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

The PURR Scheme

Professionals Unleashed for Refreshment and Reflection


What is PURR?

Originally, PURR was established by the Regional Staff Development Forum as a programme of short-term visits between Christchurch libraries but now has been extended to all library professionals in the Aoraki region.  The length of the visit should be designed to suit individual and library needs and provide the best opportunity for staff to participate in the scheme.  It is recommended that a visit be for a minimum of 2-3 days but can offer flexibility (at the committee’s discretion) for example, for school librarians who may only be able to take one day at a time. 

Download the PURR poster

Libraries involved with the PURR scheme

All Libraries in the LIANZA Aoraki Region. Placement will depend on the availability of staff at the chosen library to mentor a visiting professional.

Objectives of PURR

  1. To provide participants with the opportunity to observe different ways of doing things
  2. To share best practice
  3. To provide professional and career development for individuals - refreshment, time out
  4. To foster collegiality amongst Christchurch libraries
  5. To demonstrate a proactive approach to professional development within our organisations

Reasons to participate:

  1. To identify different ways of managing a problem/issue
  2. To benefit from other's experience in an area of interest
  3. To re-energise and keep up to date with thinking and developments in a particular area
  4. It is expected that participants in this programme will focus on a specific task or area of interest during the visit, for example, observing a library's operations
  5. Shadowing a colleague
  6. Working on a project
  7. Undertaking training

Who is eligible to participate?

The programme is open to all employees, although individual organisations may wish to apply restrictions on eligibility from time to time.

Employees submitting applications for participation in this programme must have the approval of their team leader/supervisor.

Conditions of the programme

  1. Participation is by a process of application and selection.
  2. It is expected that libraries will share the role of hosting participants, by accepting at least one participant per year to visit their library. This may result in participants not being able to visit their library of first choice however every effort will be made to match their needs to an appropriate library visit.
  3. Participants continue to be paid by their employing organization.
  4. Any additional financial support is at the discretion of the participant's employing organisation.
  5. Participants are expected to adhere to the working conditions of their hosting library, e.g. late nights, shift work. The employing library undertakes to support individual's participation by providing backup as appropriate.


Applicants complete a written application and submit it to the PURR representative at their library, with their team leader/supervisor's support.

Download the application form


The selection process is conducted by the committee as required.

  1. Criteria for selection
  2. Ability to share learning
  3. Openness to learning
  4. Need for refreshment & learning
  5. Undertaking a project which contributes to the library's strategic direction

Each library promotes PURR to its employees and asks for applications to be submitted. If the library receives a number of applications, they select internally, and forward up to two applications to the PURR committee. The  committee looks at the applications and discusses possible placements. While libraries are responsible for how they select participants, the  Committee has an overview of all applications and matches applicants with hosts.

Learning contract

The learning contract is an integral part of the visit. Once an applicant is accepted, a learning contract is drafted between the PURR applicant and their supervisor. This is then negotiated between both libraries. It is important that this contract is revisited as part of the debriefing process, to evaluate which of the proposed learning outcomes have been fulfilled.

Download the learning contract

Report and evaluation

All participants are expected to provide a written report on the effectiveness of the placement in achieving their learning goals. Copies of this report must be sent to the PURR committee, the employing library and the host library. It may also be appropriate for the participant to give a verbal report-back to other library staff. The Committee also recommends that the participant verbally debrief with their own manager on return to their library.

Obligations and responsibilities

  1. Participant ensures they have a clear understanding of the purpose and expectations of the visit
  2. Accepts conditions of work in host library
  3. Discusses any issues/problems with the mentor as they occur

Supervisor (Library sending)

  • Discusses expectations with staff member
  • Agrees on format of report and feedback
  • Provides opportunity for verbal debrief
  • Ensures there are appropriate backup systems in place while participant is absent
  • Commits to follow-up on learning, at 6 month and 12 month intervals

Host library

  1. Assigns a mentor who:
    • ensures that necessary supervision is given
    • ensures that the process has structure and is meaningful
    • acts as a coach
    • provides a support role
  2. Provides a workspace and access to a PC, and other necessary equipment
  3. Organises a debriefing session at end of visit

Monitoring and review

Each visit is evaluated after the event, by the participant, their supervisor, and the mentor. Evaluations are monitored and reviewed by the PURR committee.

Outline of process

  1. Application sent to manager by applicant
  2. Manager agrees
  3. Application forwarded to PURR committee Discussed. Application accepted/rejected. Host agreed upon. Applicant notified.
  4. Discussed. Application accepted/rejected. Host agreed upon. Applicant notified.
  5. Host and participant's library discuss logistics; learning contract agreed to; timeline decided; structure of visit established
  6. Mentor liaises with applicant to advise starting details - hours of work etc


At the end of the visit, debrief with host library and then with own library on return.

Participant sends written report to  PURR committee within 4 weeks.


Aoraki PURR: Library Profiles

The following information has been provided by libraries represented on the PURR committee as examples of the types of roles PURR applicants might like to observe during their visit.  PURR is open to all libraries in the Aoraki area.  The committee will negotiate with the requested library on receipt of an application to ensure they are available to host a visit at that time.

A School Library

School libraries differ hugely according to the size and nature of the school they serve. Many primary schools have only a part-time librarian and some have none at all, though nearly all schools have a teacher in charge of the library, who will have varying degrees of control over management. Secondary schools usually have one full-time librarian and a team of part-timers, though again the number of hours varies hugely. Primary schools have rostered class visits for book exchange; secondary schools have more individual students doing independent study, as well as frequent class visits.  Most library jobs are term-time only, which contributes to the generally low wages in the sector, as does the fact that not all schools have professional librarians.

All school libraries support literacy and learning in their parent schools, serving curriculum needs as well as providing recreational reading. The job of school librarian is an enormously varied one, and includes:

  • Selecting, purchasing and cataloguing stock
  • Issuing, returning and shelving books
  • Reader advisory
  • Teaching information literacy skills; promoting EPIC databases
  • Liaising with staff, students and occasionally the wider community
  • Maintaining websites, a catalogue, blogs and other tools, and maybe running a book group
  • Curating websites, finding book trailers, sorting resources for teachers
  • Technical troubleshooting – helping with copying, printing, computer access
  • Library management including budgeting, staffing, stocktaking, reporting

Canterbury Medical Library

CM provides library and information services for University of Otago (UOC) and Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB).  The recently refurbished library is on the 6th Floor, of the University of Otago, Christchurch building at Christchurch Hospital.  There are branch libraries at Princess Margaret Hospital (maintained by CM) and Hillmorton Hospital (run by a CDHB staff member). 

The Library offers a collection supporting academic, clinical and research needs of staff and students.  In recent years the library has moved much of its journal collection online.  Electronic is also the preference for books but with two distinct user populations this is not always possible.  We have a close working relationship with other libraries within the University of Otago system, with emphasis on a consortia approach to electronic resource sharing.

Membership is currently 3500 members comprising academic and clinical staff, researchers and students.  Clinical staff may undertake teaching and many academic staff are also practising health professionals.

The library has a staff of 11 FTE who work in one or more of the library’s teams - Reader Services, Collection Services, Branch Library Services, and ELearning. 

A User Survey (Feb 2013) run by senior staff from our Dunedin campus received 361 responses.  Online resources continue are the most valued resources although print resources continue to be needed especially Reserve.  Praise for library staff and services was significant.  The library as a place was rated essential.

Areas of strength/expertise include liaison with course convenors and with clinical groups, medical database searching, reference services, eLearning; Reference staff teach literature search sessions as a collaboration with the Department of General Practice

Issues confronting us include:

  • University of Otago libraries recently moved to the ALMA library system with the PRIMO discovery layer.  While ALMA offers advantages such as article level searching it is still very new and library staff are still on a learning curve.
  • Licencing difficulties in delivery of electronic services to two organisations (University of Otago and Canterbury District Health Board) whose departments are spread throughout the city
  • Liaison with a broad user base comprising user base students, hospital staff, academics and researchers.

Christchurch City Libraries

Christchurch City Libraries is part of the community Services group of Christchurch City Council and has over twenty libraries including two temporary central libraries.

There are approximately 246 FTE staff covering all areas of our service.

As well as central and community libraries there are a number of other teams which provide support to our wider network and community.

Frontline staff (Library Assistants, Information Specialists and Community learning Librarians) in libraries spend much of the day providing customer assistance in a range of areas including readers advisory, reference enquiries, digital/technical help with computers and portable devices as well as programming. Team Leaders and associate Team Leaders will also be involved in some frontline work but also have responsibility for building and staff management.

Reference collections are maintained at both the central libraries and include the ANZC collection and Ngā Pounamu Māori Centre which provide unique historical and local resources including photos and Ngāi Tahu claim material.

There are five teams under the Content umbrella which provides resources for the library network. The Content team manage vendor relationships; look after the selection, cataloguing, invoicing and processing of new items for the network; provide support for the de-selection, retention and preservation of stock in the network; manage the digitisation of library material and items loaned to the library; statistical data on the collection; and policy review whilst the Bindery's business is to conserve, repair and protect library resources.

Digital Library Services provides technical support, maintains the library website of approximately 15,000 pages and updates social media accounts. They are also responsible for our Telephone Library Service – Fingertip - where customers can access information professionals via the phone or email.

The Programmes Events & Learning Team has the role of designing, developing, leading, delivering, monitoring and evaluating life-long learning programmes and events for customers and staff. Maori Services, Families Outreach and Pre-school outreach services as well as the organisation of various library events throughout the year also fall within the remit of this team.

A separate Outreach team provides services to rest homes and other groups, whilst Places and Spaces look after maintenance and facilities planning.

Ara Institute of Canterbury

Ara Institute of Canterbury has approx. 7,000 student EFTS (effective full time equivalent students) which translates to around 20,000 bodies a year studying a range of vocational qualifications from certificate to post-graduate level.  There are approx 800 staff FTE.  Ara has campuses in Christchurch (City and Woolston); Timaru, Washdyke, Ashburton & Oamaru plus four Campus Connect sites.

Library Services are part of the Student Services Division and work alongside Learning Services and Disability Services in Academic Support in enhancing the student experience at Ara.  The Library maintains a “just-in-time” collection supporting current programmes. Library staff purchase, manage and provide access to resources in all formats, including maintenance of ebook and ejournal collections.

Library staff all have a front-of-house component to their roles and spend a considerable portion of their time helping students wherever they are working within the Library space. We have two service points available for staff to use but they are expected to work away from desks, roving the building offering assistance as required to support student learning, library services, locating resources, referencing and first level ICT.

Librarians employed as Knowledge Advisors in Learning Design (Academic Services Division) work with academic staff to imbed information literacies into their teaching, to support the institutional repository (Te Keke) and to identify resources for use in programmes with preference given to electronic books and journals.

University of Canterbury (UC). Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha

The University of Canterbury Library provides access to information resources for teaching, learning and research. UC has approx. 15,000 students and around 1700 staff.

Some library roles of possible interest (not a full listing):

Liaison Librarians
Work with staff and students across all Colleges (Business and Law, Arts, Education, Engineering, Science).
Information Resource Assistants
Work on resource acquisition, supply, discovery and maintenance to agreed standards. Providing some Interloan support.

E-services Co-ordinator
Coordinate, integrate and support access for users to library resources anytime, anywhere.

Research Data Co-ordinator
Manage, develop and support UC’s Research Repository

Specialist positions include: Special Collections Librarian, Archivist, , Flexible Learning Advisors, Maori Resources Librarian, Maori Liaison Librarian, Research Services Librarian.

PURR Committee
Professionals Unleashed for Refreshment and Reflection Representatives:

Alice Cruickshank
Christchurch City Council

Debbie Fox
Christchurch City Council

Dave Clemens
University of Canterbury

Linda Schappi
Lincoln University

Liz Jones
Hagley High School

Marg Walker
Canterbury Medical Library

Lynley Aldridge
Ara Institute of Canterbury

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