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National Library, linking information and people

National Librarian and Chief Executive, Christopher Blake, today outlined the library’s new staffing structure. He made the announcement to staff immediately after the launch of the library’s successful web-based information access vehicle – Te Puna.

“Te Puna is an important corner-stone of our future. It will play a vital role in opening up access to information to all New Zealanders,” he said. “It’s one of our most important responses to the technological advances libraries the world over are embracing. Our new structure is the ‘people’ response to those advances. It’s a vital part of our commitment to give right of entry to information and our heritage to all New Zealanders.”

“The National Library is here to give more people more access to more information. That means having the right match of technology and staff. We’ve already gone a long way to get the technology in place, now we’re getting the all important ‘people’ element right.”

At the end of the process the library will employ 350 FTEs, 15 less than now. Up to 84 positions will be disestablished and up to 37 new positions created. This will bring in new staff with specific skills. This means that around 30 to 35 full and part-time jobs will go from the National Library over the next few months, fewer than originally projected.

“We listened hard to staff and those with a keen interest in the Library. We’ve consulted extensively and taken a wide range of their views on board. Now, we need to move up a gear - manage the change process, provide care and support for staff and begin a new era,” said Christopher Blake.

The first proposed structure was published in December 1998. Staff have had to live and work with uncertainty since then. But they’ve carried on providing excellent service to the library and its users.

“It’s been taxing and draining for many,” said Christopher Blake. “I’d like to publicly acknowledge their dedication and thank them for their hard work throughout this year.”

The National Library is one of the jewels in the country’s heritage crown, and its heritage role is at the forefront of its future. The Alexander Turnbull Library holds much of the country’s documentary heritage. Opening up the collections to more New Zealanders is firmly on the National Library’s agenda. This approach was outlined by the Library last year, when it published its strategic plan, Towards the 21st Century.

“We’ve got three important roles within New Zealand – preserving our heritage and meeting the information needs of a knowledge-based society and economy, and providing schools with advice and resources,” said Christopher Blake. “We’re strengthening all three.”

He acknowledges the concerns a small number of people have about the library’s future.

“I appreciate there are some who know the library well and care for its important work. I hope they will join with me in welcoming far wider access to, and use of, the services we offer. I’m confident our new structure will achieve that.”

Implementing the new structure begins straight away. It is scheduled to be fully introduced by early 2000.

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