Li­brary clo­sure claims re­jected

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

Auck­land Coun­cil is re­ject­ing claims a re­struc­tur­ing process for li­braries will re­sult in ‘‘rolling clo­sures’’.

Com­mu­nity group Love Our Li­braries, which orig­i­nally tried to stop the re­struc­ture, re­leased a state­ment on Mon­day crit­i­cis­ing Auck­land Coun­cil’s Fit for the Fu­ture pro­gramme. The pro­gramme is de­signed to evolve Auck­land’s li­braries to bet­ter meet the grow­ing de­mand for dig­i­tal and on­line ser­vices.

As part of the pro­gramme Auck­land Li­braries un­der­went a re­struc­ture which re­sulted in vol­un­tary re­dun­dan­cies from 74 staff in March. Many of its re­main­ing 926 staff were re­quired to reap­ply for their jobs.

Love Our Li­braries spokes­woman Ju­lia Schiller said un­der­staffing was im­pact­ing ser­vices and could lead to short­ened li­brary hours.

Schiller said she was aware of 71 shifts need­ing to be filled by work­ers in July.

She said li­brary man­agers had been asked to con­sider what pro­grammes could be cut due to re­duced staff hours.

Auck­land Li­braries gen­eral man­ager Mirla Ed­mund­son said no pro­grammes would be cut, open­ing hours wouldn’t change and ser­vices hadn’t been im­pac- ted.

‘‘There will not be any rolling clo­sures. This is purely spec­u­la­tion on be­half of Love our Li­braries,’’ Ed­mund­son said.

Ed­mund­son said there were some tem­po­rary staffing gaps be­cause some li­braries had staff opt for vol­un­tary re­dun­dancy or take roles in dif­fer­ent li­braries.

Auck­land Li­braries was look­ing to re­cruit about 20 tem­po­rary staff for July and Au­gust to help bridge any gaps.

The Public Ser­vice As­so­ci­a­tion (PSA) - the union rep­re­sent­ing li­brary staff - said it had se­ri­ous con­cerns about the re­struc­ture.

PSA act­ing na­tional sec­re­tary Kerry Davies said it was clear that cost-cut­ting had been one of the cen­tral driv­ers of the re­struc­ture and it was dis­ap­pointed by the lim­ited con­sul- tation process.

Davies said its mem­bers were anx­ious about the po­ten­tial ex­tra work­load and re­duced hours.

‘‘It’s hard to see how this won’t re­sult in a di­min­ished level of ser­vice,’’ Davies said.

‘‘There’s a 90-day re­view pe­riod when the re­forms go live, and we will be tak­ing our mem­bers’ con­cerns to the coun­cil.’’

The Fit for the Fu­ture pro­gramme aims to fu­ture-proof Auck­land’s 55 li­braries.

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