What a ride! Can I just say that the last two years as SLANZA President have been in turns and sometimes all at once: busy, rewarding, full-on, frightening, stressful, exciting, challenging, satisfying …… (and more!)
I vividly remember my first SLANZA (School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) National Executive meeting, straight after the very successful Nelson mini-conference in 2006. I was so nervous! I had incredibly big Bridget-Schaumann-shoes to fill and was questioning what on earth I had to offer. I was also a little daunted at who I was sitting round the table with: Liz Probert, Adaire Hannah, Johnann Williams, Di Eastwood, Joyce Richards, Kaaren Hirst and Jan Matthews. Heather Manning was the LIANZA Rep and Dyane Hosler was the National Library Rep. I can’t imagine a better group of mentors. The Dream Team of education-focused librarians.
I was astonished at the range of projects and the amount of work we managed to juggle and just how hard everyone worked. SLANZA is a fantastic organisation which punches above its weight as we do our best to meet the needs of the members, advocate for the changes we know are vital for our profession and represent our interests at every available opportunity. And that is one of the only things that remain unchanged in the ensuing 6 years. The face of National Executive has had a complete change. I’m the only one still there from that group in 2006. Fresh blood is good – necessary even, but so is continuity and it’s encouraging to see the new team building and developing.
One of our challenges ahead as an Executive will be to harness the myriad of digital opportunities available to us. This work has already begun with the SLANZA Wiki and the first stage of the SLANZA website redevelopment completed. We need to work smarter in providing support to our members and the wider library community and I see the key to this is what we can deliver and how we interact in our growing digital environment. For all of that and the can of worms that it is, for me our real strength as an organisation is our people. What a wealth of knowledge, experience, enthusiasm, strengths and ideas we have and my personal vision has always been to attempt to connect all of this together for our collective benefit. Every one of us has something to offer, some skill we can share, some wonderfully wacky or massive or daunting idea brewing away. To scoop all of this up and have every person contribute in whatever way they are able is our ideal.
So people, talk to each other, dream together, don’t assume someone else will do it or do it better. You are all awesome and if we flock together we will achieve amazing things. Let’s keep the discussions going that developed at conference, let’s begin the new discussions as our brains open up to even more possibilities. Don’t think it can’t be done – instead, discuss it with your flock-mates, talk to your local SLANZA representative, email Fiona or myself, post your idea to the list-serve and be an active part of the excitement that is school libraries in the 21st century.