Farewell to Library leader



29 April 2019

Rotorua Library Director, Jane Gilbert, is taking a well-deserved break when she retires in July (2019) after 30 years of employment with Rotorua Lakes Council.

After her long career in libraries Gilbert says the time has flown past.

“There’s always something new happening and every day is different. I could not have chosen a more enjoyable yet challenging career”, says Mrs Gilbert.

On retirement Gilbert feels that she’s leaving the library at the right time for herself and the library.

“Retirement will obviously involve all those books I haven’t had time to read, and my husband and I are also embarking on a new adventure in a different city. We have a house and 2 acres waiting to be ‘done up’. I’m sure the future includes more time with family and friends, more opportunities to ride our e-bikes and to take up pétanque again. They do say that in retirement you are busier than ever – I can definitely see that happening.”

Gilbert’s library career started at Rotorua Library when she was just 17 filling a junior role for 2 years. She moved to Auckland in 1971 to join a small team at Northcote Library before traveling overseas. In 1989 Jane returned to Rotorua Library as Lending Services Librarian then successfully applied for the Library Director position she has been in for 24 years.

Gilbert was made an Associate member of LIANZA (Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) in 2004, highlighting her significant contribution to the wider library and information sector.

Gilbert has seen the role of libraries evolve many times in her long career. In a 2000 article in The Weekend Jane shared her belief that libraries have to be prepared to continually change and improve to meet customers’ expectations.

“The advent of new technologies has led to a number of changes in the formats content is provided in – from audiobooks on cassette tape to compact disc and now downloadable files. Expensive sets of encyclopaedias are no longer required with reliable information now available through online databases, available 24/7 and from outside of the library,” explains Gilbert.

One of Jane’s career highlights was the opening of the new home for Rotorua Library within Te Aka Mauri in 2018, in a unique partnership with the Lakes District Health Board.

“The opening of Te Aka Mauri was exciting, amazing and very satisfying. I’m so proud of how the staff handled the pressure, how well they performed and how everything came together. Even while we worked through the expected teething issues, the staff remained positive and the end result is a library like no other.”

“I feel that Rotorua Library is on track to make a big difference in people’s lives. No longer do we refer to ‘how it’s been done in the past’ but we really consider what the community wants and how best to achieve it,” says Mrs Gilbert.

Te Aka Mauri has received numerous awards and accolades since it opened including the most recent SOLGM Local Government Excellence Awards which took place on 11 April 2019.

The 2019 BERL Award for Collaborative Government Action focusses on community benefits achieved through Council working with other local or central government agencies. Judges believe the collaboration between Rotorua Lakes Council and Lakes District Health Board, Te Aka Mauri, was a great example of the joined-up locally led solutions to local and national challenges.

 “It’s also a shining example of turning a set of challenges into an opportunity, and then into a facility and combined service with great outcomes”, explained the SOLGM judges.

Jane’s staff and colleagues from neighbouring libraries acknowledge her innovative approach to library services, strong support and encouragement of staff and peers and her leadership in developing shared regional services, among other attributes.

Rotorua Lakes Council Manager of Arts & Culture, Stewart Brown, says Jane Gilbert has provided an invaluable contribution to the organisation.

“The Rotorua Library has grown and developed in unique and innovative ways under the strong leadership of Jane for over a quarter of a century. Her knowledge and connections, both in the library industry and local community, will be greatly missed. We appreciate that she will remain in the role until July to help the selected candidate settle in”, says Mr Brown.

Applications for the position of Kaihautū Te Aka Mauri - Library Director open 29 April and close on 17 May 2019.

This is a rare and exciting opportunity for a dynamic leader to make a real difference. Rotorua Lakes Council are looking for someone with experience in developing and delivering high quality services with outstanding customer experiences, distinctive relevant events and programmes. The successful candidate will have ability to manage and promote what is an outstanding community asset while developing strong local and industry relationships.  

“Rotorua embodies the spirit of manaakitanga and is the heart of Te Arawa. We use the Library to inspire the hearts and minds of our people and our visitors and the new candidate needs to be passionate about this”, explains Mr Brown.

For application details visit rotorualakescouncil.nz


1. Rotorua LibraryDirectorJane Gilbert, April 2019

2. Jane Gilbert celebrates the 125th anniversary of Rotorua Library, 2014

3. Jane Gilbert (Rotorua Library Director) and Bridget Wilson (Children’s Health Hub Manager) checking on progress as Te Aka Mauri takes shape, January 2017

Page reviewed: 29 Apr 2019 4:30pm