Speech to the opening of the National Library's new Auckland centre

  • Nathan Guy
National Library

Thanks Penny and Ngati Whatua for that warm welcome.

It's a great honour and pleasure to be here tonight, and the Prime Minister sends his best wishes.  

This new centre is a proud moment for the National Library. It is a key milestone in the New Generation Strategy, aimed at modernising services.

In particular, moving to this new location in Parnell provides a real opportunity to improve the ways we support literacy and learning in Auckland, and New Zealand.

As you might be aware, the National Library supports around 720,000 students in over two and a half thousand schools across the country.

The ‘Services to Schools' team provides curriculum resources and advice on school library development.

When developing this centre, they have thought long and hard on the kind of support our students will need into the 21st century.

It's clear that the world of learning is a very different experience for children today than it was even a few decades ago.

Libraries have a key role to play in supporting this changing learning and information landscape.

This is exactly what the new centre does, providing a vibrant, open and collaborative space, creating new possibilities to support learning and to provide a window to New Zealand's past, present and future.

A couple of new features really stand out.

The brand new Learning Studio provides a space, facilities and technologies where library staff will work alongside teachers, to develop 21st century literacy skills, enhancing teaching programmes and developing new classroom resources.

It also has "The Window", which gives a glimpse into some of the National Library's collections.

The first exhibition on display through "The Window" is a selection of digital images from the Alexander Turnbull Library, showing Auckland scenes from 1860 onwards.

The Window open to anyone, including the general public, during opening hours.

Overall, this is a building with a modern, inviting feel. It makes the most of technology to engage the public, educators and kids, and is a great asset for Auckland.

This centre has cost $1.9 million, and is part of a $52 million project to modernise the National Library.

In this year's Budget I was also very proud to announce $12.6 million in new funding for a Government Digital Archive, to be jointly developed by the National Library and Archives New Zealand.

This will help preserve and store digital information for future generations to enjoy, and confirms the government's commitment to the sector overall.

Importance of literacy

This new centre is important to the government because improving the literacy of young New Zealanders is a key goal for us.

We believe that too many young people have been falling through the cracks of the education system. This has an enormous social and economic cost.

This is why we are rolling out National Standards and other efforts to boost literacy.

And we are investing $1.5 billion to roll out high-speed broadband across the country. 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.

This new centre will play a key role in achieving these goals for New Zealand.


Finally, can I say a few words about the integration of the National Library with Archives New Zealand and the Department of Internal Affairs.

As the Minister responsible 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.

This move will allow expertise and resources to be combined, while at the same time sharing back office costs.

The integration is not about changing the major roles and functions of the National Library or the Turnbull Library.

We expect this will generate millions of dollars a year in savings, redirecting into better frontline services for the public.

I believe the National Library has an exciting future. It has embraced change and new technology, and this new centre is a perfect example of that.

It reflects the determination of the National Library to modernise its services so that they continue to be relevant to our schools and children.

It also means that the people of Auckland can more strongly connect with the taonga and treasures held by the National Library.

Can I finish by thanking the staff of the National Library who have worked so hard to bring this project into reality.

I think they have succeeded in creating a vibrant and engaging space that will support our educators while fostering the joy of reading in young people.

Well done and congratulations on this achievement.

Tena koutou Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa, tena hoki koutou Ngati Whatua.

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Thank you.