Our librarians of Aotearoa feature is hitting the road! Eliza Jackson is a Mobile Librarian with the Mobile and Access services for Auckland Libraries. As a fluent speaker in te reo Māori, Eliza spends her time bringing the library to kura kaupapa, kōhanga reo and marae around Tāmaki makaurau, and her ultimate dream is to be able to fill the bus with pukapuka i te reo Māori.
What do you do, and what inspired you to take up this role?
I’m a Mobile Librarian in the Mobile and Access services for Auckland Council and I joined the team in February this year (2021). My colleagues were already doing great mahi in prisons, early childcare centres, schools, rural areas and with elderly and homebound patrons, and it confirmed for me that that library work isn’t confined to the walls of a building. The focus of my role is te reo Māori engagement, so I do outreach to kura kaupapa, kōhanga reo, marae and so on.
…library work isn’t confined to the walls of a building
What is your philosophy around children’s literature?
I always encourage kids to think outside of and around the concept of books when we talk about literature. Recently a group of students produced a list of 109 different ways of communicating and sharing kōrero. I feel that encapsulates Ngā Pātaka Kōrero o Tāmaki Makaurau – that we are caretakers of knowledge and resources – not just whare pukapuka – houses for books. I read for pleasure and love to share my hobbies, but I also know kids have other options and demands on their time. Video games are wonderful at storytelling and involve just as much critical thinking as parsing a crime thriller, so I’m happy to chat with kids about whatever media currently holds their interest.
Tell us about your typical day
There is no typical day for a Mobile Librarian – we work with so many different people that we have to be ready for change at any moment. On a day that I’m out and about, I’ll pick up my vehicle from its parking spot in the morning then travel to wherever I’m delivering that day. It might be a full day wānanga on poetry at a school, or a storytime at a kōhanga reo, or parking up at a cultural event to promote our services. I know that every person on the team will be doing something completely different too, so it’s varied upon varied for us.
It might be a full day wānanga on poetry at a school, or a storytime at a kohanga reo, or parking up at a cultural event to promote our services.
You are the only te reo speaking librarian in your team, correct? How does this help you in your role?
I am very lucky that as a pākehā child I was able to attend kura in Whaingaroa (Raglan) and learn te reo and ngā tikanga o te ao Māori. E kore e mutu ngā mihi for the gift the people of Whaingaroa gave me. I’m now able to support our amazing Māori specialist staff in delivering equitably the resources to which all the people of Tāmaki are entitled. All public organisations need people who speak Māori and understand tikanga to fulfil the responsibilities they hold under Te Tiriti. I’m proud to be able to uphold the partnership, even if all I achieve in the grand scheme is that we have story-time in Māori as well as English.
What do we need more of with regard to publishing in Aotearoa?
I would love to see more leisure reading published in te reo Māori. There are lots of picture books and plenty of first-word board books, but when it comes to progressing reading there’s a huge gap. I can’t offer my kids early chapter books, teen romances, or cool graphic novels in te reo and it makes it hard for me to say that there is a place for everyone in the book world. The dream is to be able to fill my vehicle with Māori literature – but I have no idea when or if that will ever happen.
I can’t offer my kids early chapter books, teen romances, or cool graphic novels in te reo and it makes it hard for me to say that there is a place for everyone in the book world.
Eliza Jackson has been a Mobile Librarian with the Mobile and Access services for Auckland Libraries, since Feb 2021. She attended attended kura in Whaingaroa (Raglan) and learnt te reo and ngā tikanga o te ao Māori.