GLAMR Professional Profile – Sally Pewhairangi

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Sally Pewhairangi has over 20 years experience in public libraries, and developed the first fully bilingual public library website in New Zealand.  She has her own business educating librarians and is now focused on helping librarians be the best they can be in all aspects of digital literacy through her website The Library Boss.

How did you get involved in the GLAMR sector?
I took an opportunity that enabled me to continue learning while I was unemployed. I had no library experience, I had no idea what library work involved and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. All I wanted was a job.

I applied to study by distance for a post graduate diploma in library and information studies and for some reason I was accepted. My classmates were my lifeline. They were all working in libraries and willingly shared their experiences and expertise with me. We met every week for two years and I am so very lucky that they were there to nurture me and encourage me to grow. Through them I met others, found a job and a place in
GLAMR sector.

What made you so passionate about digital literacy and why is it so important?
There are lots of little things that have evolved over time but they largely are based on three key factors. Firstly, my early library experience was in electronic resources, website development, and databases. The confidence and capabilities that are needed for these roles are very similar to what is required to be capable and confident in a digital world.

Secondly, I care about librarians (everyone who works in a library, qualified or not) more than I care about libraries. I believe in the power and potential of librarians, and the roles we can, should and do take in our communities. Digital literacy is a huge component of this.

And lastly, I’ve also spent some time training library staff across New Zealand and I’ve observed the gap between expectations and reality when it comes to growing and nurturing staff in things digital. I want to change that. I want all librarians to flourish with grace and flair.

If you could impart one digital skill or capability to all of our blog readers, what would it be?
Wonder and wander. Be curious and serendipitous.

If you had your time in the GLAMR sector again, what would you do differently?
Gosh, I don’t know!
I’ve had a few recent museum experiences that have made me wonder whether I should have gone into exhibition research and curation.

Finally, is there any advice you would like to give library students and new professionals?

  • Be yourself.
  • There doesn’t have to be a plan.
  • You don’t have to know what you’re doing.
  • There is always more than one solution to a problem.
  •  Look for the connections between things and people.
  •  Say ‘Hi’ to me on Twitter. It’s less scary than approaching someone you haven’t met before in real life, and it’s a great way to get to know people.

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