Posts Tagged ‘National Library of New Zealand’

So the National Library has announced a fundamental change to its Services to Schools and it’s a terrible idea. The National Library is transforming its Services to Schools

Why is it a terrible idea? I’m glad you asked.

First up let’s look at what they are planning

Reading Engagement Lending Service

The emphasis of the new service will be on supporting students to read for pleasure, as a foundation for learning achievement. The content of loans will be quality fiction and high interest non-fiction resources to support reading for pleasure.

We’ll be supporting the whole school with a substantial loan that everyone can access, and you can keep the resources for a year. Loans will also no longer go to individual teachers and librarians.

So instead of sending teachers the books they need, they are going to send the school a whole lot of random books. Who at the school is going to monitor and store these books?  Poor school librarians who already HAVE LIBRARIES FILLED WITH QUALITY FICTION AND HIGH INTEREST NON-FICTION RESOURCES! Libraries that are already faced with pressures to their shelving?

So no longer will a teacher be able to say “I need a class set of resources that help me look at beaches” which a school library can’t resource. Nope – instead they are going to try and supplant the work of the School libraries that already exists.


After a large outcry the National Library has pushed back the timeline on the changes

However the substance of the changes remain – which in effect prolongs the assault on school libraries and can only impact negatively on student outcomes.


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Coming through the email inbox today was an email from Penny Carnaby to the NZ-Libs list informing us that she is stepping down as National Librarian and Chief Executive of the National Library.

I would just like to send out a thank you to Penny, as she has been a tireless advocate for libraries over her tenure as National Librarian. Not only has she been passionate about libraries, but she has also been forward thinking in driving the Digital Strategies of the National Library. I found my self nodding in agreement to a lot of her speeches, especially when Penny has discussed the Delete Generation.

I wish her the best in her future endeavours.  I also wonder if she would be interested in blogging and if a cheeky invitation to the blogging community would be well received 🙂


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DigitalNZ, part of The National Library of New Zealand, are part of those bring this exciting competition!

It’s on now, so have a go! The Great Kiwi Mix And Mash!

Great Prizes:

Cash, prizes, and glory, including the $10,000 award for the supreme mashup (thanks to InternetNZ), the $5,000 award for an outstanding mashup (thanks to Microsoft) and a Macbook Pro and MinoHD Flip camera for the supreme remix (thanks to Creative Commons NZ

mix & mash aims to encourage the use of New Zealand content and data. Make the most of the awesome material out there!

Come on, lets see just how creative we Kiwi’s can be!

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Last week Jim Traue had this opinion piece published in the Otago Daily Times about the merger, I mean integration, of The national Library, New Zealand Archives and the Department of Internal affairs.  When I read it I had a curmudgeonly response, mostly because the article got me angry. It wasn’t a full response and Jim dropped by the blog to say he didn’t understand why I was angry.

I have been thinking on how to respond without provoking a flame war, which is why it has taken me awhile to compose this. That and the day job got in the way. 🙂

Firstly my general response:

As readers may know, I am not philosophically opposed to the idea of the integration.  New Zealand as a nation is relatively small, and it seems to me that if we have a number of government departments all within shouting distance of each, and all running  fairly similar operations, why do they need a duplication of administrative functions? I share the concerns that Jim and others have that the integration will dilute the abilities of the organisations to function properly, and will have a negative impact on statutory officeholders.  How ever I have been comforted by the approach of the C.E.O.s to the integration, and while the rational from the ministers has been a little sparse, the documents from those implementing the integration have had enough detail to temper those concerns.

Jim asks do I agree with the precept that “1, “personal identity information, information relating to the ownership of property, public records, official statistics, electoral rolls, and published and unpublished documentary material and images” are all “civic information”.”

My answer would be why yes I do. ALL that information is of vital historical importance.  Jim is implying that personal identity records are of a lesser value to personal archives which is to my mind wrong.  Historians and genealogists rely on that information to gather an accurate picture of society in general.  The personal records give a vital view of how the individual works within that society. It may be that this move will accord those records with a greater respect.

Jim also then asks whether I agree with  “2, Therefore, the Dept of Internal Affairs, because it has “the enhanced technology capacity and expertise to enable New Zealanders to access information” should control the National Library and Archives New Zealand.”

No, not necessarily, but if the three organizations are doing very similar work, then eliminating unnecessary duplication can be beneficial.

To address why I was angry. In the original piece, my reading of it implied that Jim was dismissive of the current workers in their ability to act professionally. This was in part informed from his email alerting nz-libs to the article, in which he asks if “The national library have been hoisted on their own petards”. Since I have a lot of respect for the current holders of office in the National Library, I was angry at the pattern of denigration I have perceived, that Jim has used in his writings with reference to those office holders.

As a couple of points of counter argument to Jim’s view that the Department of Internal Affairs is somehow going to run down the other institutions or will not value them. The DIA currently puts out some fabulous resources, such as the Jock Hobbs Te Are [Encyclopedia Of New Zealand]. If they value that, why won’t they value the archives or library? Yes over the last century there are examples of bureaucracy making poor decisions, but we also should remember that as a stand alone department for the last twenty years the National Library has been in a leaky building!

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Sigh. Jim Traue weighs in on THAT merger.  There are a number of aspects of his opinion piece that I can agree with, and there are a number of aspects of that I disagree with. I am however finding it difficult to formulate a proper response, because it has got me angry.

Why am I an angry? Because, and I may be wrong in my reading, I found the article insulting to the dedicated professionals that work at both the National Library and Archives New Zealand.  A great swath of the hyperbole seems to be based on the assumption that the Librarians and Archivists working in those institutions would somehow view the treasures entrusted to them with less care than they do now.

Quite frankly Jim owes a lot of people an apology after that.

Plan to integrate collections is dangerous nonsense [Otago Daily Times]

The Government plans to merge the National Library and Archives New Zealand into the Department of Internal Affairs. Jim Traue has serious reservations.

John Milton’s body will spin in its grave on the other side of the world when his spirit receives the message that Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes, his other poems and political pamphlets, including his classic defence of freedom of expression, highlights of the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library, are now all equated by Her Majesty’s Government in New Zealand with the registers of births, deaths and marriages in the Department of Internal Affairs.

It’s enough to make the man a raving republican.

The Maori Party, the Iwi Leaders Group and Maori voters will be incandescent when they discover that their taonga held by the Turnbull, its collections of Maori language books, periodicals, newspapers and manuscripts, now have the same mana as the electoral rolls.

Thousands of sons and daughters who have entrusted private family letters, diaries and photographs to the Turnbull because they trusted the library to preserve them and ensure they would be used with proper sensitivity will be ropable that they are now classified as “civic information” on a par with the census records gathered by Statistics New Zealand.

Katherine Mansfield will be very bitchy at the thought that the manuscripts of her short stories, poems, letters and diaries are just like passport documentation.

Susan Price and Dorothy Neal White will be flabbergasted that their fine libraries of children’s books, highlights of the National Library’s research collections, are “civic information”, lumped in with the records of naturalisation, gambling, lottery grants and film censorship.

Charles Heaphy VC will be appropriately heroic when he learns that his paintings and drawings of early New Zealand are equivalent to the land registration records held by Land Information New Zealand.

Read the rest here.

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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


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.


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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