Tools and services provided by the Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa have helped to build a bridge between Hamilton City Libraries and the city’s ethnic communities.
The People’s Network’s provision of Kete, an online digital repository for community voices, memories, and stories, is allowing Hamilton’s various migrant communities to share their experiences online. It’s also providing a space for valuable library-held historical material on the web.
Community Space Online
One of the functions that Kete Hamilton fulfils is as an online space for community organisations operating within the region. One of these is the Waikato Filipino Association (WFA) which manages its own “basket” or area within Hamilton City Libraries’ Kete. Gladys Stephens, the Association’s president, is enthusiastic about the benefits of Kete to her organisation.
“WFA Kete is assisting the Filipino community by providing interesting topics, contents, highlights of the club’s community activities and giving a good view of the Philippine culture and traditions.”
Individual stories contributed by members of other migrant communities include; a local woman recounting her experience of growing up Muslim in Hamilton in the 1970s, the story of Joe Di Maio, Hamilton City Councillor, whose family in Italy sent him to New Zealand in the wake of WWII, or the harrowing tale of an Iraqi refugee’s journey to a new life in New Zealand.
In each case the stories of New Zealanders with unique experiences have been captured and made available in an online environment – stories that would not have been told and recorded without Kete.
Forging a Library-Community Connection
In addition to providing a vehicle for local communities to share stories and news with each other Hamilton’s Kete has been a catalyst for local people to discover their library. Smita Biswas, Hamilton City Libraries’ Digital Access Manager has noticed that involvement with Kete “… has brought in community members who were less aware or lacked confidence in using the library and its rich resources.”
Within communities that have a Kete presence there’s been further engagement with the library in the form of individuals offering to help library staff in the sometimes tricky task of creating library collections in the world languages area.
Past and Future Heritage
Librarians are contributing to Kete Hamilton too, uploading and managing the “Hamilton Heritage” basket. This area of the Kete plays host to a selection of images held by Hamilton City Libraries in its historic photographs collection and includes pictures of the people, places and events of Hamilton’s past.
But ‘heritage’ isn’t just about what’s been significant in the days of yore. It’s about preserving what may be significant in the future. Biswas is keen to point out that capturing the community events and profiles of people alive today will have benefits further down the track.
“Kete Hamilton is on its way to becoming a very useful resource for historians in the future.”