Thanks to a partnership between the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) and the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (SLANZA), tertiary grants are available for anyone who wants to complete a tertiary library qualification. School librarian and grant recipient Zac McCallum tells us more about the amazing opportunities provided by this scheme.
Straight out of high school, I decided I wanted to become a primary school teacher. I went through three years of training before figuring out that being a teacher wasn’t for me. There were some parts of teaching that I really enjoyed, especially being able to share my love of books with children. After making the decision to leave Teachers’ College, I needed a different direction. I loved books and working with children, so I decided that I wanted to become a children’s librarian. At that stage, becoming a school librarian wasn’t an option, as there were few jobs available and the pay was poor (though, thanks to the hard work of the New Zealand Educational Institute Union, this has now changed). I would hopefully be able to get there eventually, but the public library system was the most viable option. I would need to be working towards a library qualification, and this is where Te Pūkenga—Open Polytechnic came in.
Over the course of five years, working as a bookseller, a tertiary library assistant, and a children’s library assistant, I completed my Library and Information Studies degree. The flexibility of the Library and Information Studies qualifications offered by Te Pūkenga allowed me to learn about my profession while working. Librarians across the motu are now able to apply for grants to complete tertiary library qualifications, thanks to a partnership between our two professional library organisations—the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA), and SLANZA—the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa.
Librarians across the motu are now able to apply for grants to complete tertiary library qualifications, thanks to a partnership between our two professional library organisations
The LIANZA SLANZA Tertiary Grants are available to anyone who is currently working in the library and information space, or who would like to take their first steps into the sector. These grants provide funding for course fees, but consideration is also given to funding other costs, such as childcare, accommodation, travel, technology, and research-related expenses. If you’re someone like me, who has decided that they want a change of study or career, these grants are the perfect opportunity. You could be studying towards a library qualification while you’re working in a library, learning the practical and the theoretical aspects of the profession at the same time. You could currently be in a different career with a view to move into the library profession. You might even be a seasoned professional who is looking to take the next step in your library career.
When studying my library qualifications through Te Pūkenga, the most engaging and enjoyable papers that I studied were those that make up the New Zealand Certificate in Library and Information Services for Children and Teens (Level 6). These papers opened my eyes to both the library services that we provide for children and teens, as well as the wide range of literature available for this part of our community. When I first started my qualifications, I wasn’t working in the library sector, but studying helped me confirm that I’d made the right choice.
If you’re someone like me, who has decided that they want a change of study or career, these grants are the perfect opportunity
Kylie Smith, the Library Coordinator at Manurewa High School, is currently studying towards the New Zealand Certificate in Library and Information Services for Children and Teens (Level 6). One of the benefits of studying while working in the profession is being able to put into practice the theory that you learn in the course.
“It’s nice to have the professional learning that supports the mahi I’m doing, and the learning has given me new skills and ideas that I can apply every day,” says Kylie “Knowing that I am continuing that learning journey, modelling it to our students, and being able to better serve our rangatahi and kura, that inspires me.”
“It’s nice to have the professional learning that supports the mahi I’m doing”—Kylie Smith, Library Coordinator at Manurewa High School
You may be put off studying because of the cost, especially if you are supporting a family. But, as Kylie can attest to, a Tertiary Grant takes care of this. “The New Zealand Certificate in Library and Information Services for Children and Teens (Level 6) was not a qualification I would have been able to complete without the LIANZA SLANZA Tertiary Grant, as StudyLink assistance isn’t available for this qualification.”
Victoria Elisara, the librarian at Glendowie School in Auckland, is another school librarian who is studying towards her Diploma in Library and Information Studies (Level 5) from Te Pūkenga. Victoria is a recipient of a LIANZA SLANZA Tertiary Grant, and she is incredibly grateful of the opportunity that the grant has given her.
“I really thought the opportunity to study had passed me by,” says Victoria, “but this grant has changed all that. I am so excited for the future now and would love to continue to study and share my growing knowledge.”
Victoria also highlights the benefits of putting the theory from her study into practice. “Sharing what I am learning with the students and staff has been amazing,” she says. “I have really loved using the information I’ve learned and absorbing it in ‘real time’ in our library. I am literally studying at night and heading to school the next day and putting what I’ve learned into action—whether it’s thinking about ‘touchpoints’ to get information about the library out to our school and community, developing a culturally responsive space and collection, or thinking about how our students gather and process information.”
“I really thought the opportunity to study had passed me by, but this grant has changed all that”—Victoria Elisara, librarian at Glendowie School
As a school librarian, many people think that you just issue and return books, but as Victoria points out, “There is so much more to being a librarian than just issuing books.” As well as promoting and encouraging reading for pleasure, school librarians play a vital role in teaching information literacy skills. Tailored for the students’ year level, school librarians may guide students on web evaluation, lateral reading, identifying misinformation, and using algorithms to help discern accurate and trustworthy online sources and build critical thinking skills. Clare Forrest, Raroa Normal Intermediate Library Manager (and one of my librarian idols) talks about the importance of being role models of learning:
“Fundamentally, we’re educators, and [we] should always be learning alongside our students—it empowers them.”
Working towards a library qualification can also help you gain the confidence to tackle new challenges. Julia Smith, a qualified librarian at Kerikeri High School, says that she “wouldn’t be the librarian I am today without getting my library qualification. I gained knowledge and confidence to manage a high-functioning school library and to join the SLANZA National Executive.”
Studying towards my library qualifications changed the course of my life and has led to many amazing opportunities
If you are considering tertiary study towards a library qualification, I implore you to apply for a LIANZA SLANZA Tertiary Grant. Studying towards my library qualifications changed the course of my life and has led to many amazing opportunities in a range of library roles. For more information and to apply for a grant, check out the Libraries Aotearoa website. The next funding round opens in October, with priority given to those who meet one or more of the following criteria:
- under 35 years of age
- Māori or Pasifika
- new to the library and information sector
- working in school libraries.
Credit: Quotes and images from the LIANZA SLANZA Tertiary Grants Project.
Zac McCallum is a school librarian at Te Kura O Te Tauawa Halswell School in Ōtautahi, Christchurch. Prior to becoming a school librarian, he worked in public and academic libraries and as a children’s bookseller. Zac is a huge supporter of New Zealand children’s literature and our many wonderful authors and illustrators, and his role on the Storylines Management Committee enables him to be a part of this supportive community.