Libraries have more than just books!

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Published: 25 March 2024

Pani Christie would know. Being a Pou Tiaki (Host) at Wainuiomata would obviously sway her view. However, it’s been Pani’s experience outside of her hosting role that really solidified the extensive resource a Neighbourhood Hub or Library has to offer.

Pani’s love of Libraries started back in 2013. Whilst working as a volunteer making food parcels at the Wainuiomata Community Centre, a position came up next door at the Wainuiomata Library. Although Pani had no experience working in a library, her hard mahi at the community centre was noticed by Annie Reilly (Wainuiomata Librarian). The way Pani was able to connect with the community was an admirable asset, so she was hired. This was around the time of merging the library and the community centre to create Wainuiomata Neighbourhood Hub as we know it today.

Due to a change of circumstance, Pani relocated to Blenheim for 5 years. While establishing herself in a new town, she knew exactly where to go to access resource and help – the local library. For Pani, the library meant a place of safety, no judgement, and a sense of community – all the things she had experienced from her time in Wainuiomata Neighbourhood Hub. Here she was able to access the internet, print multiple copies of her CV, speak to people about local employment, all whilst feeling safe and supported.

After her time in Blenheim, Pani came back to Wainuiomata. The first place she went to seek employment was the Wainuiomata Hub. Unfortunately, at the time, there were no full-time roles available. However, the site lead at the time (Earl Va’a) put Pani on the casual list, which lead to full time employment. She is now a proud Heritage team member and Baby Bounce & Rhyme presenter at Wainuiomata Neighbourhood Hub.

Libraries and Hubs have been such a place of solace for Pani, so she wants to make it ‘official’ and has set her sights on becoming a librarian (a dream she’s held for nearly 10 years now). Having experienced first-hand the way in which a librarian provides so much more than a book recommendation, she wants to give back to her community and be that librarian for the people of Wainuiomata - a librarian, a team leader, enhancing the mana of her colleagues and community, in an encouraging and supportive space.

To realise her goal, Pani has taken on the commitment of two years study for a New Zealand Diploma in Library & Information Studies. She is doing this alongside full-time work at Wainuiomata Neighbourhood Hub as well as her most important job of being a mother of two. A grant from LIANZA (Library & Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) for library studies has paid the Open Polytech fees associated with this study - something Pani probably wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for another amazing colleague, April Stevenson (Content Specialist for Neighbourhood & Library Services).

The love of helping people, connecting people with information, researching, and the development and training on offer for Hutt City Libraries staff has taken Pani down an amazing career path she only hopes to build on. Being fluent in Te Reo, she is trying to incorporate it into everything she can.

Being a role model and enhancing mana for people is what it means to be a Librarian for Pani.