A librarian’s love for the community

Wanting to get the best of both worlds, Hana Whaanga enrolled with the Open Polytechnic so she could have the freedom to choose where and when she studied while she earned a living doing what she loves, working for the community as a librarian.

Hana, who is of Ngati Kahungunu descent, first tried studying a different field with a local university.  But attending classes full-time while working part-time took her too far away from her real love of being immersed in the library profession.

Finding her calling

Working in libraries since leaving high school, Hana felt it was her calling, so it made sense for her to switch her studies and enrol in a Diploma in Information and Library Studies through Open Polytechnic.

“Working part time and going to university didn’t work. Rather than fitting work around my studies, I wanted something I could do at my own pace. Because I could keep doing what I wanted during the day, it worked around my hours of work.”

Spending a year in Perth, Hana was able to take her studies with her, and while there decided to put her hand up to present a talk at an Australian Library conference.

“I couldn’t afford to go so I had to cancel. One of my Open Polytechnic lecturers, Alison Fields, was there and saw my name and a few years later asked me if I wanted to write a paper with her.

“She is a lovely lady and really stands out to me because I feel confident to contact her at any time. For lecturers to be accessible to their students, and also approachable and easy going, is really important”.

Planning for the future

Hana has since completed both the Level 5 and Level 6 Diplomas in Information and Library Studies and is still as passionate as ever about learning and the library industry.

“I love having good conversations with people and getting to know the community. Working in a public library is about connecting people with information and what they need.

Now intending on studying towards a Bachelor in Applied Science, Hana thrives on sharing her enthusiasm for learning to the rest of the world and subsequently is very active in both online library forums and social media platforms.

“I like writing and from a very young age I have written stories so I thought, ‘why not share these musings and put them on the internet?’ I then started developing my own website after taking a web design course over the summer through the Open Polytechnic which taught me about HTML.

Hana describes herself as a lifelong learner and says studying runs in her family.

“The information you get from studying is gold, even if you don’t get a degree out of it, you gain untold learning and professional development.”

I love having good conversations with people and getting to know the community. Working in a public library is about connecting people with information and what they need.