New Zealand Libraries Partnership Programme

Find out about the COVID-19 recovery work being led by the National Library to support librarians and library services across New Zealand. 

The Government is entrusting the National Library to lead and support COVID-19 recovery work across New Zealand’s library system, especially in public libraries, with a funding package of $58.8 million, over two to four years.

The New Zealand Libraries Partnership Programme (NZLPP) will support librarians and library services to be retained in NZ libraries and assist them to support community recovery.

Have a look at the New Zealand Libraries Partnership Programme in action

Funding over four years

The New Zealand Libraries Partnership Programme will support librarians and library services to be retained. This in turn will enable librarians and library services to play a key role in supporting their communities and people seeking jobs as part of the recovery from COVID-19.

Libraries are vital community hubs, where people can get practical help during tough economic times. Librarians support lifelong learning and can assist those looking for work. Local libraries are safe spaces to access essential online services and to be supported in performing basic digital tasks, such as CV writing and accessing career services.

The $58.8m of funding over four years will be used as follows.

  • $30 million over two years to fund and upskill librarians in public libraries so they can provide greater support for library users and help bolster reading and digital literacy.
  • $4 million over two years to support the National Library’s Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa (APNK) public internet service, and to extend it to non-APNK public libraries. APNK provides free access to the internet and devices for any member of the public.
  • $11.5m over two years to help maintain library services by waiving National Library subscription charges to libraries.
  • $13.3m over four years for specialist library services to help schools and young people with the greatest need during the recovery.

Funding is also provided to increase the Public Lending Right in recognition of New Zealand authors’ books being available for use in libraries.

Supporting librarians’ jobs and library services

We are working with key stakeholders in the library and local government sectors, including LIANZA, Te Rōpū Whakahau, Public Libraries of New Zealand, Taituarā — Local Government Professionals Aotearoa and Library and Information Advisory Commission (LIAC).

When the programme was established local council Chief Executives were provided with an outline of the programme, including fee waivers and secondment funding while underlining the key priorities of support for library jobs and for job seekers and the aim to support the provision of free public internet through all public libraries in New Zealand.

Local councils who took up the offer to be part of the partnership entered into a formal ‘Letter of Agreement’ with the National Library. The agreement outlines the shared responsibilities, expectations and provides a basis for authorising payments and establishing reporting requirements.

To date agreements with local councils represent a commitment to fund and upskill 184 existing and new library staff through to June 2022. At July 2021 the programme has 174 confirmed people in fixed-term library roles and they are already making an impact in their community.

The programme’s funding covers salary, superannuation, ACC and agreed operating costs. In addition, a funded programme of training and coaching for the seconded library staff will be made available over the two-year period.

The secondments can be appointed at any time during the next two financial years for up to 21 months or maybe appointed for shorter periods of time depending on local authority need. We expect that secondment funding will be released in tranches, as libraries are ready to take in staff, and will be spread across the funding period.

The 21 months is on the basis that the position started by 1 October 2020, so a later starting date would need to be for a shorter period.

Focus areas

Six focus area options for library staff supported by the programme were identified through early stakeholder engagement. When signing up to the programme each library selects one or more focus areas for their community. The programme is now developing the level of support and training needed for each focus area to make the greatest possible difference for the community in:

  1. Digital inclusion, supporting and assisting job seekers and learners – including digital literacy for children and young people.
  2. Library workforce development, supporting an increasingly diverse workforce – including retention and development of Māori and Pasifika staff, leadership development, trainee revruitment and career progression development.
  3. Community engagement, supporting community recovery – incuding capability building, co-design skills, programming and outreach and by targeting non-users.
  4. Reading for pleasure, supporting wellbeing — including local programme, partnerships and support for young people, whānau and communities.
  5. Te reo and mātauranga Māori, supporting local iwi – including skills development
  6. Content creation and curation of online NZ resources, with a focus on local resources.

Strategic partnership grants

In May 2020, the New Zealand Libraries Partnership Programme (NZLPP) funding package was announced to retain and support librarians and library services so they can further help community recovery from COVID-19. Since its inception the programme has committed to fund and support over 180 fixed term roles in libraries and ensure free and easy access to the internet and library digital services.

As part of the funding, the National Library has invited nine organisations to submit proposals for non-contestable grants that will benefit New Zealand’s wider library sector. These organisations are:Library and Information Association New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA); Te Rōpū Whakahau; Public Libraries of New Zealand (PLNZ); School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (SLANZA); Council of New Zealand University Librarians (CONZUL); Auckland Libraries, Te Puna Foundation, Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ); and Taituarā.

The proposals for the non-contestable grants are an opportunity to build on the work already delivered by the NZLPP and broaden it to support to the wider library sector in a strategic way that contributes to its sustainability.

Proposals needed to demonstrate alignment to the NZLPP objectives and be consistent with the programme’s priorities. The sector organisations were encouraged to partner with others, including those outside the library sector, for effective delivery of proposals where it makes sense to do so.

Strategic partnership grants process

The proposals were reviewed by members of the Library and Information Advisory Commission (LIAC). LIAC are established under the National Library’s legislation to provide advice to the Minister of Internal Affairs on library and information issues, including mātauranga Māori.

LIAC have agreed to monitor and oversee the programme direction and benefits realisation and provide advice directly to the National Librarian and Minister as required. LIAC are therefore well placed to provide recommendations to the NZLPP on the partnership grants.

Successful Strategic Partnership Grants

There are eleven Strategic Partnership Grants being awarded, totalling $5.024. Sector organisations were encouraged to partner with others and seven of the successful projects are collaborations. Grant proposals were assessed with assistance from the Library and Information Advisory Commission (LIAC) and decisions were informed by their recommendations.

Project partners include: Te Takarangi, New Zealand Book Awards Trust, Tohatoha, National Library’s Services to Schools and the University of Canterbury.

The project details for the strategic grants are as follows:

  • Mātauranga Māori Professional Development project, delivered by Te Rōpū Whakahau, funded $200,000.
  • Te Takarangi ki te Ao – expanding knowledge and appreciation for Māori scholarship, mātauranga and academic excellence, delivered by Te Rōpū Whakahau, funded $500,000.
  • New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults – Books Alive events – delivered by LIANZA, funded $76,000.
  • Communities of Learning/ Kahui Ako and School Libraries Collaboration Pilot Programme, delivered by SLANZA, funded $48,000.
  • School Librarians Collaboration with Many Answers Pilot Programme, delivered by SLANZA, funded $200,000.
  • A Bit Sus – a misinformation education involving school libraries, delivered by SLANZA, funded $150,000.
  • Employing a full time “Libraries Adviser” for 2 years, delivered by LGNZ, funded $450,000.
  • Public Libraries Co‐Cre8 – a coordinated approach to national data collection, delivered by PLNZ and Taituarā, funded $550,000.
  • Strengthening the Library and Information Workforce: Tertiary Grants, delivered by LIANZA and SLANZA, funded $1,500,000.
  • Communities of Readers (CoR) Phase 2: Strengthening reading engagement through library and community partnerships, delivered by Te Puna Foundation, funded $850,000.
  • He Kupenga Horopounamu – a programme of work to change Libraries’ practice and service design to achieve better outcomes for Māori Communities, delivered by Auckland LibrariesCONZUL and University of Canterbury, funded $500,000.


The programme will be supported by a steering group, reference group and training advisory group.

Steering group

A steering group is in place to champion the programme, provide direction and guide how libraries can leverage existing resources and build new ones to share ideas and skills.

The steering group members are:

  • Karen Thomas — Taituarā — Local Government Professionals Aotearoa
  • Anahera Morehu — LIANZA
  • Anahera Sadler — Te Rōpū Whakahau
  • Chris Hay — Public Libraries of NZ
  • Mike Reid — Local Government NZ
  • Vanisa Dhiru — InternetNZ
  • Rachel Esson (Chair) — National Library

Reference group and training advisory group

A reference group and training advisory group have been established to collaborate on the programme’s development and roll out of the training, coaching and communities of practice.

This will help support participants deliver their objectives for the programme’s focus areas of: digital inclusion, reading for pleasure, community engagement, workforce development, Te Reo and mātauranga Maori, and content creation.

The groups comprise Library Managers from across the country and sector experts from LIANZA, Services to Schools, Alexander Turnbull Library and the National Library.

Free public internet

COVID-19 has helped underline the importance of the public being able to access the internet for information and services without cost being a barrier. The free internet provision is aimed at members of the public being able to access the internet for free through their local library wherever they are in New Zealand and regardless of whether they own a device.

The programme aims to achieve this through:

  • waiving of subscription fees for Councils that use the Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa (APNK) service
  • working with Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch libraries to support their existing free internet offers
  • providing all remaining Councils with the opportunity to join the APNK service at no charge and support for free public internet and device provision in those libraries — for a period of two years.

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