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Old Bottles and New Wine

Published in Library Life, December 2002, Page 6:

I was picked up from a balmy spring afternoon in the Waikato to be dropped off in Wellington. No need to elaborate on the fulfilling fresh air thrust in my direction! After catching up with some wannabe Hamiltonians (or do they just have no ambition?) on the Sunday night, it was straight into the LIANZA 'Winds of Change' 2002 Conference. Following an entertaining and interactive powhiri Whatarangi Winiata provided a pertinent reminder of our responsibilities in looking after the repositories of ropu tuku iho and the conflict between open access and privacy.

Then, with delightfully pithy wit, Strathclyde Digital Librarian Derek Law outlined an holistic approach to proactively producing an information product to drive out the bad information systems - such as publishers, Google, the market.

After lunch with the sprightly Barbara Frame, the IT-SIG workshop provided insightful gems from Brian Flaherty on multi-protocol searching, linking technology and local digital collections, from Tim Darlington on the pitfalls of providing remote access to licensed resources, and from Paul Sutherland on providing public library services over the Internet.

Monday evening was spent 'net-working' at the MLIS Alumni function and the National Library 'drinks' with Sue Guest. This did not, however, deter me from being captivated by Susan Kent's rousing pep talk about her experiences as the Los Angeles librarian the following morning. This was followed by the upbeat LIANZA AGM, and it's certainly encouraging to see the organisation in such fine fettle. A free lunch with the indomitable Amanda Cossham was followed by the Interloans workshop led by Janice Farrelly and David Reid. ISO protocols, rules about e-documents and best practice were all bandied about to much mutual learning.

Lantern-jaw Larry Prusak then proceeded to pound the plenary lectern with his wisdom about knowledge. Persuasion, wit, design, entertainment, bullshit - knowledge - is where the future lies for high-wage economies. You can't manage it - but you can provide the mechanisms for its flow between one human and the next.

Big ups to the Lounge Suits for providing superb entertainment at the Gala Dinner, Ruth Pretty for the mouth-watering tucker, and New Zealand librarians for the superb companionship.

Chris Batt woke me up the following morning with his subtle intimations about how librarians can provide social transformation through personal development as well as some of the remarkable achievements of the People's Network in the UK such as Though my neurons were about all worn out by the uptake of information I nevertheless found the wrapping up of the conference by Derek Law inspiring. New Zealand's strength is that it's small and potentially swift. We must make use of the current tumultuous environment to cement our 'old bottle' strengths into the 'new wine' of the future.


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