Ngā Kaiwhakamārama i ngā Kohikohinga Kōrero (LIAC): A Year in the Life – 10 things I’ve learned as a Commissioner
It's been one year since being gazetted and announced as one of the commissioners to serve on Ngā Kaiwhakamārama i ngā Kohikohinga Kōrero – Library and Information Advisory Commission (LIAC). It would not be an understatement to say that this was a milestone felt by many in the library and information sector as inspiring and making good sense, so I have been told. I often get the eyes-wide look when people find out what I do and then the follow-through question, ‘So, what’s it like?’ Well, settle in, grab a snack and coffee as I relive 10 things I’ve experienced or learned in my first year as a commissioner.
- What is LIAC?
Ngā Kaiwhakamārama i ngā Kohikohinga Kōrero – Library and Information Advisory Commission is a statutory body established under Section 22 of the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) Act 2003 (the Act) amended 2010. The Act provides the statutory framework for the Commission.
- How do you get nominated?
I was nominated as a result of the work I have done within the sector on a local, national and international level. One of the key aspects for LIAC is mātauranga Māori, so being able to contribute to this wider discussion made my particular set of skills and experience worthy of nomination. Advisory commissions need a good combination of background experience, skills, qualifications and personal qualities to provide the foundation for a high-performing commission. The recruitment and appointment process is a critical first step to ensuring effective members are appointed.
- What is LIAC’s purpose?
The Commission’s purpose is to provide advice to the Minister of Internal Affairs (the Minister) on library and information issues in New Zealand, including Mātauranga Māori, and access to library and information services; the role of library and information services, including Mātauranga Māori, in the cultural and economic life of New Zealand; and any other matters requested by the Minister.
- Have you met the Minister?
We were scheduled to meet with the Minister in September 2019, however this was not possible. So, kāore anō, not yet.
- When was your first meeting and how was it?
I was appointed in November 2018, so my first face-to-face meeting was in March 2019. It was great to meet the other commissioners, listen and observe work already in progress, and contribute. It was a full day and it was fantastic – a good introduction to a LIAC meeting and kaupapa. The active issues under discussion at that time included the Ministerial Review of National Archival and Library Institutions (NALI), the copyright issues paper, which is hoped will lead to legislative review, storage and accommodation strategies for the National Library and Archives NZ, and future direction for Māori subject-headings work.
- Can anyone read the LIAC reports to the Minister?
Reports from LIAC to the Minister are confidential, which is an important aspect of encouraging frank, independent advice. Meeting agendas are available on the LIAC site. We link our agendas to public contextual documents that we discuss and use in our work.
- How often does LIAC meet in a year?
The Commission meets at least four times per year. The venue for the meetings will be in a location that is appropriate at the time. Pursuant to the work programme, other meetings may be arranged as required. There will be an agenda for each meeting. The Commission usually meets in Wellington at the National Library but efforts are made to have one meeting a year in another part of the country to provide wider perspectives to LIAC’s discussions.
- How many members are on LIAC?
The Commission consists of up to six members and the National Librarian as an ex-officio member. Members must be persons who have special knowledge or qualifications that are relevant to the purpose and functions of the Commission in the Minister’s opinion. The Minister is able to appoint any other persons who have the appropriate experience, knowledge and skills. Membership can be varied from time to time as the Minister sees fit. Further information about members is available here. I have enjoyed meeting the other Commissioners – it’s valuable to have a range of experience around the table, not just from the library profession but also people with a background in allied fields.
- What does LIAC do?
The Minister has the broad expectation that the Commission will:
- provide strategic thinking and advice on the library and information sector – in its broadest sense. It will provide a collective view of issues, options and opportunities in a fast-changing environment;
- will take a broad view of the issues confronting the sector;
- will serve as a forum for strategic debate in the library and information sector. It will be familiar with key and emergent issues at a national and international level. Its work will promote high-level partnerships and collaboration with related sectors, such as education and culture and heritage; and
- the work programme will draw on, and collaborate with other agencies and initiatives involved in community, economic and cultural development.
To deliver effective independent advice to the Minister, we meet regularly (both formally and informally) with other groups and stakeholders.
We are always interested in hearing from other voices within the field, so please get in touch with any commissioner if there’s an issue you think
should be on our radar.
Te Paea Paringatai is the Manager Customer Services, Central Library at the University of Canterbury. She is actively involved with international library networks, having served in the IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) Library Services to Multicultural Populations Section, as a Standing Committee member, and in her current role as Chair for the Indigenous Matters Section. Te Paea is professionally registered and an Associate of LIANZA. She has served both as President of LIANZA 2016-2017 and as President of Te Rōpū Whakahau 2012-2016. In recognition of her leadership and influence, Te Paea was awarded the Te Rōpū Whakahau Meri Mygind Wahine Toa Award in 2016.