The New Zealand Libraries Partnership Project (NZLPP) enabled libraries to support their communities through COVID and to embed digital inclusion in their everyday activities. The NZLPP funding was a one-off and implemented without a plan to develop sustainable outcomes to enable libraries to continue supporting digital inclusion. Since then, more and more communities are seeking support from library staff to help them access front-line public services.
The implementation of the Strategy for a Digital Public Service is transforming public services to “operate in the digital world in a more modern and efficient way”. The strategy pushes more people towards libraries for help as they try to access public services without the skills and tools to navigate the digital world.
What would your party do to ensure that libraries can be an effective strategic partner for the government to enable digital equity and increase digital inclusion in their communities to support equitable access to public services and civic participation?
The following actions by local government form part of our Green Party Local Government policy in areas where internet poverty or the digital divide is a significant issue:
- Offer free, convenient public internet access, such as in public libraries, community centres, and through neighbourhood wi-fi hotspots.
- Resource community organisations, including marae, to support residents to engage with digital processes.
- Ensure processes function equally well for people without the ability to engage with digital services.
- Remove other barriers to digital participation.
Libraries serve as a vital hub for community digital equity efforts. From access to free Wi-Fi and computers to many also offering basic programming suites that may be out of the reach of lower-income New Zealanders the role of the library to foster digital education and opportunities for learning is important. National will continue to build on these important roles for libraries nationwide as we develop our digital inclusion policies focusing around furthering the zero-rating of public websites, greater access to connectivity and support community-led initiatives for advancing digital literacy so no one is left behind.
ACT believe libraries are local public infrastructure, governed and funded by local government. ACT will amend the Local Government Act to ensure that councils are focused on their core roles of public infrastructure.
Equity of access to library and information support is not assured for all Aotearoa New Zealand citizens.
An inequity exists between areas with large and well-funded local government funding through rates, and therefore have well-resourced libraries, and those rural areas that don't. There is also inequitable access to library and information resources in under-resourced areas such as prison and school libraries.
In our submission to the Future for Local Government Review 2023, LIANZA made a strong case for central government funding to support public libraries where they are delivering national benefits, for example in relation to digital equity and inclusion, civic participation, literacy, learning, social wellbeing and care of cultural and documentary heritage. LIANZA stated that the current model is not sustainable and not fair on ratepayers.
How would your party address these inequities? Please explain whether your party would support the funding of library and information services from a national fund?
We are open to this. The Green Party supports the allocation of a set share of central government revenue to local government as well as the provision of a framework for local government expenditure that includes projections for necessary investment in services such as libraries.
ACT has no policy for a national fund for libraries.
Supporting digital equity has become everyday work for library and information services. What we learned from COVID times was that people struggled to get the information they needed. This was especially so for rural communities, students, older people, Māori and Pacific peoples. Having systems such as the APNK Network available was one way to ensure isolated people had digital access and could access the information they needed.
What is your party's position on requiring the government to fully fund the APNK Network in Aotearoa libraries to address digital equity issues?
The Green Party strongly supports actions to establish secure, publicly accessible digital services in areas with a significant digital divide, such as public libraries, including free wireless internet access. Central government should be providing funding to services such as APNK that provide a national benefit and address the inequality of the digital divide.
The APNK model operates on a cost-sharing model between the National Library alongside local councils with the programme up for review in 2025. It is important that digital equity schemes can be community led and, in the case of APNK, Councils processes could determine better how to reach their communities with best value for money as well as noting the wider accessibility options that may be available in each part of our country.
ACT has no policy on this.
Internationally, libraries are seeing challenges with requests to remove certain books from their collections.
In Aotearoa New Zealand, citizens hold various viewpoints and interests. While adhering to the appropriate legal parameters, libraries avoid censoring and promote non-discrimination. Libraries support people’s right to freedom of information. They will not remove books from their collections simply because the book offends one section of the community if it meets a library's review process.
What is your party's stance on ‘freedom of information’ to ensure libraries have an inclusive collection that represents the diversity of their communities?
The Green Party
The Green Party supports libraries ensuring that there is no arbitrary censorship in their collections. We support people’s right to freedom of information, and the need for libraries to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
National believes in the freedom of expression and right to information. We have rigid processes in New Zealand for determining harmful and illegal content through the mechanisms of the Office of Film and Literature Classification, alongside other media sector reviewers such as the New Zealand Media Council and the Broadcasting Standards Authority. We encourage people to participate in the Safer Online Services consultation process which you can do here (https://www.dia.govt.nz/safer-online-services-media-platforms-consultation)
ACT’s commitment to freedom of speech is absolute. ACT applaud the statement that libraries “will not remove books from their collections simply because the book offends one section of the community”. It is for local libraries to have collections that reflect the demands of their communities.
Critical thinking is a key skill in media and information literacy, and a mission of libraries is to educate and advocate its importance. Discussions about fake news and scamming stemming from the mainstream application of AI in this space, along with the increased usage of tools such as Chat GPT, have led to a new focus on information literacy more broadly. Hence the role of libraries and other educational institutions in addressing this area has increased.
What support does your party see is necessary in this area and how can they support libraries and educational institutions working to combat misinformation and the negative effects of AI?
The Green Party
- While technology can offer processes and insights that can help address challenging problems, it is also true that new and developing technologies present risks of abuse and unintended consequences to people, society and ecosystems. The Green Party will be focused on ensuring appropriate regulation is in place for how it is used, including transparency requirements.
- We are concerned about the potential disruptive effect that AI tools could have on our democracy but at the same time, there is potential in tools like ChatGPT to combat fake news as well.
- Libraries are a key trusted destination for the public and should be supported by central and local government, including with funding and to help build information literacy.
The best way to combat misinformation is with access to more information. Encouraging communities to learn, to read and to debate is how we grow an informed society, Libraries should be spaces where those discussions and learning opportunities can take place, even if they are addressing tough and divisive conversations as it is through such conversations better understanding is able to be achieved. National encourages New Zealanders to read the findings of the Cross Party Parliamentary Briefing into Mis-Dis and Mal Information.
ACT has no policies in this area.
DIGITISATION OF LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
Libraries play a role in collecting the stories for future generations. Collecting, preserving and providing access to the documentary heritage of their local communities, especially with the new Aotearoa New Zealand Histories Curriculum in schools.
Libraries also house important taonga and partner with iwi Māori to tell their stories. They have a responsibility to partner and build relationships with Māori as kaitiaki to lead decisions on access, care, digitisation and ownership of taonga within library collections.
Digital preservation of heritage information and making it available in digital form is expensive and lack of funding, resources and time are challenges facing libraries.
What will your party do to enable more libraries to digitise the documentary heritage of their local communities?
The Green Party
The Green Party recognises that the arts and cultural heritage have an inherent value to our communities. We will ensure there are resources are available so that documentation, heritage collections that are important historically and culturally can be digitised.
The role of organisations like the Knowledge Bank in the Hawke’s Bay and the Mt Albert Historical Society, for instance, complemented by community library services, has ensured many parts of our country have been able to learn more about their forebears and the places we live in. National will continue to encourage communities to work with Archives NZ, the National Library and their local Council and private-led initiatives so that more New Zealanders can learn where they have come from. We also note long-term considerations that may encumber the preservation and accessibility of heritage information such as the Privacy Act, data sovereignty as well as limitations on ability to preserve are all important considerations to be addressed in the coming years.
As above, ACT wants to empower local communities, with a focus on the provision of local public infrastructure.
There is no requirement or specialised funding for schools in Aotearoa New Zealand to provide library spaces, services or staff. This means most students don’t have access to a school library run by a school librarian, even though only 64.6 percent of 15-year-olds in Aotearoa New Zealand have basic proficiency in reading and maths (UNICEF, 2020), and “reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success, more than family circumstances, parents’ educational background or income” (OECD, 2002).
A survey of all Aotearoa New Zealand schools highlighted that a library is essential for promoting and supporting reading for pleasure, achieving literacy standards, strengthening inquiry learning and teaching and enhancing students’ social and emotional learning and well-being (National Library of New Zealand, n.d.).
What will your party do to address the inequitable access of Aotearoa New Zealand primary and secondary students to a school library staffed by a qualified librarian?
The Green Party
Libraries are a crucial part of school communities and foster curiosity and ideas in the minds of Aotearoa’s future generations. The Green Party is committed to ensuring Aotearoa’s schools, both primary and secondary, have access to a school library staffed by a qualified librarian. We support adequate and targeted funding so primary and secondary students have access to library services.
No answer from National Party
ACT shares the horror at collapsing literacy standards in New Zealand. ACT’s solution is to have equity-based funding per student to attend the schools they and their parents want. It should be for individual schools and their boards to make decisions on what is best for their school.
New Zealanders deserve access to publicly funded research and our researchers require access to international research. However, most research information is hidden behind international paywalls. This limits access to information and innovation that underpins our economy. Students, researchers and the general public require access to this content and access is their right, as citizens and taxpayers, for purposes of education, historical research, development of government policies, for innovation in science and technology (Greer & Morris, 2019).
What will your party do to support a move to “open access” publishing for publicly funded research?
The Green Party
We are committed to open data and data sharing and have all the results of publicly funded research published and held in the public domain, with proceeds from patents, licensing, etc. being reinvested in the funding pool.
Yes, and greater collaboration on this issue should be undertaken by universities and other Academic institutions across New Zealand. It is important to note that ‘open access’ can lead to significant concerns around Privacy of information and data sovereignty as well as commercial sensitivities.
ACT - For public good research, yes. Not for commercial or industry research, which is likely to be commercially sensitive and have IP protection.
Aotearoa New Zealand is facing a review of the Copyright Act with profound implications for libraries, access to knowledge, and the creative economy. The global pandemic and climate change have pushed libraries to increasingly operate in and occupy the digital space. The Copyright Act 1994 has not been reviewed for thirty years and apart from minor tinkering, does not recognise the virtual library or users accessing resources online. Without meaningful and consistent input into the review process, there is every chance that the legislative changes could severely disadvantage libraries.
LIANZA want to see a review of the Copyright Act soon.
What is your party's position on ensuring the Copyright Act 1994 is reviewed? How will you ensure the library and information sector voice is included in that review?
The Green Party
- Given how much has changed since the Copyright Act 1994 was passed, there needs to be a significant review. It is really important that the library and information sector are treated as a key stakeholder in this review, this means early engagement as well as substantive discussion on what any proposed changes mean in practice for libraries.
- It is Green Party policy to develop copyright law that applies to digital works, is responsive to the realities of digitalisation, upholds the tino rangatiratanga of tangata whenua over Māori intellectual property, and holds the public interest in information flow in mind.
The National Party
We note there have been significant concerns in recent years surrounding the copyright of digital works and how operations such as the Internet Archive and other ‘site-scraping’ initiatives internationally may negatively and/or positively impact New Zealand data. When we return to Government, we will ensure that all appropriate voices have been heard before wider engagement.
ACT has no policies on the Copyright Act.
Greer, J., & Morris, M. (2019). The People’s Report on the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals: An alternate report for Aotearoa New Zealand. https://www.sdg.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Final_PeopleReport-2019-Dec-2019_for-web.pdf
Hartnett, M. (2020, January 26). Libraries as spaces for digital inclusion – an update. Equity Through Education. https://www.equitythrougheducation.nz/latest-news/2020/1/26/libraries-as-spaces-for-digital-inclusion-an-update
National Library of New Zealand. (n.d.). Importance of the school library in learning – the research. https://natlib.govt.nz/schools/school-libraries/understanding-school-libraries/importance-of-the-school-library-in-learning-the-research#nzresearch
UNICEF Innocenti. (2020). Worlds of influence: Understanding what shapes child well-being in rich countries (Innocenti Report Card 16). UNICEF Office of Research. https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/Report-Card-16-Worlds-of-Influence-child-wellbeing.pdf