Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa
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Jeremy Langley

Jeremy Langley, Digital Services Coordinator at Kapiti Coast District Libraries on his passion for Libraries and Librarians and advice to those interested in a career as a Librarian. 

A Q&A with Librarian Jo Barnes: 

Managing the Library Management System (LMS) at Kapiti Coast District Libraries means Jeremy has an important role in making sure the library’s digital services are functioning optimally and online presence is dynamic.  Jeremy is passionate about digital services in libraries and knows how the power of technology can positively transform the library experience for the public and the Librarians. Being responsible for the administration of and staff training around, digital services, social media and the library website functions, Jeremy knows first-hand how Librarians need to have a can-do and find-out-how attitude when it comes to the rapidly changing technology environment. 

“The great thing about digital services in libraries is that you are not limited to what is possible. The communities who use the library really shape what services their library offers: whether it is having access to free eBooks; having free workshops on how to use smartphones/tablets; or to learning the skills they need to build a website. It is important for any library digital services team to ensure that they are meeting the needs of the Librarians and the public when it comes to do with digital services.  An important consideration in meeting these needs is looking at the next big thing in technology and predicting its usefulness and relevance to our user’s needs.”

Q: Jeremy, you’ve had a long and varied career as a Librarian.  Please tell us how, how did your career begin?
A: I started off working at Masterton District Library for a couple of afternoons a week, as a Student Shelver, while I was still at college. My job was to make sure all the library items were shelved correctly.As time went by I was handed more responsibility it soon grew from there, during school holidays I would work full time and assist with general circulation duties (issuing, returning items and reference enquiries), processing new material, helping out with children’s holiday programmes. It was when I was working in the holidays that I really got a sense for what libraries were truly about – being a place community, events and programmes, and of course books and reading.

After a couple of years of working as a Student Shelver, I was looking at going off to university, but I was not 100% sure about what I wanted to do. At the same time as I was preparing to enter university, I accepted a position as a Librarian on the Digital Services at Masterton District Library. While working full-time I also studied part-time and completed a Diploma in Information and Library Studies (Level 5) through the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. My role on the Digital Services Team covered general library duties such as customer service, shelving, processing new materials, maintaining the LMS and managing the library website.It also provided to me interesting opportunities to apply the knowledge I was building through studying and incorporate my passion for new technologies and customer service. While here I implemented a range of new technologies including the Customer Self-Service system, and RFID (Radio-frequency identification) for circulation and security systems.

I also am a committee member for the Eastern and Central Reading Encouragement and Development Network (E.C.READ’N). This committee organises summer and winter reading programmes for local children.These programmes are family orientated, incentive based reading programme for children ranging from pre-school to intermediate age. The committee also organises an annual professional development conference which is a wonderful way to maintain and enhance our skills and gain a deeper understanding of what we do and the implications of what we offer.

Q: What aspect about Librarianship are you really passionate about?

A: What I really love about being a Librarian is the people I meet and helping them learn, discover and find what they need from the library. Whether it is helping a child who may be a reluctant reader find a book that fuels their passion for reading, to helping someone set-up and use Skype to talk to their overseas family. Libraries are about people first and foremost.I keep them at the centre of my day, and at the centre of my practice.

Q: What was the catalyst in igniting your passion for Libraries?

A: When little my parents would take me to the library to borrow books and participate in preschool story-and-rhyme-time programmes, and as I grew older join in the school holiday programmes.I emerged with a very positive view of libraries, even though I didn’t really know exactly what Librarians did. Once I started working as a student in the library, I really got a sense of what Librarians do.How they help individuals and vitalise communities.I was also excited by the dynamic environment of libraries, being a Librarian means never having a dull day.

Q: What is the one thing you wish everybody in your community knew about the library?

A: Libraries are constantly changing. Some people still have the perception that public libraries are a place that you have to be quite, and you only go there to read and borrow books. Libraries are a ‘community hub’ – places that run workshops, craft sessions, informative talks, places that have computers to use, and Wi-Fi to access, free eBooks and much more.

I think it’s important for Librarians and libraries to develop, maintain and ensure strong relationships with their community’s organisations, groups and individuals to ensure relevant, desired, exciting and useful library services are available – library services that help people achieve their goals.

Q: Jeremy, for those considering a career as or change of career to a Librarian, please tell us what do Librarians do?

A: A Librarian’s role is one of service.Being of service to people is very satisfying.The primary duty of a Librarian is to provide excellent customer services to its patrons – this can include reader’s advisory, issuing items, returning items. There are also a range of specialised tasks such as managing digital services, serials, cataloguing, children and teens, acquisitions. These behind the scenes activities are not so well known but are all done with the patron in mind.

Q: What qualifications do Librarians need?

A: There are a range of different specialist tasks in a library; including cataloguing, serials, acquisitions, children, programmes, digital. In smaller libraries you will often find one person doing a number of specialist tasks, and in some instances sole charge librarians doing everything. It is important that there is a basic level of understanding of libraries, but it is also possible to learn on the job. LIANZA provides professional development opportunities, such as conferences and workshops, which cover all aspects of librarianship, throughout the country.Check out the qualifications page on the LINXA website to see all the tertiary study options to find an Education provider that provides the Library study that meets your Educational vision.

Q: In conclusion, we are in changing information environment where new technologies are both expanding and limiting who has access to information.  Public libraries have a key role in making information available and accessible for everyone.  What do you think are important traits for Librarians working in this environment?

A: Librarians need to be able to adapt to changing environments and technology. While librarians can’t know everything, it is important to be willing to learn. Sometimes they may be learning with their customers. They need to be approachable. Librarians also need to be proactive, to ensure libraries stay relevant!


Jo Barnes is the Information Services Librarian at the Deane Memorial Library, Laidlaw College – an academic theological library and evangelical archive in Auckland.

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