New Zealand News

By Catherine Thomas

Recently returned from the IASL Conference, Catherine Thomas shares her Jamaican Experience.

As the only New Zealand representative, it was great to see some Australian colleagues at the 25th Annual Conference of the International Association of School Librarianship - held at the Renaissance Jamaica Grande Resort in Ochio Rios, Jamaica earlier this month.

Sustaining the Vision: Library Imperatives for the 21st Century was the theme and the Conference as a whole did sustain the vision. The opening ceremony was spectacular and seeing the Australian and New Zealand flags carried in was a real thrill.

Mrs Helen Stills delivered the Keynote Paper: Sustaining the Vision stressing that teachers and librarians must be respected and thus reimbursed sufficiently so that we are seen to be important in our society. The conditions of school librarians and all library staff must be addressed and educating authorities need to be aware that the quality of education is proportional to the quality of the provider.

While problems exist everywhere, I enjoyed the Open Assembly of Associations as it was great to hear of developments in other countries. Will School Libraries all become Virtual Libraries presented by Sandra Olen from South Africa, proved interesting and was discussed at length. The annual Weston Woods Lecture was delivered by Isabel Gomez from Chile who highlighted the importance of integrating all media formats into the learning process. While it's important to attend all Papers, each delegate was given a print handout of each one delivered which we appreciated.

It was great to see Australians feature in the awards - maybe NZ's turn next. Lyn Hay and James Henri with Dianna Oberg picked up the IASL/Softlink 25th Anniversary Research grant for their topic: Principal's Role in Developing and Supporting an Information Literate School. Jean E. Lowrie, retiring Executive Secretary, has served IASL for 25 years and was honoured with a presentation of the publication Sustaining the Vision: A collection of Articles and Papers on Research in School Librarianship, edited bu Laurel A. Clyde for IASL.

Softlink also made a presentation of a software system to Westwood High School. I was able to visit their library on one of the day trips and to see their pride and joy! Several New Zealand schools, including my own, use the Oasis software so it was great to see the MS WINDOWS version of Alice amongst the exhibitors.

As with all great conferences, there were so many experiences to write about. Meeting people from all around the world with the same interests made this a most memorable event. I have made many new friends and now value their contact through e-mail.

We are fortunate in New Zealand with the facilities we have build bur the same problems exist everywhere - lack of funding, low status and poorly paid librarians, keeping up with technology as well as a shortage of teachers.

Hopefully this is the first of many IASL Conferences I'll attend.

Catherine Thomas


Shirley Boys' High School