Spreading the word
The proposal to close Plimmerton library as a costcutting measure in Porirua City Council’s draft long-term plan now appears to be the tip of an extensive downsize of the city’s community libraries.
As we reported this week, both Titahi Bay and Pukerua Bay libraries also face uncertain futures, the former touted to close in six months’ time. Even if it doesn’t, it would have its open hours halved to a seemingly pointless six hours a week.
If they all go, it would leave Porirua with its main library and two branches in Cannons Creek and Whitby – so one in the east and one in the north (though Plimmerton and Pukerua Bay folk would likely consider the main city library more local and accessible than Whitby’s).
Western ward residents would have to bus it into the central city, a prospect that isn’t sitting well with mayor Nick Leggett or councillor ’Ana Coffey. The impact of taking the library out of the already depressed Titahi Bay shopping centre would be very disheartening.
The draft long-term plan would cut down hours, staff and programmes at all the city’s libraries.
If you’re like me, libraries are like sports fields, swimming pools and Pataka: council services that are functional, meaningful and not dead boring (drains, road surfaces, etc). Knowing some of our rates go to these things make it a little easier each time a payment looms.
Their value is tangible – unless next to nobody is using them.
What troubles me is the Titahi Bay closure is apparently being triggered by an expiring lease.
Did council officers perceive a lack of rage against the Plimmerton closure in Long Term Plan submissions and take it as an invitation to wield the scythe again?
If libraries are to be closed or consolidated, such decisions should follow a wider review of the city’s library services; one that engages the community and considers possible changes in regional governance – would a ‘‘ super-city’’ come with a ‘‘ superlibrary?’’ – village planning and new technology.
I agree with Titahi Bay woman Melanie Fisher when she says libraries aren’t just about borrowing books. They are a social space – a community hub and haven – and are among the few where you don’t need to take your wallet or purse.
A mobile library is not a public library, it’s just a van full of books.
Matthew Dallas, editor