Librarians as Heroic Characters – New Zealand Librarian Sally Pewhairangi Inspiring Us to Dream

“Librarians who just like other heroic characters aren’t going to wait for someone else to solve their problems. Who are going to take a leap of faith and have the guts to make something happen.” This is Sally Pewhairangi’s call in a short video we recorded last week at the Auckland Central library.
New Zealand Librarian Sally Pewhairangi inspires the future of libraries and librarians to dream, find their hero, and think about what will excite us next.
I met with Sally of Heroes Mingle at the Auckland library to hear her ideas and to be inspired by New Zealand Librarians. I ended up being blown away by what seems to me a powerful approach to the future of librarians.

Start with this short video –

Sally’s ideas and energy moved me. I sensed a real power here in the context of getting to our futures in her approach because of the emphasis on self empowerment and enabling an iteration of inspiration. I am beyond impressed by their Days of Creativity” project – imagine if everyday the library focused on empowering a different type of creativity.

I was in Auckland, NZ for the IFLA Metropolitan Libraries conference last week and got double the reward by seeking out the energy points of local librarianship. That is how I was also introduced to the Auckland Library Maker Space, the New Zealand national association’s thoughtful leaders, the Auckland Innovation Hub, and the inspiring librarians of the National Library of New Zealand. More coming soon about these and the Metlib conference itself.

Sally Pewhairangi is “An information entrepreneur weaving librarianship and project management together: to bridge the gap between people and possibilities ” (from her Twitter bio @ sallyheroes). Sally works with the following consultancy projects –

Sally is doing eBook training at Auckland City Libraries and her past experience has included:

  • Strategic Services Development Coordinator, Waimakariri District Libraries
  • Chair, Auckland Branch, Project Management Institute New Zealand
  • Project Manager, Manukau Institute of Technology.
  • Electronic Resources Librarian, Manukau Libraries.


Inspiring Librarians to find their heroes:
Sally’s and Heroes Mingle’s approach focuses on inspiring librarians to find their heroes and their voices.

  • We all have something of value to offer and we all want to shine. Heroes Mingle is about taking those things and sharing them to spark discussion of risks, experiments, and success. A great reflection of the evolving role of the library itself. (From my in person talk with her).
  • For passionate librarians, the ones driving change with their own energy, being a librarian is seen as more than a role – we want to do more than just turn up. We don’t want to want for someone to give us an opportunity but take a leap of faith ourselves to create opportunities and mingle with others that do or encourage them to do the same.


sally heroes and joe murphy librarians new zealand

Selfie with Sally and Joe Murphy at the Auckland library

Always thinking about what will excite us next or getting excited about the next opportunity: 

  • Passion needs to be a strong driver.
  • If we are not excited about something then we are not going to invest in it.
  • Iteratively asking ourselves – are we still excited enough or do we want to stop?
  • How can we change it so that we are excited again?
  • With the example of writers block – shifting the larger project to maintain excitement to library work in general. We can achieve this goal by changing emphasis or direction.
  • Telling the story drives us, even if writing itself does not


Encourage NZ librarians to create their own professional development and more:

  • A New Zealand High school librarian was inspired by a heroes Mingle session to start her own discussion group with librarians and bookshop owners. She took her own initiative with her own motivation. Unplanned serendipity that comes form inspiration based approaches.
  • A reminded that curiosity is sparked by wide variety of things that may be tangentially connected. Sometimes it just takes the right timing and energy.


“who has the guts to make something happen?”:

The Heroes Mingle partnership story started from the question “who has the guts to make something happen” to address staff development and improving visibility with stakeholders.

Of note is that it started with a problem not a solution, a question to explore and the energy to invest because it started with what they are excited about. This is a central theme – be guided by your interest and pivot or pass when that interest evaporates.

The goal was to influence other individual librarians to take their own professional development journey instead of trying solely to influence HR and our associations. To start and continue your own journey. Self empowerment, accountability, and authority for own destiny.

Conversation participation in their 2012 “Reality Librarianship” sessions was necessary so it was a dialog. They ran virtual book discussion group using the Atlas of New Librarianship to generate excitement about new thinking about librarianship and roles.

In 2013 the “Reality Librarianship” series focused on community partnerships to explore strength of partnerships. Because we cant survive on our own and we have to utilize expertise from across our communities. Libraries belong in the community and therefore belong with not an outside.

They wanted to create our own conversations and encourage others’ conversations.

The Next Stage – a Magazine that breaks publishing bounds to spark conversation. Watch for it at the end of May 2014. It will be about questions that push us to chase our inspiration

Thank you for the welcome and the spark, Sally.

-Joe Murphy Librarian


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