Three wicked problems and one set of strategic directions

One of the benefits of attending a LIANZA Conference is the opportunity, as the cliché says, to broaden your horizons. True to its name, OPEN 2017 did this in spades for me, with a variety of practical workshops and big idea keynotes.

A session that particularly reminded me of the wider importance of our profession was the talk by National Librarian Bill Macnaught. Bill highlighted the National Library’s Strategic Directions to 2030, a document that first saw the light at the end of 2016, but which I had shamefully not been aware of (bad librarian!).

Turning knowledge into value - Strategic directions to 2030
Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa – National Library of New Zealand, Attribution 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY 3.0 NZ)

Yet the three themes (aka in Bill’s words the “wicked problems”) of the Strategic Directions  — Taonga, Knowledge, and Reading — are crucial to the future not just of the National Library but of our country as a whole. You can read more about them on the National Library’s website, but here is my summary for those who like me tend to fall into the tl;dr category.

Issues

Taonga

  • Are we collecting the right things that we want to share for posterity? Are we doing so collectively across the country?
  • Are we looking after these taonga in a fit manner? How do we mitigate the risks to these treasures? (A very pertinent question, given that the very night before Bill spoke there had been a fire at the National Library: the very building that houses our important documents of Nationhood)
  • How do we ensure that the resources that are being preserved digitally will be easily accessible to New Zealanders in a hundred years’ time?

Knowledge

  • How do we make it much easier to share knowledge across New Zealand? How do we overcome the legacy of thinking of our own institutions first?

Reading

  • How do we create a nation of readers? According to the Tertiary Education Commission, almost half the adult population struggles with the written word. Functional literacy is not as good as it needs to be to ensure a prosperous and healthy Aotearoa.
Book "whare" in children's area
Book “whare” in children’s area, Christchurch City Libraries. Flickr 2016-01-20-IMG-1205

Focus areas

The Strategic Directions highlight the following areas as key goals:

  • New Zealand’s collections of documentary heritage and taonga will be well-managed and consistently cared for, regardless of format, and readily available.
  • All collecting organisations will have access to expertise to use new technologies and tools, so that digital preservation will be integrated into their collecting policies.
  • New Zealand institutions will act as one knowledge network, with seamless access points.
  • New Zealanders will be engaged with these resources and inspired to create new knowledge, especially resources in te reo Māori.
  • Collections will reflect the diversity of people in New Zealand and the Pacific, and the importance of Māori as tangata whenua.
  • A national campaign of reading for pleasure will improve New Zealanders’ functional literacy levels.
  • New Zealanders will have the digital literacy skills to access and use knowledge.
  • Te reo Māori will be revitalised and used throughout Aotearoa.

Key success factors

Bill identified these key success factors:

  • Collective impact approach and mutually reinforcing activities (e.g. through enabling and demonstration projects that we can all focus on).
  • Acknowledgement that we have common agenda.
  • Shared measurement – we need to be clear about what success look like for all parties.
  • Backbone support from the National Library.
  • And that usual supect: continuous communication.

Do you agree with the themes, issues and focus areas of the National Library’s Strategic Directions to 2030? Or perhaps you have a brilliant idea to help us achieve these?

If so, please spread the word (remember the importance of continuous communication…) and/or email NatlibFuture@dia.govt.nz

P.S. Want to read more about OPEN 2017? Check out Kat’s A LIANZA #open17 Bibliography.

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