In case you missed it, here is an open letter Penny Carnaby has sent around regarding the proposed merger of the National Library and Archives into the Department of Internal Affairs.
Open letter to the library sector from Penny Carnaby, National Librarian
Kia ora colleagues
I thought it useful if I updated everyone on the recent Government announcement that Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand would amalgamate into the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).
Firstly, I want to thank the many individuals and sector groups that have been in touch during the past few weeks. Of course many questions and at times concerns have been raised and I want to assure you that your questions will be answered in the next few weeks. We will put these up on a web link very soon.
Since the announcement I have met with the Libraries of New Zealand through the Strategic Advisory Forum (made up of CONZUL, Te Rōpū Whakahau, ITPNZ, Parliamentary Library, NZLLA, LIANZA, SLANZA, GIG, the professional education sector, APLM and HealthSIG); the Library and Information Advisory Commission (LIAC), Guardians Kaitiaki of the Alexander Turnbull Library, and the Public Service Association (PSA). I was also able to catch up with the South Island Public Library Managers at their conference last month.
The Minister responsible for the National Library, the Hon Nathan Guy, has met with the Guardians and LIAC. At each of these meetings the groups have posed questions about how this decision will impact on the services the National Library delivers to the people of New Zealand and especially the library and information sector. In the weeks ahead the National Library will draw on this expertise as we work together to shape the new organisation to ensure this move is beneficial for all of us.
So why the change?
The Minister is quite clear that this move has been made to strengthen the three institutions and that the amalgamation provides opportunities to use common capability, expertise, economies of scale; providing better public access to the information we hold.
Will this affect the statutory independence of the National Library and Archives New Zealand?
I think there is good understanding about the need to preserve the statutory independence of the National Librarian and Chief Archivist.
Both the National Library of New Zealand and Archives New Zealand are internationally recognised as enduring cultural institutions in any country.
What happens next and when?
We have set up a CEs Steering Group to lead the implementation and this group meets weekly. This includes me, Brendan Boyle, CE of the Department of Internal Affairs and Greg Goulding, the Acting Chief Executive and Chief Archivist of Archives New Zealand.
One of our priorities is to agree a vision for the new department.
Although this will be a new organisation, we have common values. The National Library states a key purpose as: “Connecting New Zealanders to information important to all aspects of their lives”.An Archives New Zealand value is: “Connecting our communities with the nation’s records”.
Internal Affairs’ purpose is to: “Serve and connect citizens, community and government to build a strong, safe nation”. We are all committed to this objective: “the services we deliver today will be better tomorrow”. So it’s a great start – the customer comes first.
The senior teams of our three organisations will meet next week so we can find out more about the significant capability of each organisation and what we can each contribute.
This week, the Chair of LIAC, Don Hunn and I met with the Solicitor-General and Auditor-General to understand options and any precedent we could draw from across the state sector which would both protect the integrity of the National Library and independence of the National Librarian while at the same time deliver on the Cabinet decision to amalgamate the National Library into the Department of Internal Affairs. It was an excellent meeting and subsequently the three CEs have developed some questions that would test that there were no unintentional changes to the Act that c ould threaten the integrity of the Act.
What to expect next over the new few weeks:
Changes to the legislation will be drafted
There have been several OIAs and it is expected that information will be released later next month.
When the relevant legislation goes to the Select Committee it is anticipated there will be opportunities for submissions.
There will be regular updates to the sector and stakeholders. This will be the last message from me alone on this matter; later messages will come from all CEs.
Because librarians are passionate advocates of freedom of access to information, you have my personal assurance as National Librarian that the sector will be kept fully informed and importantly, through SAF, LIAC and the Guardians, will be consulted so they can help shape these new directions. I will be preparing the way for the new structure by introducing stakeholders to the new arrangement and the people responsible for implementing them, and helping build productive working relationships.
On the New Generation strategy
We are going to be busy and business as usual remains a top priority.
National Library staff are full steam ahead on implementing our new generation modernisation programme. We have a demanding programme on our hands and it’s going well. New reading rooms have opened in Wellington as we commence the Wellington building upgrade; the collections are nearly decanted; mass digitisation of the pictorial collections is under way and new services are being designed. We are not an organisation unused to change but we certainly have a “gig on our hands”. During the new generation transformation, no job will remain unchanged and we are all up to it.
Ka kite ano and keep your questions coming.
National Librarian and Chief Executive
National Library of New Zealand