Public Libraries of New Zealand
Our practice furthers the democratic aims of the Public Libraries of New Zealand.
Shared reading groups allow people who may not otherwise be able to access literature to enjoy its benefits, a principle that is emphasised in the Strategic Framework of the Public Libraries of New Zealand. All literature is read aloud within the group allowing access to those who may be vision impaired, on medication or have low levels of literacy. Shared reading groups further New Zealand libraries’ strong traditions and aims for the future, one of which is equity of access to information.
Arising from public libraries’ roots in education for workers, there is a strong emphasis on equity of access to information, the right to know, freedom of expression, the right to participate fully in a democratic society, objectivity and professionalism. (NLNZ 2005)
The NLNZ aims for public libraries to function as places for creating new knowledge, targeted community outreach, people engagement and a platform for innovating. Shared reading may not produce empirical or theoretical knowledge but it does contribute to a liberation of the mind by promoting the “reweaving of knowledge”, the interaction of the skills and understanding of the group with a text. The concept of reweaving knowledge may be undertaken in the shared reading group by contributing one’s feelings, reactions or memories in relation to the text discussed to build on a collective understanding of the text. Participants are thus contributing to the knowledge contained within the library walls, another value listed in the National Library’s Strategic Framework.
The National Library of New Zealand envision that, “library buildings are transforming to be not only where residents come to get ideas and information but also to be an experiential place where they can connect with others to create and share knowledge, and learn about new ideas in a social context.”(NLNZ 2005) The therapeutic use of library resources within a shared reading group brings this aspiration to life.
Our shared reading practice enacts the purpose of Auckland Libraries.
The following excerpts are taken from Te Kauroa- Future Directions documenting the aspirations of Auckland Libraries. The Reading Revolution directly furthers these aims by providing innovative shared reading groups which foster creativity, collaborative lifelong learning, community involvement, wellbeing, and reader support. Working in strategic partnership with The Reading Revolution therefore provides Auckland Libraries with a great opportunity to tick a few things off their list, particularly from “Focus Area 4- Customer and Community Connection.”
“Our purpose is to connect the diverse communities and people of Auckland with the world of information, knowledge and ideas, providing opportunities to grow through inspiration, innovation and creativity. Auckland Libraries plays a significant role in place-making, community building, lifelong learning and contributing to the cultural and economic life of the city. Our aspiration is for Auckland Libraries: your place of imagination, learning and connection. Important principles lie at the heart of why we have libraries: they are open to all, safeguarding access to information and freedom of expression; they are trusted places (physical and digital) where knowledge is shared, built on sustainable and collaborative models, delivering value.” (Te Kauroa. p13)
Focus area 4- Customer and Community Connection (Te Kauroa. p30)
Programmes and services that inspire learning and participation
- 4.1 activate library spaces with innovative programmes and events
- 4.2 position libraries as citizen spaces for sharing knowledge and ideas, and for thinking and debate
- 4.3 support readers and promote reader development
- 4.4 connect with new customers through targeted community outreach
“Over the next 10 years Auckland Libraries will continue to offer a rich variety of programmes to inspire the people and communities of Auckland, providing opportunities for discovery and engaging with new ideas. Customers will be involved in recommending and designing programmes. Groups will have greater opportunities to use library spaces to run their own programmes. Customer involvement helps us to acknowledge the public’s enthusiasm for libraries and customer loyalty. Aucklanders who take part in library programmes will have a sense of belonging to their community.”
“The fundamental assumption of the Auckland Plan is that its vision can only be achieved if there is “a deep commitment to collaboration and co-operation”. 16 Auckland Libraries believes that its Te Kauroa – Future Directions will also require a strong commitment to working in strategic partnership with others who have similar goals.” (Te Kauroa p42)