New libraries manager welcomed home

It was an emotional day at the Oamaru Library yesterday, as its staff and community welcomed Jenny Bean as the new Waitaki District Libraries manager.

A powhiri was led by Waitaki kaumatua Anne Te Maiharoa-Dodds as Ms Bean entered the library with a group of her friends and family, and sat across from the established library community.

Waiata (song), speeches and mihi whakatauki (introductions) were made which reflected a sadness to see Ms Bean’s predecessor, Philip van Zijl, leave and an excitement to welcome her.

Ms Bean was most looking forward to supporting staff with the fantastic work they had already been doing within the community.

Originally from Oamaru, she had "been around the world and back".

Retiring Waitaki District Libraries manager Philip van Zijl welcomes new manager Jenny Bean to...
Retiring Waitaki District Libraries manager Philip van Zijl welcomes new manager Jenny Bean to Oamaru yesterday. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD
Having lived in Christchurch, Wellington, Canada, and Palmerston North, she was "incredibly excited and thrilled" to be back in Oamaru.

"It’s such a strong place and community."

She replaces Mr van Zijl who had been in the role for 10 years, and had achieved a lot in that time.

His proudest achievement was the Oamaru Library refurbishment, which created a "welcoming, beautiful space".

"It gave us the platform to provide tools to engage with the public."

Mr van Zijl was happy to have overseen Waitaki District Libraries shift its focus to a "genuine engagement with the community".

Waitaki District Libraries is made up of six branches — Oamaru, Palmerston, Hampden, Kurow, Otematata and Omarama.

Although he would miss the people, he was very excited to retire and focus on his passions. Ironically, one of those passions was reading — something he did not have a lot of time for since becoming manager.

He had been involved in the recruitment process of his successor — the most "difficult job of my whole career".

But he was happy to "leave the library in very safe hands".

"We were fortunate to have recruited someone that was local, who knew the community, and had connections with our multicultural and tangata whenua partners in the community.

"I am very proud and happy we have recruited somebody that will hit the ground running."

Mr van Zijl’s final day will be on Thursday.

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