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Qualified librarians 'vital in maintaining a knowledge society'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Library and Information Association of New Zealand (LIANZA) is concerned that proposed changes to Queenstown Lakes District Council library structure and staffing will result in reduced numbers of professional qualified librarians and that the quality of library services available to the Queenstown Lakes community will be severely impacted.

LIANZA President, Heather Lamond, said the end result of de-professionalising library positions or moving the responsibilities elsewhere will be a degradation of services and the required expertise needed to run a complex and specialised branch of the Council.

"Librarianship is a professional career, requiring training and a specialist skillset needed to adapt and meet the needs of a community with innovative, cutting edge technologies and solutions" she said.

While it is a challenging time for all public services and cost-cutting measures are being implemented, it is important to consider the value public libraries bring to the community in the widest sense - both in services and place.

The Kiwis Count survey, carried out by the State Services Commission earlier this year, showed New Zealanders were visiting public libraries more often and rated their service higher than any other public service.

Ms Lamond said "libraries promote literacy and lifelong learning and, in an information-driven world, they are bridging the digital divide, enabling New Zealanders of any socio economic standing to access and participate in the digital environment".

The New Zealand Central Government Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy (December 2012) highlights the role of libraries as 21st century learning environments and the Public Libraries of New Zealand Strategic Framework document emphasises the important role libraries play in connecting people with knowledge and enabling all New Zealanders to participate in the digital environment.

Ms Lamond said "as digitisation increases, the need for equitable access to information and library services will increase, and trained and skilled library staff are crucial if councils are to contribute to developing a knowledge society".

The Association believes it is vital to ensure that professional library tasks are carried out by trained, experienced librarians and strategic input from professional librarians is essential if the library services of Queenstown Lakes district are to continue to develop, remain relevant and provide a first class information environment.

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