or future.

I choose to be a member of LIANZA. I choose to be Professionally Registered. I choose to participate in the LIANZA Mentor scheme. I choose to pay the cost of my annual association membership and ongoing Professional Registration fees.

My choices are based on a personal decision to engage with and participate in the wider library and information industry, independent of my employer. These choices allow me to be recognised by my peers and the wider industry, with regards to my professional commitment. There are many reasons behind my choices outlined above. They reflect the stage of my career, my geographical circumstances and my professional experiences. My choices may be very different from yours, or not.

Belonging and participating gives me choices.

I can choose to work for an employer who requires Professional Registration as part of a specific job profile, or I can choose not to.

I can choose my professional development activities based on an identified knowledge gap, or I can choose not to.

I can choose to develop my skills in a new professional knowledge area, or I can choose not to.

I can choose my professional development activities based on an identified knowledge gap, or I can choose not to.

I can choose to develop my skills in a new professional knowledge area, or I can choose not to.

Having a benchmark set by a professional association demonstrates to current and future employers that I have met, and/or maintain, a designated standard of professional behaviours. While it is not the only way for my abilities, skills and knowledge to be measured and judged, it is a clear starting point. As a current and future employee of library and information organisations, I can also use this benchmark as a way to inform my employment decisions. I can choose whether or not I want to work for or work with an organisation that supports and encourages the involvement of individuals with a Professional Association and/or the Professional Registration scheme.

There are other key reasons why I participate in the Professional Registration scheme.

Firstly, if I want to work overseas, being part of the Professional Registration scheme is a way to provide international recognition or equivalence of my professional experience.

Secondly, if I choose to change professions, I can demonstrate my commitment to a previous industry that is recognisable through the commonly understood terms of “Professional Association” and “Professional Registration”.

Thirdly, while Professional Registration is not yet embedded as an industry employment standard in New Zealand, this situation may change significantly within the next decade. In choosing to belong and participate, so I am consciously laying foundations for my future career options.

Professional Registration has forced me to consciously reflect, and commit to a viewpoint on a number of issues that previously I wouldn’t have focused on. Professional Registration has opened up my professional networks, given me opportunities and provoked discussion with colleagues. Professional Registration has given me choices.

I will continue to encourage new and recent graduates, to join the Professional Registration scheme, to be involved in the Professional Association, and to move into being a Mentor as their career progresses. I believe belonging and participating are a key ways for emerging professionals to engage with the profession; creating opportunities, developing networks, demonstrating commitment to being an active member of the profession.

It is also a way to establish an individual professional identity, independent of one’s current and future job(s) and employer(s). Individuals should have the option to reflect on their professional experiences, independent from organisational expectations.

We all have the choice to behave and act professionally, or not. We all have the choice to belong to a professional organisation, or not. We all have the choice to participate in the Professional Registration scheme, or not.


The Influence of Language and Culture

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There is a wide range of cultural, political, linguistic and socioeconomic reasons why this six word quotation may, or may not, be familiar:

To be or not to be.

Can you name the author of the play that contains these six words?  Can you identify the character who says these six words? Can you recite the monologue that begins with these six words?  What do these six words mean to you?

It makes me reflect on what exactly does it mean: to be? Is it the state of existence, and intrinsic state of being human? Does the state of being-ness mean different things to different cultures, expressed in different ways in different languages? How does the state of “being” affect our worldviews, depending on which language we express ourselves in?

In English, the verb “to be” is used in a wide variety situations. For example, I am cold, She is an astronaut, We are leaving. However, there are often a range of different verbs that are used to express the same statements in other languages. In French, there are a number of verbs used in place of the English equivalent of “to be”, including “être” (to be) or “avoir” (to have) or “faire” (to make), depending on the situation, the intent and the context of the statement.

Nuances of language and cultural context can often be some of the most difficult aspects to master when translating and working with different languages. Trying to explain colloquialisms and slang to someone who is learning another language can be funny, frustrating and confusing. Even between people whose first language is seemingly the same, regional variations can cause confusion and misunderstanding.

The simple request of “bring a plate” to a New Zealand get-together has confounded many English-speaking newcomers to New Zealand – it means to bring a plate of food, not to bring an empty plate.

How does language influence culture? 

How does culture influence language?

There can be a number of different ways to engage with your communities to discuss the intricacies and impact of language and culture, opening up the conversation opportunities across language and culture boundaries.

  • Does learning another language change the way you speak your first language?
  • What does it mean to be raised in a bilingual household?
  • Is humour culturally and linguistically specific? The humour in Outrageous Fortune feels quintessentially “Kiwi”, but this TV series has been to TV networks around the world, and local versions have been made in the UK and the USA.
  • Is there a Vietnamese equivalent of Shakespeare, and what impact did their work have on Vietnamese language and culture?
  • Why is there legislation that states that babies born in Iceland must be given forenames which do not conflict with the linguistic structure of the Icelandic language [1]?
  • What impact does choosing to publish in a language other than English have on academics and scholars in different fields of research?
  • How do Shakespearean plays “translate” into other languages? What is the same and/or different about the interpretations in each language? Do you have to understand the spoken, or signed, language to understand the dramatic sentiment being performed? How are costumes and stage design impacted by the different cultural settings?

Libraries can create events, develop programmes, curate resource lists and establish spaces where communities can explore the influence of language on culture and the influence of culture on language.

Open up your spaces to explore other worldviews.

[1] Personal Names Act (No. 45) (in English). Iceland: Ministry of the Interior. 17 May 1996

Put on Your Creative Goggles

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The Scenario

You turn up to work. The front door is locked. There is a sign for your customers – “The Library will re-open at midday.” You make your way in through a side entrance. All staff are expected to be at a full team meeting. There is only one item on the agenda: The organisation you work for is in financial crisis.

Instead of the anticipated annual budget increase, this year there is no more money.

There is no money for staff training or professional development opportunities. There is no extra money for operational costs. There is no budget for programmes, events or marketing projects. There will be no extra eResources purchased. The print collection will not be added to.

There is no more money, and significant efforts to cut existing costs will be made across the board. Although salaries and routine operational costs will be covered, there is no allocation for any additional expenses. No redundancies are anticipated, but vacancies are unlikely to be filled.

What’s your response?

Panic? Stunned silence? Fear? Do you start looking for another job?

Joy? Excitement? Enthusiasm? Are you excited by the possibilities?

Despite the anxiety and uncertainty, you could choose to view this experience as an unexpected gift to your staff and your community. You’ve been offered a rare opportunity to stop, reflect and look closely at your core reasons for being.

You’ve been given permission to tell your library’s story differently.

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