This week, in our continuing mission to find out about the people behind LIANZA Conference 2009 we talk to Guy Field who has the not inconsiderable responsibility of determining what features on the programme for this year’s conference.
Kia ora Guy, could you start off by telling the nice people a little something about your library (or non-library) background?
I have been working in libraries for an embarrassingly long period of time. I started my library career as a “super numerary” (that dates me!) library assistant in School Library Services in Nelson in 1986, having returned from my OE needing to find a job and a vocation. I’ve never really looked back. Completed my Post Graduate Diploma in Librarianship at Victoria the following year, and then moved to Christchurch as a School Library Advisor with National Library. A highlight of this job was the trip all the way to Haast in the late model work car, to advise on school library development (they used to throw their weeded books into the swamp!).
A lowlight was cleaning out the Greymouth branch of School Library Service after the Grey River had once again flooded the town. However the novelty of driving around the middle of the South Island and staying in motels wore off after a few years, and I moved to the highly regarded library at Christchurch Polytechnic (as it was then) to work with luminaries such as Penny Carnaby, Mirla Edmundson and Rosemary Nicholls. Sixteen years later (where did the years go?) I decided it was time for a change, and I have been enjoying the challenges of information service delivery in the highly regarded Christchurch City Libraries since the beginning of 2008.
You’re the chair for the Programme sub-committee. What does that involve?
I’m still figuring this out, but so far it has involved working with a great team who make up the Programme sub-committee, identifying and approaching keynote speakers, and working with Conference Innovators on the call for abstracts. We have also drafted a programme outline, ensuring there is plenty of time for important things like morning and afternoon teas, lunches, awards ceremonies, LIANZA AGM, as well as speakers, workshops and all the other items that will hopefully make for a “kick ass” programme.
Right now we are looking into invited speakers, and looking forward to being swamped by abstracts when they close on 22 May. Then we will have the challenging task of trying to keep everybody happy, as we select what’s in and what’s not!
What sort of things do you take into account when it comes to choosing what will be on the programme?
It’s a delicate balancing act to say the least. We are looking for presentations that will be interesting, provocative, related to the theme, of interest to a wide cross section of the library profession, will stimulate and engage the audience, and are well presented. We are trying to achieve some geographic balance with our keynotes (eg not all of them are from the USA), gender balance, library sector balance, etc.
We’re also trying to develop some themes that were sown at last year’s conference in Auckland (eg around copyright and intellectual ownership), and that are topical both in terms of what is engaging the library profession in NZ and internationally, and in terms of the communities and societies in which we operate. For example, what does the current world and NZ economic situation mean for libraries and librarians, and how should we be responding to it? One of the challenges is trying to crystal ball gaze and guess what the hot topics might be in October 2009, given that our subcommittee has been meeting since the middle of last year.
What does the theme of this year’s conference “he tangata, he tangata, he tangata” mean to you?
I am really hoping that the programme will enable people to connect with each other, both within lots of highly interactive sessions, but also in the important time between sessions. I am keen for a strong focus on our customers and also on our profession, especially its future. I have had some contact with potential speakers on topics such as leadership development and succession planning, which I think are very important topics given the current demographic of librarians.
What do you do in your spare time?
What’s that? When I’m not running around after Emma (5 yrs) or James (3 yrs), you might find me running on Christchurch’s Port Hills, reading the newspaper (see below) or digging the garden. While not quite emulating The Good Life (yet), we have recently added Kate, Henrietta, Paris, Nadia & Onwe to our household (brown shaver chickens) and are enjoying a diet rich in quiche, scrambled egg, boiled egg, poached egg, anything egg.
Which literary character do you most relate to and why?
This is a tough question for an English lit graduate who is actually not a voracious reader of fiction! I am going to take a lateral approach, and purely on the basis of the Citroën cars they drive and a love of french cinema, nominate Gorodish from Diva and Zorg from Betty Blue.
We’ll be talking to Guy again next week as he guides us through the treacherous waters of, ba-ba-baahm, submitting an abstract!