“Our tools are in front of our ideas and our bravery” Vale Paul Reynolds.


I am saddened to hear of the death today of New Zelander Paul Reynolds, co-director of McGovern Online. He described himself as:

an Auckland based commentator and thinker on the topics of information access and cultural/techno change.

Before stepping down in March this year, he was Adjunct Director of the National Library of New Zealand. Below are his slides from his “valedictory” talk, Living, Learning, Researching in the Cloud .:

I first heard him speak in October 2007 at the State Library of Western Australia, where he spoke about how new online tools could transform libraries. I took a pack of coloured pencils and drew my notes. They are below, Paul Reynolds at the State Library of Western Australia. Two ideas stuck with me from the day. The first is the question

“What is it, when we walk into a library that makes us go: “Aaaah, I’m in a library”? “

– in other words, with all the changes to our buildings and services, what is so essential about what we do that it must be kept and nurtured and instantly recognisable in any library space we create? The other was the quote at the start of this post:

Our tools are in front of our ideas and our bravery

This was said in the last half of 2007,  where new services -and indeed new classes of online tools- seemed to be springing up a the rate of three a week. Many of us were playing and fumbling and trying to make sense of how they worked, how we could use them in our libraries, and what would be the consequences of not jumping on that train before it left the station… Although the goldrush of new services seems to have settled down a bit, it is still worth asking I think – “what is possible, and are we being held back due to common sense or timidity?”…

I saw Paul at several conferences after that. He was a frequent end-of-session question asker. His questions always reflected the bigger picture -not just “how does this fit in a political or organisational context”, but “how does this fit in with a society that claims to be civilised?”. He will be missed in Australia as well as New Zealand.

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