Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa
Te Rau Herenga O Aotearoa

Advocacy in Action: summary of LIANZA's meeting with Minister of Internal Affairs

LIANZA attended a meeting last Monday with the Hon Tracy Martin, Minister of Internal Affairs, to discuss issues raised by LIANZA in the briefing documents sent to the new coalition government in November 2017. 

LIANZA was represented by Louise LaHatte, President, Paula Eskett, President-Elect and Ana Pickering, Executive Director. The Minister began by inviting the LIANZA team to outline current issues in the library sector. The importance of introducing legislation covering public libraries, based on outcomes rather than prescriptive standards that clarify accountabilities across central and local government was discussed.

Prison libraries
The Minister was interested in the connections between public libraries and school and prison libraries. She shared a recent experience of a visit to a remand centre with very poor provision of reading resources for young people. This conversation was then extended to share LIANZA insight into the current state of prison libraries, in particular, the lack of equitable provision for resourcing and staffing, and the vital role these library services and librarians have in developing and fostering literacy skills in preparation for life after prison. 
 
Public libraries
The role of public libraries in enabling citizens to participate digitally with the government was covered and the Minister was aware of the role librarians across the country played in assisting people to engage in the recent online census. The changing role of libraries, the increasing co-design of services with local communities and the vital role of all libraries to support life-long learning and the well-being of communities was highlighted, with the example of the recent opening of Te Aka Mauri incorporating the Rotorua Library and Children's Health hub.  The Minister was interested in how libraries are engaging with communities that do not historically use libraries, and used an example of some Pasifika communities in Auckland. The removal of library fines for children’s books by many Councils was highlighted as a way to increase library use by families. LIANZA highlighted how public library legislation could include principles that would remove barriers to equitable access, such as; free membership, borrowing and access to print and digital content.  
 
Some examples of progressive public library legislation were provided and the Minister was keen to learn more in particular about Public Library legislation in Finland.
 
School libraries
A discussion developed focusing on current challenges faced by the school library sector in particular; variable resource allocations for school library collections, increasing concerns about inclusion of space for the school library in school builds and re-developments, remuneration for those working in school libraries including the lack of professional development and support available. The Minister was aware of examples where teachers are given a management unit to ‘run the library’ and understood the impact of understaffed school libraries and unqualified library staff on the potential to deliver quality teaching and learning support to students, teachers and whānau.  LIANZA highlighted that while there were many examples of great informal connections between public and school libraries, these are more often based on one:one relationships between librarians, rather than being required by legislative frameworks and sustained by organisations. 
 
LIANZA shared with the Minister the range of working groups operated by LIANZA members, which focus on specific issues and opportunities for the Aotearoa’s library and information sector, in particular the LIANZA Standing Committee on Copyright, and discussions briefly touched on the need for the review of the outdated 1994 Copyright Act to better serve New Zealanders in a digital by default era.

30 Year Education Plan
LIANZA was delighted to receive an invitation from the Minister for LIANZA to participate in the upcoming regional summits being planned to begin developing the coalition governments 30 year approach to education. It is encouraging to have the opportunity for members to be involved in this very significant review of education and the recognition by the Minister of the pivotal role of all libraries in the education of New Zealanders from ‘cradle to grave’. 
 
In addition, LIANZA has also heard back this week from the Hon Grant Robertson, Associate Minister for Arts Culture & Heritage. He noted in his letter the comments in the LIANZA briefing about the NZ Labour Party Manifesto 2017 policy commitments as they relate to Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand. While there are a number of considerations that need to be taken into account in the development of advice on this issue he appreciated the perspective of LIANZA given the organisations strong interest and experience in the sector. 


LIANZA was also approached by Radio NZ to give an interview about the meeting with Minister Martin. The interview with Ana and Paula was aired on Sunday 25th March on the Standing Room Only programme

You can listen to the interview here. 

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