The fees generated would help fund two more libraries needed in the city.
Mayor Stuart Crosby, while saddened by the need to charge, said the fees were necessary because not all funding for the new libraries could come from rates.
"At the end of the day, we're looking at substantial rates increases over the next five to ten years and our library services, we believe, aren't sustainable at this point of time because we do want to sustain them, but we want to sustain them on a better platform of funding."
The Mayor admits library patronage is likely to drop if new charges are introduced for the city's library books.
Mr Crosby says that many people believe charging to borrow books goes against everything a public library stands for but says many people paying high rates never use the library.
"In other people's minds, they're paying over $300 in their property taxes and don't use the library. What we're proposing is to shift that balance to a different mix of rate-funded library services and user-pays library services."
The move is not entirely a done deal and public submissions will be called for in March.
What do you think bookies? I know many libraries, including my local Hamilton ones, have small fees for new release items, CDs and DVDs and audio books. So, playing devil’s advocate for a minute here, is charging for “regular” books that much more of a stretch?
Personally I am pretty appalled. I think libraries are an incredibly important resource for the whole community to enjoy.
This move speaks to some of the things I have been learning about in my library studies diploma: “All citizens have access to their public library as of right, regardless of age or
background.” (Informing New Zealand, page 67)
This includes all ethnicities, ages, backgrounds, social status, and even those who have mobility or other issues that prevent them from physically accessing the library building. It’s a big ask but public libraries must cater to all of the needs of the community they serve. Charging for books - even small fees – will disadvantage many who may not otherwise have access to reading and learning materials.
A big fat “shame on you” to the Tauranga City Council. I hope the public speaks up through the submissions process and this terrible idea never happens. I will follow it and keep you posted.