We can’t really pursue the idea of a New Zealand Public Library Service any further without discussing governance, management and financing. I had thought of dealing with them separately but they are linked so heavily it is impossible to do so.
Governance: Will this initiative be a standalone organisation? Could it be run from the National Library? Both options present different positives and negatives. If within the National Library it could potentially have its own advisory group. Within the National Library there may be more room for central government funding and it will be able call upon the experience and expertise housed with those walls more easily.
It could also be a standalone charitable trust. That would allow it to be more independent than if within the National Library. There is also the possibility of it being an incorporated society or even a company. The more I think about it, the more I favour the NZPLS being part of a the National Library, something like the APNK is now.
Management: There would need to be some central management, and a number of functions could be performed on that basis. This would depend on how much was contracted out from local government. Would the NZPL administer all of the libraries on contract to the local authorities? Or would it only administer the library parts? I am thinking of HR and the like here. My preferred option is a total contracting out.
Financing: Now there’s the tricky bit which is going to put the halt on any such initiative. For it to work fairly and efficiently there would need to be a standard charge to all local authorities, probably based on a per ratepayer basis. Getting buy-in and agreement across all councils would be a Herculean task, and the main stumbling block for this idea.
Linked into all that is the current properties and stock. Would council retain ownership of the buildings? The stock? Would the NZPL have to purchase buildings, or lease them? And how would it finance new developments fairly across the country. These I think are the questions that will cause the most problems.