Do li­braries still mat­ter?

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JAMES PASLEY

The peo­ple have spo­ken, and li­braries still mat­ter.

As Auck­land Coun­cil looks to fu­ture-proof its 55 li­braries to keep up with chang­ing ser­vice de­mands, Stuff de­cided to see if peo­ple still cared about their lo­cal book provider.

On so­cial me­dia site Neigh­bourly.co.nz the con­sen­sus was that li­braries re­main a vi­tal part of the com­mu­nity, not sim­ply for book lend­ing, but as a so­cial hub and an ed­u­ca­tional re­source.

Mount Roskill res­i­dent Suzanne Paul said li­braries were about more than just books, and she com­mended the li­brar­i­ans.

‘‘The staff, they are so patient, and help­ful, al­ways pleas­ant, even when deal­ing with a dif­fi­cult is­sue. Age and in­fir­mity make no dif­fer­ence, all are treated the same,’’ Paul said.

Hills­bor­ough res­i­dent Julie Mur­phy said her fam­ily had used li­braries a huge amount over the years.

‘‘Apart from its ob­vi­ous func­tion, our lo­cal li­brary also serves as a free, safe place to hang out for folk on the fringes of so­ci­ety,’’ she said.

‘‘Talk­ing with the home­less in our com­mu­nity, I re­alise it is where they keep con­nected to fam­ily over the in­ter­net, meet up, or just have a warm, com­fort­able place to sit after a cold night on the street.’’

One Tree Hill res­i­dent Marie Martin said the in­tro­duc­tion of the dig­i­tal ser­vices had in­creased her fam­ily’s use of the li­braries.

‘‘We see the li­brary as an es­sen­tial com­mu­nity ser­vice and part of the coun­cil’s core busi­ness,’’ Martin said.

Mount Al­bert res­i­dent Emma Robert­son said li­braries pro­vided a safe haven for kids, were a friendly place for the growing ag­ing pop­u­la­tion and were mo­ti­vated by com­mu­nity need.

‘‘Un­for­tu­nately their im­pact is not al­ways tan­gi­ble and easy to quan­tify, but I value the ser­vice they pro­vide my com­mu­nity.’’

In April, Auck­land Li­braries out­lined its changes stat­ing 80 per cent of 926 staff would need to reap­ply for their jobs, and that it would have a dig­i­tal fo­cus mov­ing for­ward.

In re­sponse to con­cerns about the changes, Mayor Phil Goff penned an in­ter­nal let­ter to the coun­cil where he said new tech­nol­ogy and bet­ter or­gan­i­sa­tion had al­lowed staff re­duc­tions.

He said tech­nol­ogy had con­tri- buted to the changes with the growth of elec­tronic check­outs caus­ing man­ual check­outs to fall by about 1.8 mil­lion since 2012.

SUP­PLIED

The con­sen­sus was that li­braries re­main a vi­tal part of the com­mu­nity.

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