Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa
Te Rau Herenga O Aotearoa

Member Q&A #8: Victoria Passau

Where do you work and what's your job title? 

Up until last month, I was Collection Manager, Online Cenotaph & Pou Maumahara at Auckland War Memorial Museum | Tāmaki Paenga Hira. I am currently seconded into the role of the Museum’s Governance and Compliance Advisor.

How did you end up working in libraries? 

I studied History and Art History at the University of Auckland. I went traveling for about six weeks at the end of my Honours year. During this trip I contemplated undertaking my Masters in Art History. I even completed some preliminary research in art galleries and research collections in the UK. However, I decided it would be a bit too isolating for my sensitive soul. Also the Court Portraiture of Charles I is a pretty dry topic and I was taking myself way too seriously to think Art History was a genuine career path. So I started looking for work. I applied for Library Assistant position at Mt Roskill Library because somehow it made sense

Has there been a highlight during your time working in libraries or an interesting reference enquiry?

From a personal career perspective, the exhibition I curated in 2011 at the end of my MLIS INFO 528 Research Paper.  My research focussed on the history of the Fine Arts Library at the University of Auckland. I loved the whole process of writing that paper, undertaking oral history interviews and exploring the Elam Archive and the University of Auckland’’s Special Collections. The exhibition was a way of celebrating nearly 60 years of history.

Professionally, it would be the relaunch of Online Cenotaph  in January 2015 and managing it’s ongoing progress and success. It has been very satisfying to be able to contribute to such a nationally significant public history project. I have particularly enjoyed working with a great group of professionals throughout the GLAM sector. I have also been lucky enough to have witnessed many private moments of enlightenment with members of the public.

Online Cenotaph allows people to add images, data and notes directly into the records of New Zealand’s military personnel -  80,000+ contributions have been made to date. It doesn’t privilege the official source over that of an individual’s personal perspective or knowledge. This democratisation of information is helping to build on our collective understanding of New Zealand’s military history. I hope this inclusive and collaborative approach to data creation and enrichment is the direction in which Documentary Heritage collections are now heading. 

What is your favourite part about working in libraries?

It is our ability to share, connect and create knowledge that makes us great. While also providing public spaces of empathy where people feel included and empowered.

What's your favourite part about being a member of LIANZA?

The discounts. Lol. But seriously being a member of LIANZA keeps me connected to my profession. I am a committee member of LIANZA’s Documentary Heritage SIG where I run our Twitter account https://twitter.com/DocHeritage. It only has 157 followers, so we are a niche crew, but that definitely helps me to keep up with trends.

And lastly, it wouldn't be a library-related interview without asking what your favourite book is? 

Shock horror but listening to music is more my vibe but if push comes to shove The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett.

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