Li­brary fu­ture in doubt

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

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.

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