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The Library and Information Association of New Zealand (LIANZA) strongly supports the amendment bill and reintroduction of the well-beings to local government legislation. LIANZA believes that “providing for local authorities to play a broad role in promoting the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being, and taking a sustainable development approach”, will better support the value and impact that public libraries provide in communities.
Read more about the bill.
Sustainable Development Goals
There is a strong contribution from libraries to the UN Sustainable Development goals, in particular delivering access to information which underpins these goals: Quality education; Reduced inequalities; Decent work and economic growth; Industry, innovation and infrastructure; and Sustainable cities and communities.
The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been adopted by most countries in the world, including New Zealand Aotearoa. Many of the 17 goals include some targets with aspects of access to information. The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) points out in their tool Aust-Libraries-Sustainable-Development-Goals-Jan18.pdf, that universal literacy is critical to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and disadvantage. Free story-time and rhyme-time sessions delivered by public libraries directly contribute to building literacy skills. Libraries are not a nice to have recreational resource. They play a vital role in social development and equity.
“Freedom, prosperity and the development of society and of individuals are fundamental human values. They will only be attained through the ability of well-informed citizens to exercise their democratic rights and to play an active role in society. Constructive participation and the development of democracy depend on satisfactory education as well as on free and unlimited access to knowledge, thought, culture and information.
The public library, the local gateway to knowledge, provides a basic condition for lifelong learning, independent decision-making and cultural development of the individual and social groups.” IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto 1994.
Public library legislation
Ideally public libraries should be based on legislation, which assures their continuance and their place in the government structure. Internationally public library legislation is varied. It can be simple, allowing the establishment of public libraries but leaving standards of service to the level of government directly responsible for the library, or more complex, with specific detail on what services should be provided and to what standard. Examples of public library legislation are available on the IFLA website. http://www.ifla.org/V/cdoc/acts.htm. Of particularly note is the recent (2016) Finnish legislation. http://archive.ifla.org/V/cdoc/finnish.htm
Public library legislation should focus on outcomes, rather than prescriptive standards that could then be used to offer minimum service levels. Outcomes focus would allow local authorities to develop services that work in their own environment, such as the innovative partnership in Rotorua with a health board, school/public library partnerships such as in Riccarton, and for councils to work with local mana whenua and communities.
There should be principles that would remove barriers for equitable access, such as free membership and borrowing/access to content whether in print or on-line. There is potential for legislation to provide better frameworks for collaboration or shared services across local authorities and with central government, to provide more equitable library services more efficiently and reaching more New Zealanders.
LIANZA is the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa / Te Rau Herenga o Aotearoa.