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National Library Applauds New Digital Strategy

National Library Applauds New Digital Strategy

The goverment's new Digital Strategy is a giant step forward for New Zealand, and will be widely celebrated by the nation's library and information community, says National Librarian Penny Carnaby.

"This is a day of pride and celebration for all New Zealanders. The Digital Strategy is about creating our digital future - a future that will see us harnessing the power of information and communications technology to improve our lives."

For the past two years the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna M*tauranga o Aotearoa has been working closely with the Ministry of Economic Development, other central government departments and Local Government New Zealand, and consulting with the library and information sector, to develop this essential contribution to the nation's digital well-being.

"The government's Project PROBE and Advanced Research Network are about creating the bandwidth pipes, ensuring as many New Zealanders as possible can connect to the web. The library and information community is focussed on filling these pipes - connecting New Zealanders with high-quality content that is important to all aspects of their lives," says Ms Carnaby, who is also Chief Executive of the National Library.

"We have already led some groundbreaking, innovative content initiatives over the past two years. EPIC, which gave New Zealanders access to over 16,000 full text e-journals and an enormous range of high-quality electronic resources through their local libraries, was a huge success and has been held up internationally as an example of how New Zealanders can work together for the common good. Matapihi, which gives people one-stop access to the digital collections of five New Zealand heritage institutions, and, a greatly successful online homework helper that connects students with real-life, real-time librarians, are also key components of the strategy."

The National Library will now begin to facilitate a pan-government, pan-sector national content strategy, which will map content resources around New Zealand and propose a framework to pull together digital access to all these resources for all citizens.

Ms Carnaby says that another integral part of the Digital Strategy is the National Library-led National Digital Heritage Archive, which will ward off the 'digital dark ages', and protect New Zealand's heritage for future generations. "With this programme we are ensuring that next generation New Zealanders can access their digital heritage - such as websites and born digital publications - just as they can currently access objects like books, paintings, photos and diaries. So much of our thoughts, writing and publishing as a nation is now only ever saved electronically, and it would be a real tragedy for this country if it was lost to future generations, for the want of a place to safely store it."

The National Library is also working on a major national project to build the capacity of public libraries, in consultation with local government. "This project will, we hope, leverage off New Zealand's excellent public library sector by providing a people's network for all those who don't currently have access to the web," says Ms Carnaby.

"The Digital Strategy is a huge step towards New Zealand becoming a leading information democracy, where we will see a child in Invercargill having equal access to quality information as a researcher in one of New Zealand's larger metropolitan areas, or one of our large multi-national businesses."

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