NZ Sign Language & Libraries

I find when I am enjoying the gentle warm rain of the shower at night, the steaminess enveloping me in a foggy cloud from the world, my mind drifts back to random episodes out of the past.

For whatever reason, my train of thought wandered back to the day I was on desk and helping a woman who was Deaf.  She was able to communicate what she needed me to do, but I remember feeling my own failure in not being able to make the exchange easier for her; expressly, my lack of knowledge in NZ Sign Language.

Once I was nicely warm in my pyjamas, I set to researching courses in NZ Sign Language on the internet.  In particular, I wanted to ascertain if there were courses tailored for libraries and the kinds of conversations one is likely to have with patrons.

It takes time to become proficient in any new language – but what if there was a course that would teach library staff the signs to say such things as:

·         Kia ora, how are you?

·         Would you like help finding something?

·         Would you like me to renew this book?

·         We need to update your address details

…And so forth.

I remember at the public library we did have a lady come in and teach us how to sign a few simple phrases, but what I had in mind was a slightly more intensive course – perhaps six sessions – which would be of specific and practical use.

 Are there such courses available?  Is this a feasible idea?  I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts and comments on this.

 At the moment I am trying to self-learn a little from this website: http://nzsl.vuw.ac.nz/

‘My’ public library

I have this unfailing optimism when it comes to public libraries.This seems to be in spite of all of the terrible stories I’ve heard from wonderful people working today in New Zealand public libraries whose skills and hard work are either ignored or disrespected by their councils. I could be disheartened that in 2012 the Local Government (Public Libraries) Amendment Bill was not passed which would have meant that public library services would by law have to be free. I could also be nervous about where the future of New Zealand public libraries is going if I were to compare it with the situation in the United Kingdom where professional library services are being replaced with volunteer run libraries again discounting the profession of librarianship. But all I can see is the promise there.

To me a public library is more than a book depository, I like to think of it as the hub for the community. Yes, I do think it should be where people come if they would like to get a book to read for either pleasure or advice but it can also be more than that. The community could also borrow other hard to get or expensive items such as sewing machines or instruments. Or possibly even amalgamate with the toy library so the library becomes this sort of one stop shop for community needs.  I also believe it would be of value to have community rooms which groups could book for free. As computers and internet services have become increasingly important possibly there could be a bookable computer room for classes such as senior net and job searching. Maybe it could even have the information centre attached because in my experience the library seems to be the first place travelers come anyhow. I have no idea how this would all work and you know what it possibly wouldn’t but public libraries to me have so much promise I find it impossible not to dream.

Now I know this has a lot to do with the fact I’m still relatively new to the library profession. I have only been working in libraries for five years now and I’ve only been studying for my professional qualifications for one of those. I guess my enthusiasm has yet to be beaten down. What library employee hasn’t heard the refrain why do we need libraries in the age of the great and powerful Google? It made me tired just writing the question let alone answering it yet again. I feel like we have a right to feel tired as we are expected to constantly justify our very existence what feels like daily. But for the many that actually use library services they realise the value of our jobs and appreciate the work we do. Every time a patron tells me they have enjoyed a service I have provided makes it worth the effort I put in and helps generate the optimism I feel. I know what I want from a public library isn’t for everyone so in the comment section tell us what your ideal library would look like.