Well, I’ve now had a day to recover and collect my thoughts so I thought it would be time to do a write up on the LIANZA conference that I was fortunate to be able to attend.
I arrived at Christchurch on Sunday to a beautiful spring day, which flushed the annoyances of having delayed flights, due to Air NZ’s network being down, right out of my mind. I met up with Jo and we shared a taxi to the hotel we were staying at. We then went and registered for the conference and while Jo had a meeting I made use of the free wifi at the conference centre. Following an early dinner we spent the evening finishing off the presentation and deciding who would say what.
The day started with a powhiri, and then Hana and Tipene O’Regan spoke, talking about intergenerational knowledge transmission and the endangered state of Kai Tahu reo. It was a great talk, and the byplay between the two of them was something special. Richard Stallman was up next talking about copyright vs community, he made some very salient points and while I don’t think everyone got it , a lot of people did. It was something I think the library world needed to hear and to keep in mind whenever they are making purchasing decisions.
Keeping with the sharing and empowerment of people through knowledge theme, I went to hear Terehia Biddle from Archives NZ, to talk about the role they play, and about engaging successfully with Maori. She also made a lot of great points, two that I remember well were
breakdowns in relationships are caused by egos getting in the way, and by people unable to admit they are wrong
competency in te reo me tikanga adds to your credibility
Following lunch, I went to listen the Brenda Chawner talk about online identities, and how people are using them for personal and professional usage. Nathan Guy was supposed to be speaking next, but he couldn’t make it, and since there is only one thing worse than a politician reading their speech and that is another politician reading their speech for them, I ducked out and did some Koha work instead.
To finish the day off, Brenda, Jo, Richard Stallman and I went off to a Bangladeshi restaurant to have dinner. Topics of conversation covered were
- Software as a Service
- Kea (and other NZ birds)
- The use of passive tense in te reo Maori
All in all, some of the best food and conversation I have had in a while.
I missed the Keynote on Tuesday, everyone said Claudia Lux spoke well, so I will have to read others reports on her talk. I was busy panicking slightly about Jo and I presenting at 10.
From what I can tell, the presentation went well and was well received, I felt it was rushed but that we managed to communicate the points we were trying to get across. I spent a good chunk of the rest of the day with Jo doing demos so I can only take that as a good sign.
After morning tea, and some quick Koha demos I went to listen to Dennis Dutton talk about “Evolution and Aesthetics” and no disrepect to the other speakers or topics but this was definitely my highlight of the conference. I had decided to buy his book ‘The Art Instinct’ within about 5 mins of him starting and by the end I wanted to race out and buy it right then and read it right away. I won’t try to report what he was talking about, as I won’t do it justice, but do read the book if you ever get the chance.
The rest of the day was spent talking about and demoing Koha. To finish the day off, it was the informal conference dinner and drinking at a variety of bars and restaurants in SOL square (a recently redeveloped couple of lanes). It was a lot of fun, good people, good music, good food and good beer. Ticked all the boxes. And between dancing and drinking I still ended up talking about Koha, which I take as a really good sign there is a lot of interest in it.
The final day of the conference started with Penny Carnaby (The National Librarian) talking about citizen created content, and the importance of not losing it. Both Koha and Kete got a shout out in her speech. Following her was Jessica Dorr from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Her heart was definitely in the right place and there is no doubt the gates foundation does do a lot of good around the world. The cynic in me sees it as training the next generation of Microsoft dependent users though.
I didn’t get to any of the next sessions before lunch, I ended up doing another Koha demo and talking to others about it.
To finish the conference was Tim Spalding of Librarything fame, he covered a lot in his talk and made the point that if libraries want to get to web 1.0 let alone web 2.0 they need to go with free and open source software.
So while the conference is still dominated by proprietary and locked down software, I think this conference was a big step up from previous LIANZA conferences. I didn’t have to explain Free Software to people before I could start talking about Koha, they already knew what it was (even if they called it open source ;)). It was a really good conference, well organised and well executed, but of course what made it so great was all the people who attended.