Spread­ing the word

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

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

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