Speech to the 100th anniversary of LIANZANational Library
Welcome everyone to Parliament's Grand Hall.
Thank you for inviting me here tonight to celebrate a remarkable milestone - the 100th anniversary for your organisation.
This centenary is a tribute to the dedication, commitment and passion of those involved in the Library sector over the last 100 years.
It's very appropriate we host this celebration here in Parliament as this is the home of one of New Zealand's first institutional libraries, the General Assembly Library, formed in 1858.
This is now known as the Parliamentary Library, and I understand Moira Fraser, the Parliamentary Librarian is here tonight. They still do a great job for MPs and the wider public with the fantastic information they provide.
Role of libraries and the library profession in our society
Libraries have a crucial role to play in a free, democratic society.
They are trusted civic spaces, giving New Zealanders from all walks of life the chance to explore new ideas, as well as our own rich history.
As the Minister responsible for the National Library I‘ve found the Library profession to be skilled, dedicated and ambitious.
People in this sector are passionate about what they do and deliver. They embrace technology and change, and the sector has positioned itself well to remain relevant to the society it supports.
I've been very impressed at the determination to improve access and services, using technology to do things that would have been unimaginable 100 years ago.
I can assure you that online content is only going to become more important in the future. The government has announced plans to invest $1.5 billion in rolling out broadband across the country.
Within the next 10 years we want to have ultra-fast broadband available to 75 percent of New Zealanders.
In effect, this is the pipeline - the challenge now is to make the most of this opportunity and fill those pipes with information into every home and school in New Zealand.
Can I say a few words about the integration of the National Library, Archives New Zealand and the Department of Internal Affairs, because I'm sure it's been a recent topic of discussion.
As the Minister for all three agencies I believe they share natural synergies. They all have a common focus on using digital technology, and making public information widely accessible to citizens.
The principle behind this integration is simple. It will allow expertise and resources to be combined, while at the same time sharing back office costs.
The bill has passed its first reading in Parliament and the select committee hearing is underway.
There has been good progress made in bringing the organisations together, and I've been impressed with the professionalism of the staff involved. There is a real commitment to maximising the benefits of this move.
Overall, the changes in this bill for the National Library are largely technical and minimal.
We've made it clear the integration is not about changing the major roles and functions of the National Library or the Turnbull Library.
The statutory roles and functions of the National Librarian and The Chief Librarian are preserved and protected.
This government values the importantance of iconic institutions like the National Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library.
We've demonstrated this with some major investments:
- $52 million into modernising the National Library
- $1.9 million into a new National Library centre in Auckland
- $12.6 million in new Budget funding this year to develop a Government Digital Archive.
To finish, can I congratulate you again on behalf of the government on this remarkable milestone.
The pioneers of your profession would be very proud of your achievements and efforts in ensuring the profession is as relevant today as ever.
I'm told that last year there were 37 million visits to public libraries in New Zealand and 54 million items issued, which are amazing numbers.
I believe the library sector has an exciting future in New Zealand.
As the parent of three young children I know how important it is to inspire a love of reading and information, and I know how important librarians are to inspiring that passion in young people.
I've had a sneak preview of Julia's fascinating book which is being launched tonight.
It very much captures the history and evolution of the library sector in New Zealand. It is a fitting commemoration of your sector's 100 years.
Enjoy tonight's celebrations and all the best for the next 100 years.