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Archive for the ‘legislation’ Category


Webstock used to be my no-miss conference until this week. It’s like a combined rock festival and party for geeks – the learning and fun are intense and amazing. If Webstock was a keyword it would be “awesome”.

Nethui was not a rock festival, and less of a party in terms of headiness. Yes, there were superstars like Lessig. Yes the were miraculous acts of collaboration like the special on-off licence for that audience in that room granted by the BBC for a one-off showing of their documentary The Virtual Revolution. You might have watched it, but you can’t say you’re one of the few people in the country who have done so legally. Both of those wonderful things were not what the three days were about – quite the opposite.

The three days were about New Zealanders coming together to look at the challenges of the future and start the conversation around the question, “What do we do now?” It is easy to be brave in an environment in which one’s heroes are on the stage. At Nethui, we were required to be the heroes, in all our everyday ordinariness, speaking in that drab accent we wince at when we hear it from our neighbours and carrying all of the feelings of cultural unworth we New Zealanders seem to cherish.

There are plenty of good summations of the event available – I recommend Russell Brown‘s usual solid effort as a good starter for ten. You can even be a virtual attendee of large parts by viewing the videos collected here.

But if you weren’t there, and you had a question, answer or idea nobody else in the room did – then it wasn’t just you that missed out, it was all of us.

Don’t worry, libraries were well represented. In the last combined session on access, someone at one of the mics said the following:

“It’s not like you can go down to your local library for a lesson on how to use the internet.”

“Yes you can,” came a voice from the far side of the auditorium. I’m not sure who – but I have a suspicion it might have been a new friend from Dargaville. *waves* Whoever it was, they have my applause. *applauds*

When you’re “at the mic” you can often can only keep one thought in your head. “No, but you can’t just go your local library and…”

And then what you really should have been there for happened.

We, all of us from libraries, sitting wherever we were gave him the SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!

Zippy Shut Up. by stev.ie
Zippy Shut Up., a photo by stev.ie on Flickr.
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The process by which Archives New Zealand and The National Library are subsumed into the Department of Internal Affairs continues at full pace, with the release of the Integration Plan.  You sometimes have to quietly appreciate management speak. Calling the process an integration seems less ominous than a merger. Maybe there is less baggage with that terminology.

The plan itself looks to be quite fast passed. I did note that implementation starts in November, so that will mean that the inevitable redundancies from the process will start at just in time for Christmas. I feel for the staff.

The Questions and Answers on the new Integration site were fairly interesting. Of particular interest to me was this:

Statutory officers

Summary

There will be no change in the standing or functions of statutory officers.

Issues raised

The Chief Archivist and the National Librarian are statutory officers. Concern has been expressed that such officers should not be employees of a Chief Executive, but must be completely independent. It is argued that the changes announced by the Government will lead to a reduction in necessary independence, and make the Chief Archivist and National Librarian subject to undue influence. It is argued that the positions are similar to that of the auditor-general or the ombudsman, and should be treated in the same way.

Response

The Chief Archivist and National Librarian are statutory officers, but not officers of parliament, as are the Auditor-General and the Ombudsman. At present, they are employees of the State Services Commissioner. Under the Government decision to integrate, it is very likely that the Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs will appoint people to these positions. The Chief Executive would be the employer, rather than the State Services Commissioner, in the same way that the Chief Executive would be the employer of all staff in the new Department.

The Chief Archivist and the National Librarian will act independently, and not be subject to the direction of the Chief Executive in matters of their statutory authority.

They will be accountable to the Chief Executive for their effectiveness, efficiency, and managerial actions.

The positions will then have the same status as other statutory officers now within Internal Affairs, for example such as the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, the Chief Executive of the Local Government Commission and the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management. Examples in other departments include the Commissioner of Crown Lands, the Surveyor-General, the Registrar-General of Land and the Valuer-General, who are each employed by the Chief Executive of Land Information New Zealand.

It would be unlawful for the Chief Executive to interfere in the statutory decision-making of any of these officers, and unlawful for the statutory officer to accept such interference.

The intention of the three Chief Executives in advising Ministers is to ensure the legislation required by integration does not:

    • alter the nature of the services associated with Archives New Zealand or the National Library.
    • constrain the current levels of independence of the Chief Archivist and the National Librarian.
    • diminish the ability of key stakeholders to take action to protect the independence of the National Librarian and the Chief Archivist.
    • change the role of the Alexander Turnbull Library.
    • change the role of Ministerial Advisory Groups.

The following information was added on 9 June 2010:

Clarification has been sought on the exact scope under which the Chief Archivist and National Librarian would act independently of the Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs. The decisions that have been made to bring about the integration of the three departments have made clear that the legislative changes will give effect to: the Chief Archivist and the National Librarian being appointed by the Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs; the appointees being responsible to the Chief Executive, without predetermining reporting structures and without compromising the statutory roles they are responsible for performing; the intent that current statutory independent functions will be retained, including protection from improper influence.

Legislation will need to be introduced to Parliament before the end of the year and the implementation of the integration. Inevitably that legislation is likely to be fast tracked. When it does come down the stakeholders will need to go over it with a fine tooth comb to ensure that it does what the above response states.

Looking for a positive in the whole process, it may mean that The Chief Archivist and National Librarian will have more time to put their energies into their statutory roles, and have less administration to worry about. I am thinking that the best thing we as external observers can do is to engage in a positive manner to ensure that our concerns are dealt with properly.

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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.

Penny Carnaby

National Librarian and Chief Executive

National Library of New Zealand

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The good people at the National Library are conducting another Web Harvest. It is good to see that they learnt from the last one, and this time have a comprehensive policy for dealing with robots.txt rules. If you have a site that doesn’t fall under the .nz pre-selection criteria don’t forget to nominate it.

New Zealand web harvest 2010: The National Library is conducting a whole of domain web harvest between 12 and 25 May.

Why does the National Library collect websites?

The National Library exists to preserve New Zealand’s social and cultural history, whether in the form of books, newspapers and photographs, or of websites, blogs and videos.

The New Zealand Web Harvest 2010 harvest recognises the importance of the internet in all areas of New Zealand society and culture by taking a ‘snapshot’ of the New Zealand internet in May 2010.

Information for website owners

The harvest will run for approximately 14 days, from 12 to 25 May 2010.

The harvest will only collect publicly viewable web content. If your website, or parts of it, is password protected, this content will not be harvested.

We will harvest every domain in the .nz country code, and some others from .com, .net and .org. If you have a website outside .nz, you can ensure it is harvested and added to the Library’s collections by completing our Nomination form.

To submit a site map for harvesting, complete our Nomination form.

The web harvester will generally honour the robots.txt convention, with some exceptions. For example, if an image file is embedded in a web page, we will take a copy of that image file in order to have a complete copy of the web page.

If you set a robots.txt rule specifically for our harvester, NLNZHarvester2010, it will follow that rule strictly. However, we will always take a copy of a website’s homepage, regardless of the robots.txt rule.

If you have comments or questions, please complete our Feedback form.

About the whole of domain web harvest

The National Library has commissioned the Internet Archive (an American-based not-for-profit) to perform the harvest on our behalf.

  • We will attempt to acquire:
  • Websites that fall under the .nz country code
  • Websites that fall under .com. .net and .org that can be programmatically determined to be hosted on machines that are physically located in New Zealand
  • Selected websites based overseas that are covered by the provisions of the National Library of New Zealand Act (2003).

We estimate we will capture 130-140 million URLs, resulting in 7-8 terabytes of uncompressed data.

Keeping you informed

Notice of the harvest was first published on Thursday 8 April March 2010, giving a five-week notification period.

The Library will keep website owners and other affected parties up to date throughout the harvest via this web page.

Regular progress updates will be posted on our LibraryTechNZ blog, and various mailing lists and forums will also be used to communicate with website owners.

 

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Yesterday the government made it’s announcement of the various proposed restructurings that were rumoured last week, including the merging of National Library and Archives into the Department of Internal Affairs.

Like most Government documents the “Cabinet Paper” detailing the rational and the proposed actions is a longish, dry paper, full of management and political speak. Most people would put it down within thirty seconds of picking it up. I wonder if they do that on purpose?

Anyway the bits that concern us are from page 9.  As I have said previously I have no philosophical objections to such a merger, being of the mind that for a small country do we really need so many departments replicating work. While I know centralisation doesn’t necessary mean efficiencies, there is a good argument to be made for attempting go gain efficiencies through centralisation and pooling of resources. My biggest concern was in the dilution of the scope and purpose of the Chief Librarian and Archivist, and the place of the Turnbull within the resulting amalgamation.

So the following part was of small comfort:

“Risks have been considered and can be mitigated. We are conscious that stakeholders are likely to express concerns that specialist services and skills in the separate departments would be lost. While Archives New Zealand and the National Library are currently well regarded and successful institutions, the prospective role of an enlarged DIA is not as well understood. Officials consider that good change management and communications can mitigate these risks. Stakeholder concerns could include a view that the Chief Archivist’s independence or archival practice would be undermined, or that the separate status of the Alexander Turnbull Library would be threatened. This risk can be mitigated by retaining, with only necessary minor amendments, the legislative provisions which currently set out the role and powers of Chief Archivist and National Librarian, together with associated bodies such as the Archives Council. However, it is unlikely that mitigation of risk in these ways will allay a level of publicly expressed concern.”

They are right. It won’t allay publicly expressed concern, especially with such a lack of detail. My biggest fear is by the time we get the detail we need, what we find out will be all wrong and it will be too late.

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It was announced, or was it rumoured but not denied, earlier on in the week that the National Library and Archives New Zealand were possibly to be taken into the Department of Internal Affairs, and not have there own stand alone agencies. I have been waiting for more details to come out on this, but alas I have seen nothing. While on one hand I can see the economic sense in bringing them in house to one administrative department, I also can see philosophical and technical difficulties that would need to be overcome.

I was glad then to see LIANZA putting out the following press release.  I too am concerned over lack of consultation, or any sort of documentation. Are we chasing at windmills or is this a serious proposal?   

LIANZA concerned over lack of information and consultation over proposed merger affecting the National Library

The Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA), is concerned there has been no detailed information released to date about the Government proposal to merge the National Library of New Zealand and Archives New Zealand within the Department of Internal Affairs.

Libraries adhere to the general principle of Freedom of Information whereas the Department of Internal Affairs has a censorship role which could potentially result in a conflict.

The National Library enriches the cultural and economic life of New Zealanders by supplementing and furthering the work of other libraries across the country. The National Library allows New Zealanders to be connected with information through the protection of New Zealand’s documentary heritage, ensuring that access to information is facilitated and that New Zealanders are skilful and confident in using information.

LIANZA fears that a merger could compromise the vision and core services of the National Library and this could ultimately decrease literacy skills in New Zealand.

The National Library provides national frameworks, knowledge systems and professional guidance to all New Zealand libraries and is a key partner in ensuring effective collaboration with others in the cultural and education sectors. It also enjoys an international reputation as an innovative leader in regard to preservation and access to culture and heritage.

LIANZA and the National Library have a very long working relationship; the Association played a strong advocacy role by lobbying government between 1911 and 1945 which resulted in the establishment of the National Library.

LIANZA would expect that any structural changes made would enhance rather than detract from the many services provided by the National Library and enjoyed by New Zealanders today.

As a key stakeholder LIANZA has a lot to contribute and would appreciate the opportunity to be involved in the wider consultation process.

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Or more importantly, the importance of Public Libraries.

Some more light reading came across my desk via that wonderful thing called the Internet. The reading being, the American Library Association Comments to Federal Communications Commission on In the Matter of:  International Comparison and Consumer Survey Requirements in the Broadband Data Improvement Act , A National Broadband Plan for Our Future, Inquiry Concerning the Deployment of Advanced Telecommunications Capability to All Americans in a Reasonable and Timely Fashion, and Possible Steps to Accelerate Such Deployment Pursuant to Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, as Amended by the Broadband Data Improvement Act. It’s a hard job sometimes, but someone’s got to do it.

I have commented previously on why I think public libraries are important, but I am not sure that I have ever managed to encapsulate or enunciate my thinking as clearly as I would have liked. This document is probably one of the clearest and best written summaries on why public libraries are important that I have read.

It gives five points as to why Public Libraries are so important to communities and are central to any thinking on providing broadband access in a national context.  Here are the standout parts of the document for me:

“There are currently 16,543 public library outlets in communities across the nation. Libraries are found in virtually every community in the United States.1 These libraries play a vital role in their communities in supporting workforce development, small business creation, education from the cradle through higher and continuing education, and access to government resources through public access computer terminals. Communities throughout the nation are reporting an increase in patron visits to the library as the economy continues to suffer, unemployment continues to rise, and workers increasingly need to retool or refine skills.”

I. Community Hubs: Public libraries go beyond stopgap measures in creating and supporting economic opportunity. The added value libraries offer includes job training, information, and digital literacy programs

“The public library has a long history of meeting the information needs of its community. As local communities change, so do the services libraries offer so that patrons are able to access the most relevant information resources they need to live full and productive lives. In today’s economy, libraries across the nation are experiencing a constant demand for services related to job seeking and other employment issues. Today, library services commonly include, but are not limited to: job training and continuing education, resume writing, career counseling, and basic information literacy training, including digital literacy. These services most often require access to robust broadband.”

III. Broadband’s role in regional economic development: Libraries are critical institutions in supporting regional economic development

“Libraries that partner with local or state economic development agencies redouble the reach and impact of these efforts. At the same time, libraries are ―reducing the operation costs and broadening the outreach of other local workforce development agencies, contributing to a stronger community network for job readiness and worker ―retooling.”

V. Workforce development: The value of the public library’s suite of services cannot be overstated

 “Beyond providing basic services, libraries enrich their patron’s information needs with resources in a variety of formats. Librarians, experts in search technique, know that with the move to online resources, individuals seeking employment, business information, and skills training, may need assistance now more than ever. Specific populations, such as people recently laid off from long term employment, non-native English speakers, the older workforce, and new graduates often need targeted support.”

I would encourage everyone to go read in full.

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