National Library Move To Cultural And Heritage Opportunity For New Vision
The announcement that the National Library will shift to the new Ministry for Culture and Heritage may be the
opportunity it needs to challenge the perception of its role, new President of the Library and Information Association
of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA), Penny Carnaby, said today.
"All recent policy affecting the National Library has suffered from a lack of breadth of vision for its central role in
delivering and networking information services to the country," she said.
"There is no doubt that National Library's operations have been misunderstood by the current Minister, Nick Smith. We
hope that the new Minister, Hon. Marie Hasler, will have a more enlightened perception about the role it plays in all
our lives," she said.
"We are poised at a moment in history of rapid growth in demand for information services. It is crucial to New
Zealand's cultural and economic success that we remain in a position to deliver those services to the knowledge-based
society of the next century."
Information professionals reacting to the move can see how the National Library might fit into a cultural context,
although they are concerned about the implications of an apparent shift of focus away from its educational role.
"The National Library's role in heritage is well established, but we estimate that only 30% of the Library's operation
could be deemed to service heritage. The big focus is on education, research, and information networking. Depending on
the definition of culture in Hon. Marie Hasler's Ministry, we suggest these services are an essential part of this
country's future," Penny Carnaby said.
There are many questions that remain unanswered in the recent announcement, for example, funding, and suggestions of a
crown entity. LIANZA would encourage the new Minister to adopt a more consultative approach to ensure that all future
decisions concerning the National Library and any issues relating to the information sector are well informed.
"The National Library has just gone through a restructuring review, and another review has been announced for later
this year. That kind of attention is welcome if it results in improved resources, but so far there is no evidence of
that being the case. The recent proposals for the National Library have raised alarm bells for those who really know its
"Of course we are asking how the National Library will benefit from this shift and we would ask for assurances that its
critical role at the heart of our education, research, and information networking services will be strengthened, not
"We trust that National Library funding will not be diverted to other cultural and heritage services.
"The Government needs to dust off its old-world view of library services and grasp the true nature of its crucial role
in New Zealand's knowledge economy," Penny Carnaby said.
This shift to the new Ministry reinforces LIANZA's view that the government needs independent advice on all matters
relating to the knowledge economy.
LIANZA is the professional body in New Zealand Aotearoa for those engaged in librarianship and information management.
LIANZA asserts that `the basic right of citizens in a democratic society is access to information on matters that affect
their lives. The right to be informed, to be consulted, and to intervene is essential and fundamental to the democratic
process.' LIANZA can be found at http://www.lianza.org.nz