Living Library – Steve Taylor

“The Living Library looks to be a wonderful resource. I look forward to strolling through the pages at a leisurely pace. Thank You.”

We tend to imagine a library as a quiet place full of books. Some new, some dusty, a place of solitude and silence. But what if books could talk? What if a library was a place of conversation, where you could ask a gifted practitioner a question, or listen to someone share from their experience? This would be a living library, connecting people with people so that theory met practice and practice met theory.

At the start of 2017, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership (KCML) conducted research into the life-long learning needs of Presbyterian ministers. Funding from Thornton Blair Trust enabled phone interviews with 55 ministers to understand better the areas of knowledge, skill and personal development they as leaders wanted to explore. Throughout 2018, the initial data was refined and priorities were clarified. This involved conducting focus groups with 230 participants, both lay and ordained, in every presbytery in New Zealand.

A repeated request was for a ministry resourcing website that could connect people with people. “I just haven’t got the time to read through piles and piles of books.” “If KCML could source best practice.” In response to the research and with a generous grant from Synod of Otago Southland, KCML and the Presbyterian Research Centre built a Living Library. It is designed to be flexible, accessible, varied and rich in order to enable connection and resource ministry.

A Maori whakataukī encapsulates the hopes and dreams for this Living Library: He waka eke noa – naaku te rourou, naau te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi – Resourcing each other empowers each other to grow. There are recommended books and websites, videos and archival materials, short courses, webinar and coaching opportunities, human stories with an invitation to further conversation, the BeWise curriculum and more.

The Living Library is structured around the five areas of learning priority identified in the research. Each has a logo to guide the learning journey.

Faith-150x150Faith – This logo comes from the Moses story that underpins the Presbyterian use of the symbol of the burning bush, a founding narrative. It also recalls Jesus Christ, light of the world.

Community-150x150Community – This logo acknowledges the wisdom of our tangata whenua by drawing from the Māori symbol for new life in community – the double koru. We will not grow without each other; community should nurture new life.

Witness-150x150Witness – This logo is a stylised migratory bird, a tern that flies between New Zealand and Asia and beyond or the albatross that flies around our wider region. It acknowledges past and present peoples who have migrated across oceans. Its movement resonates with the out-and-return movement of witness. And, as a bird of the southern oceans, it offers our take on the dove or wild goose of the Spirit who goes before us.

LeadershipLeadership – For followers of Christ, leadership must take place in the context of cruciform love. Hence the cross, with the addition of a double circle to suggest the whole as a compass guiding us, which also holds echoes of a Celtic cross from Scottish heritage. Tilted, it reminds us of Jesus and his modelled call to his disciples to pick up our cross.

innovation-150x150Innovation – Using waka, Polynesian explorers traversed the Pacific, discovering new lands and possibilities. They were trailblazers and inventors in Oceania, ancestors in innovation.

The website was launched at GA18 ministers’ resourcing day and the feedback from participants was incredibly positive.

So welcome. Link on through (
Make some noise by clicking on a video.
Chat to a colleague by joining an online book club.
We look forward to engaging with you.
We pray that this Living Library will inspire, challenge, encourage, disciple.
Ma te Atua tātou e manaaki.


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  1. Pingback: Homegrown resourcing to kick-start 2019 – Jose Reader | Candour

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