National Librarian, Bill Mcnaught, said to LIANZA:
The New Zealand Government has invested an extraordinary amount of money in the National Library and Archives NZ, both in new infrastructure and ongoing service support. Our role in supporting public libraries through the COVID recovery period has also been acknowledged with unprecedented financial support announced last Friday by our Minister, Hon Tracey Martin. I am now working with partners including LIANZA to make sure we use this money to achieve the most positive impact as soon as possible.
Message from Bill Macnaught, National Librarian
Last Friday, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon Tracey Martin announced details of Budget 2020 recovery package for New Zealand libraries. The funding will support librarians and library services to be retained in New Zealand libraries and assist them to support community recovery.
Demand for library services will be going up at a time when local authorities will be facing revenue challenges. Public libraries play an important role in addressing the digital divide and a reduction in library services would affect vulnerable communities.
This funding will provide the opportunity to improve reading, literacy and wellbeing outcomes in communities; support building digital literacy among those who have been most excluded from online services and information during the pandemic or have lost jobs consequently; and create new digital resources to support online learning for students.
This will primarily utilise and build skills and experience of librarians currently employed in the local government sector, particularly where they otherwise risk losing their own jobs.
The $58.8m of funding over four years includes:
- $30 million over two years to fund and upskill librarians in public libraries so they can provide greater support for library users and help bolster reading and digital literacy.
- $4 million over four years to extend the National Library’s Aotearoa Peoples’ Network Kaharoa (APNK) public internet service to all public libraries. This provides free access to the internet and devices for any member of the public.
- $11.5m over two years to help maintain library services by waiving National Library subscription charges to libraries
- $13.3m over four years for specialist library services to help schools and young people with the greatest need during the recovery.
The package also includes a 20% increase to the Public Lending Right fund – the money that is paid to New Zealand authors that have books available through our public libraries. The $1.6 million extra over four years is the first increase to the fund since 2008.
We are working to start a rapid co-design process with key partners in the library sector to shape the implementation of the programme from July 2020. I want to ensure that we make the best use of this short-term investment to support jobs in libraries, recognising the work that librarians do to support job-seekers, learners and others during this time of economic hardship.
We can make a significant contribution to the continued wellbeing of communities by working more closely with libraries across New Zealand.
Friday’s announcement acknowledges the vital role of libraries in ensuring New Zealanders have the literacy skills to achieve social, educational and employment success and can easily access, share and use New Zealand’s knowledge resources.
We can share more detail in the coming days. In the meantime, we are setting up a webpage at https://natlib.govt.nz/about-us/collaborative-projects where you will be able to find out the latest information about the programme.