Library future in doubt
Titahi Bay Public Library users and city councillors alike have been shocked to learn it may close in just six months’ time, and that Pukerua Bay library may follow.
Titahi Bay library’s future came into doubt last month when the council realised its Whitehouse Rd lease was up for renewal in December, libraries manager Brian Anderson says. It was too late to recommend the library’s closure in the draft Long Term Plan but the plan cuts the city’s libraries’ budget by 6 per cent and money could be saved by not renewing the lease, he says.
Titahi Bay library is open 12-and-a-half hours per week and is staffed part-time by librarians from the Porirua library. Its hours will be cut by 50 per cent this year in any case, Mr Anderson says.
Plimmerton library is already facing closure and all library branches’ hours, staff and programmes will be cut if councillors accept the Draft Long Term Plan recommendations next Tuesday.
Mayor Nick Leggett says the news of Titahi Bay library’s potential closure came as a real shock. The branch is the only library in the western ward, and retaining one branch per ward is vital, he says.
Pukerua Bay library may also close as a result of budget cuts, he says, but its loss will cut less deeply, as it serves a community of just 1500 and is not the only branch in the northern ward.
Western ward councillor ’Ana Coffey says she has fielded plenty of calls from upset Titahi Bay library users.
She is determined to fight any closure and will demand council officers find an alternative budget cut before the Long Term Plan is adopted next Tuesday, she says.
Titahi Bay woman Melanie Fisher says libraries are a core service and the council should be increasing their funding, not cutting hours.
‘‘It’s a university of the people. People who can’t afford to go to university use the library. I’ve got a degree and a postgraduate degree and I still go to the library,’’ she says. ‘‘We need a lot more people to be outraged.’’ Mrs Fisher says she visits the library three times a week, often with her young children, and says the council’s assurance that a mobile library will do the same job is unrealistic.
School groups, retired people and families use the library to socialise, read the paper and hang out in a warm, safe space, she says.
If the library is under-used, it’s because it is only open during the daytime when most people are at work, Mrs Fisher says.