Across the Tasman Sea

For the last week or so I’ve been visiting RLG partner institutions in New Zealand and Australia: National Library of New Zealand, National Library of Australia, University of Sydney, and University of Melbourne. I’ve also met with a couple other institutions who we feel could both contribute to, and benefit from, RLG partnership.

It’s been an extremely interesting and useful visit for me. I’ve learned more about these institutions, the issues they are facing, and how we may be able to both learn from their initiatives as well as to help them be more effective. I’m coming back with a list of items to follow-up on, and even before my plane touches the ground my amazing colleagues are reading my trip report and beginning to follow-up on specific action items.

The night before last I flew across the Tasman Sea that separates Australia and New Zealand. Tonight I fly across the Pacific, arriving home before I leave as only a traveler across the International Dateline can. Although these geographic barriers are still problematic for in-person collaboration, the Internet has dramatically reduced or eliminated these barriers to virtual collaboration. We’re all in the same boat, both figuratively and virtually, and we have an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate deeply to solve common problems.

This was no clearer than when I participated in a Victoria University library school class in Wellington while on this trip. Not only were there students in that course from all over New Zealand, but in fact from all over the world — the UK, for example, and a couple from the United States. Sure, this meant getting up at 3am in some cases to participate, but they did, and with virtually no delay in receiving their spoken or written comments. What a wonderful world that allows people to leap across the Tasman, across the Pacific, across virtually any barrier, to come together and share and collaborate.

Roy Tennant works on projects related to improving the technological infrastructure of libraries, museums, and archives.

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