I’ve recently come back from Australia, and it seems that bilingualism for librarians might be more challenging elsewhere than in NZ.
In some cases, the number of languages and dialectal variations across a country is immense. Therefore meaning that it may not be practicable to force librarians to be bilingual in at least two official languages, because there are just too many variations to make it compulsory in a curriculum. For instance, India and the Philippines might be in this category.
However, for those countries, such as New Zealand and Wales, that have at least two official languages, why not make it compulsory as part of the training?
I truly believe that New Zealand could lead the way for this type of bilingual initiative, and not just for libraries. It could be an integral part of the training across the GLAM sector, and also for educators, social services and health services workers.
We could blaze the trail and show the world how it is done. Make it compulsory. Make it flexible. It could be delivered as an integral part of an institution’s existing programme or a number of nationally recognised programmes that already exist could be recognised through prior learning.
In ten to fifteen years time, a basic Māori language course for GLAM may not be as important as many of the new trainees will have progressed through the education system where Te Reo Māori is already mandatory, but it might shift the focus to a deeper discussion of tikanga and tino rangatiratanga. Or maybe we as a country will have already moved on anyhow (she writes ever hopefully).
In terms of NZSL, I see an increase in the number of people who can sign as a big positive, but I haven’t engaged enough recently with the Deaf community to see if this would be welcomed.