Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tauranga Library set to introduce fees for ALL lending

In a move sure to outrage, Tauranga libraries may soon be charging for loaning of books.

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.


Su Yin said...

What a flawed argument. I don't use the motorway—bicycles aren't allowed—and yet still pay for it through taxes ... how about we start putting up toll booths for those instead?

Non-library users should start using it more often! They have no idea what a wonderful community service this is.

Sheldon (Marketing Consultant, Tauranga, NZ) said...

Ridiculous. It'll never work. But it would be easy to extend the cateogories of items that they have in the "hot titles" range which they do already charge for.

Mathew Sanders said...

Ironically they won't need another two libraries if they start charging because less people will go!

(Is that irony or not? I'm always confused...)

Sheldon (Marketing Consultant, Tauranga, NZ) said...

haha! You are so right Mathew!

Katie said...

I'm not impressed at all. The whole point of libraries is to make learning and reading accessible to everyone. How can this be so when they are charging? Why not try and make money other ways by hosting events or something like that? The library in my city is the best library I've ever been to in the world and I would be so upset if they were to start charging for everything. I often request items and pay for that and I pay for DVDs and new releases occassionally. But I also make very good use of all the free things my library offers. What would I do the day before payday if the library charged?!

Brumby said...

Disgraceful, and no doubt would set a nationwide precedent.

The joy of the library is that you can be entertained, or educated for free.

The books/resources that the library provides are to me invaluable, I have been able to research and learn a number of skills that I simply cannot afford to pay to learn, or that courses are not available on (which will be even fewer now that government funding has been cut for these too).

It is about time councils started doing what the rest of us have to do when we run short of money and/or need to expand: look at ways as a business we can provide a more encompassing experience; open a cafe in the libraries, start book clubs and charge an admission, host topic nights with guest speakers and charge an admission, seek sponsorship.

A free library is a right, and it is also a jolly good step towards better communities, is it the children that frequent a library or those that 'frequent' a mall that are more likely to be our leaders of tomorrow?

Café Chick said...

How very sad, if not incredibly short sighted. Learning and reading benefits everyone. I just finished reading Dorothy Butler's autobiography, There Was A Time, and she talked about how in 1940s Auckland she wasn't allowed to use the library as her parents weren't ratepayers. It looks like Tauranga are heading back six decades.

Krissi said...

Wha? Reading is important - it should be free to hire out books.

Kelly said...

Thanks for your comments everyone and the lively opinions you offered - your thoughts are always appreciated here at wellreadkitty :-)

I am pleased to see we are all in agreement this potential move by the Tauranga City Council is an outrage. Fingers and toes crossed they see sense and scrap this ridiculous idea. And quickly.

Anonymous said...

Set up a campaign; Facebook is useful

Vanessa said...

there will be a Public Meeting organised by Vanessa B and the Raging Readers against this ridiculous proposal. SPREAD THE WORD READERS! on Thursday 1 April 12.30-1.30pm at the Elizabeth St Community Centre -
169 Elizabeth St (opposite the Tga yoga Centre in town by the NZ Flag Roundabout). Mayor Stuart Crosby has been invited and should, we hope, be there. this will be a chance to be heard and galvanise support around the issue.

please come, please spread the word, and please fill out a submission form against the proposal from this Monday 22 March. submission forms available at: http://www.tauranga.govt.nz/submission.aspx from monday morning