You'll remember that back in July we put a call-out, crowd-sourcing questions that our members want to ask of list or electoral candidates from any political party. We have now complied a list of questions, which will be sent to government ministers, opposition spokespeople and other political candidates.
Supporting digital inclusion has become everyday work for libraries and library staff (Hartnett, 2020). With public libraries in 314 towns and cities around the country, plus libraries in schools, tertiary institutions and prisons, our sector plays an essential role in facilitating digital inclusion.
What would your party do to ensure that libraries can effectively implement strategies to increase digital inclusion in their communities?
Libraries are integral to lifelong learning with events, creative spaces, programmes and information sharing that can make more of an impact on the community than just lending material. As the last non-commercial space available to many people, libraries play an incredibly important role in engaging with and meeting the needs of their local community. Libraries help connect people to information on literacy, health, job applications, computer and internet training, resume writing, housing and everything else, all for free (Balchin, 2019). Libraries play a vital role as community hubs where people can get practical help during tough economic times, providing spaces where people can meet, relax, exchange ideas, learn, share and read, regardless of their income, faith, employment or housing status. Post-Covid-19 there is an increase in angry, scared, grief-filled people who have never needed to access government and social services before and shame, embarrassment and despair are key reactions. Libraries are experiencing an upsurge in people needing support to move ahead with their lives.
How would your party ensure that all NZ public libraries are enabled by local government to support the increase in need in their communities?
Young people in New Zealand are facing a mental health crisis, with unique challenges faced by young Māori and Pacific people, particularly girls (Menzies et al., 2020). Our youth suicide rate is the second-worst at 14.9 deaths per 100,000 adolescents, more than twice the average among the 41 OECD countries surveyed (UNICEF, 2020). Again, the children most at risk are Māori, and children living rurally and in low-socio economic areas.
How would your party leverage and support the role that school, public and tertiary libraries play in providing safe community spaces and support for our youth?
There is no requirement for New Zealand primary and secondary schools to provide library spaces or services. This results in a lack of equity for students; some have access to a school library led by a school librarian and many do not have a library at their school or access to a library service. A recent international report shows that only 64.6 per cent of 15-year-olds in NZ have basic proficiency in reading and maths (UNICEF, 2020). A survey of all New Zealand schools in 2018 and 19 highlighted that a school library is essential for promoting and supporting reading for pleasure, supporting the achievement of 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 NZ primary and secondary students to a school library staffed by a qualified librarian?
Digitisation of local knowledge
Libraries play a role in ‘telling stories of the now” for our future generations; collecting, preserving and providing access to the documentary heritage of their local communities. Libraries are playing a key role in documenting the national and local response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 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. Without accessible documentary evidence of where a society has come from, it cannot understand itself or move forward.
What will your party do to enable more libraries to digitise the documentary heritage of their local communities ?
Sustainable Development Goals
Libraries play a key role helping the New Zealand government to fully engage in its commitment and obligations to the global UN 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (Greer & Morris, 2019). Libraries play a vital role in helping our country to make progress on many SDG’s including;
SDG 3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
SDG 4 – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
SDG 5 – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls;
SDG 11 – Make cities and human settlements inclusive safe, resilient and sustainable
SDG 16 – Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
What will your party do to ensure that New Zealand makes progress to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and would you appoint a lead agency for this work?
Access to research
New Zealanders deserve access to publicly funded research and our researchers require access to international research, but 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).
How would your party support a move to “open access” publishing for publicly-funded research?
Balchin, J. (2019, September 12). Our public libraries play a vital role. Otago Daily Times. https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/our-public-libraries-play-vital-role
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
Menzies, R., Gluckman, P., & Poulton, R. (2020). Youth Mental Health in Aotearoa New Zealand: Greater urgency required. Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures, University of Auckland. https://informedfutures.org/wp-content/uploads/Youth-Mental-Health-in-Aotearoa-NZ.pdf
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