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LIANZA 2023 Conference: Day One Highlights


Aleisha Amohia, Koha Technical Lead at Catalyst IT smiles as she wears her LIANZA nametag

Te Rau Herenga o Aotearoa, Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa Conference is one of the largest gatherings for librarians and information professionals in New Zealand. For the first time since 2019, it was kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face).

Aleisha Amohia is the Technical Lead for Rōpū kohinga at Catalyst IT. Rōpū kohinga care for collections through technology. Libraries will know Aleisha best for her work on Koha Library Management system over the last 9 years. Aleisha is excited to be at Te Pae Convention Centre in Ōtautahi, Christchurch for the three-day event and is sharing some of her highlights from day one.

LIANZA 2023 day one insights

Keynotes and presentations

1. Libraries are vital for connecting people to knowledge Richard Misilei, LIANZA President, opened the conference with the statement:

“Libraries are not good at tooting our own horn and demonstrating the value we know we provide to communities.”

The wave of clicks and nods around the room demonstrated the 400 librarians and information professionals in attendance agreed.

Professor Rangi Mātāmua presents his keynote at LIANZA 2023

2. Knowledge is worthless if not shared

In a following keynote, Professor Rangi Mātāmua, Professor of Mātauranga Māori at Massey University said “knowledge is worthless if not shared.”

He added the purpose of libraries and librarians is to broaden understandings of the world. This was a key theme throughout the day one presentations. Essentially, if stories are bridges, windows, and mirrors to culture, identity, history, and communities, then libraries are vital spaces in society. And, librarians are necessary to connect people to knowledge.

That means, libraries also have a responsibility to ensure their spaces are safe and accessible. This was further explored in a number of the day one presentations. There were tips shared for protecting the physical space of libraries from the rising number of protesters and challengers of media. For example, books with LGTBQIA+ content, or content about race and ethnicity. LIANZA is publishing a toolkit on their website to provide this support to libraries and schools. Additionally, Trish Hepworth (Australian Library and Information Association) and Louise LaHatte (LIANZA Standing Committee on Freedom of Information) pointed out that while it may be a risk and require extra preparation to hold space for Rainbow events and content in your library, reducing support and visibility of these initiatives by not holding them at all would result in worse outcomes.

3. The whakapapa of information

A few presentations also discussed the whakapapa of information. They covered how much of today’s attitudes and narratives can draw from:

  • Existing, embedded misinformation or,
  • deliberately harmful framing.

Dr Hana O’Regan (Ngāi tahu) has worked in the areas of language revitalisation, identity, and cultural development, te reo Māori and education for over 25 years. Dr Regan introduced the concept of ‘coloniality’. Colonialty was described as:

“The set of attitudes, values, ways of knowing, and power structures upheld as normative by western colonising societies and serving to rationalise and perpetuate western dominance.”

The strong message was that Libraries in Aotearoa New Zealand need to acknowledge they are historically colonial institutions.

We need to accept that knowledge is not neutral – it is cultural. It is political. And, it is formed from world views that have not always been unbiased, authentic, fairly concluded or distributed. So, by knowing these things, libraries also have a duty to understand the information they are sharing and be intentional about how they share it. Māia Abraham (Ngā Kete Wānanga o Ōtautahi, Christchurch City Libraries, and Distinguished Professor) noted libraries should establish what’s in their realm of control. Then, they should ask questions around authentic partnership and intellectual ownership. Particularly when taking responsibility for the distribution and safekeeping of Indigenous information and stories.

Another highlight was hearing Dahlia Malaeulu from Mila’s Books sharing the success of the Pasifika Navigators book project. This project is a beautiful, truly authentic, and empowering way to collect stories from young Pasifika people and share them with the world.

LIANZA 2023 panellists discuss the freedom of misinformation – equity or harm

Closing with creative writing

To close the program, award winning author Dr Gigi Fenster led a condensed creative writing workshop to demonstrate how every story is about blood, money, and wants. It also demonstrated how to explore your characters and dig out those concepts to give a more genuine voice to your writing.

Aleisha Amohia, Koha Technical Lead at Catalyst IT smiles as she wears her LIANZA nametag

LIANZA 2023: Wrapping up day one

The themes explored on day one at the LIANZA 2023 Conference were intense, interesting, and thought provoking. Aleisha is looking forward to what the next two days have in store.

On day two, Aleisha will be joined by Chris Cormack, Catalyst IT Kaihuawaere Matihiko, and one of the original Koha developers. Together they will host a presentation entitled ‘ka mua, ka muri’. Their kōrero (discussion) will explore what tikanga Māori looks like in open source software and the overlaps with libraries, supported by their experiences working with the Koha library system and community.

Check out the full LIANZA 2023 line up of keynote speakers, presentations, and workshops.

Rōpū kohinga are represented at LIANZA to hear about what is important in your organisations so we can better support you with your collections – whether it is a repository, archive, or library.

Chat with our team if you need support to care for your collections through technology.