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National Library to host renowned speaker

National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa

MEDIA RELEASE APRIL 16 2008

Building Bridges to Knowledge National Library to host renowned speaker

The National Library of New Zealand is to host an internationally recognised digital futures strategist as part of his Australasian speaking tour.

Chris Batt, OBE, is a former chief executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council UK and a former adviser to the European Commission. He has more than 20 years' experience in cultural heritage and learning policy development and, with a keen interest in the development of information technology for public use, now works as a library and ICT strategist.

The National Library is bringing Mr Batt to New Zealand from Australia, where he spoke at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library, Information and Resource Network (ATSILIRN) conference in Darwin and worked with the state libraries of New South Wales and Queensland.

The primary purpose of his New Zealand visit is for an exchange of views and ideas and during his time in Wellington, he will meet staff of the National Library to discuss content and information democracy issues.

Mr Batt led the implementation of the 170m People's Network programme in the United Kingdom, the largest single investment ever made by government in the public library service. His task was to connect all 4300 public libraries to the information
superhighway by the end of 2002, giving universal public access to the rich information and learning resources that are now being created in cyberspace.

The New Zealand initiative - the Aotearoa People's Network - was launched in November 2007. It is a collaboration between the National Library, public libraries, business and the community, and part of the wider Government Digital Content Strategy to unlock the nation's stock of content and build opportunities for the public to access it.

Providing free access to broadband Internet services in public libraries, the Aotearoa People's Network will complete its first phase by the end of this month, with 147 computers placed in 34 libraries across 13 regions. Planning for phase two is under way with a further 36 libraries due to go online.

Mr Batt will be guest speaker for the National Library Society at a function at 5.30pm on Monday April 21 at the National Library. He will also call on the leadership team of Te Papa and visit Puke Ariki, New Plymouth's museum and library.

He is available for media interviews at very limited times: Monday 21 April from
4.00pm till 4.45pm or Tuesday 22 April from 11am till 12 noon.

ends

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