The past month of my life has been pretty awesome.
I’m back from my travels, most un-jet lagged, and ready to take on the world again.
Long before libraries came into view my wife and I spoke about New Zealand a lot. We wanted to move there so that she could go to midwifery school. To us, it was a magical place full of wonder, beauty, and kind people. Well, I’m happy to report now that I’ve been there that everything we thought was true. The people, the views, and the atmosphere in New Zealand is top notch.
If you were to analyze this blog you’d see that the most frequently used word is community. That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about New Zealand and the LIANZA 2015 conference. Even though there were well over 500 attendees at this conference it still felt like a family of like minded individuals coming together to share and learn from each other. It was a beautiful thing. No other conference that I’ve been to starts with a pōwhiri. Imagine about 500 people gathering outside of the conference venue and then being led into the space by Maori leaders. There was singing! There was storytelling! There was dancing! It was the coming together of amazing people to share an amazing story. I’d post a video but it wouldn’t do it justice. You had to be there.
If you have the chance to visit New Zealand DO NOT TURN DOWN THE OFFER. Go there, soak it in, and grow a little bit. It’s even better if you can go to a LIANZA conference while you’re there. Yes, I did just say that. An actual library conference with true, genuine worth. LIANZA is it my friends.
I just have to put out some love before I move on from NZ: Jerome, Rachael, Ned, Ines, Jess, Sarah, Michael, and all of the other people who I spent a lot of my time with: FAMILY AND FRIENDS! That’s what we are now. Thank you for everything.
Next on the agenda was Australia, where I spent 8 days in Sydney and Brisbane. I was a guest of both the State Library of New South Wales and the State Library of Queensland. I gave a few talks (I’d post my slides here but what good are slides without the stories?), met a load of amazing people, saw some amazing libraries (the State Library of Queensland and the Edge are BEAUTIFUL!), and in general my head and my heart grew. I caught up with my good friend Warren Cheetham in Brisbane. It was so wonderful to see him and walk around the city. That man is my Australian brother and no matter where we are it will always be great to come together. In Sydney, I finally met my longtime Twitter friends Ellen Forsyth, Mylee Joseph, and Katrina McAlpine. In person, they were just as lovely and amazing as they were on Twitter. Authentic, real people. That’s what I am talking about. Isn’t that emerging as a theme in this blog post? That’s what this trip was about. Authenticity. The people of NZ and Australia are about as authentic as you get, and I think all of us can learn from them.
And libraries! Of course I visited libraries. The Katoomba Library was one of my favorites. Why you ask? Well because it showed me physical proof of something that I’ve been thinking about recently…public libraries need to breathe! It was refreshing to see a building that was not super heavy on packing physical items into the library and instead focused on providing PEOPLE with the space they need. Chairs, desks, tables, couches, and more were EVERYWHERE. The collections on the shelf had space…for more materials and for easier browsing. This is the way public libraries are going. They are a place for the people to visit, share, and connect.
Traveling always leads to personal growth. If you’re not getting that out of your travels, you must be doing it wrong. You’ve gotta look around at all the little things: the signs, the trees, and the birds. You see just how small this world that we live in really is. We’re all connected. Some of the details may be a bit different but in the end you start to see that this is all the same. We are one.
I came back to Titusville, PA with nothing but love waiting for me inside of my home. As much as I enjoy traveling, there is no better place to be than in the arms of Haley, Finn, and Aero. Life is awesome. The biggest thing I learned on this trip? These three and our home is all that I need.
ChurchHouse HouseChurch is now Fidelia Hall, which will eventually house the Titusville Creativity Center. Like any good idea these days, we’ve already got the Facebook page all set up and ready to go. Winter is here and it’s time to heat the building. That’s the first step. You’ll be hearing more about this in 2016.
The cold weather and snow also gives everyone a good time to hunker down, put on some pajamas, and prepare for 2016. I hope all of you reading this can do just that. Enjoy Thanksgiving and all of the other upcoming holidays. We all deserve to slow down a bit.