The words "irrepressible" and "librarian" seem,
logically, to lead to two others - Mary Ronnie, the former
Dunedin city and national librarian.
Ms Ronnie was Dunedin city librarian from 1968 to 1976 and
national librarian from 1976 to 1982.
Something of a legend in New Zealand library circles, she
recently wrote a history of the Dunedin Public Library.
Now, at 84, she shows few signs of slowing down.
Interviewed this week during the national conference of the
Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa
in Dunedin, she conceded she had had a heart operation early
this year but had since resumed her beloved Scottish country
The association was established at its first conference in
Dunedin in 1910 and is back again this year to celebrate its
Ms Ronnie emphasised she was optimistic that public libraries
- and books - would still be going strong in New Zealand in
another 100 years.
A recent visit to a city public library had confirmed that it
was filled with members of the public, and this was a good
sign for the future.
Modern users of public libraries were a "lovely mixture" of
people who wanted to read books for fun or for information,
and others availing themselves of electronic sources of
The growth of digital technologies was opening up new
challenges and opportunities.
Electronic books were already making it easier for people
with sight problems, by enabling them to increase the size of
the text they were reading.
However, Ms Ronnie believed traditional books also had many
advantages and would continue to be part of the libraries in
And her verdict on the latest library conference?
"I think it's excellent. It's going very well and is well
On Monday, at St Margaret's College, she gave a historical
talk on "Pioneers, revolutionaries and the new guard" within
New Zealand's library leadership.
• Fifteen people attended the association's first conference
More than 600 people are attending its latest conference,
which ends today.