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Feedback sought regarding expanded library service

Feedback sought on plans for expanded library services

April 6, 2004

North Shore City residents have the chance to tell their council whether to build a large city library in Albany, or several smaller community libraries to cater for the growing population in the northern suburbs.

The council has put the proposal before its 205,000 residents and business community in its draft 2004 - 2014 City Plan, which was released earlier this month.

Under the Local Government Act 2002 all councils are required to produce a long-term council community plan setting out budgets and work plans for 10 years. The chairperson of North Shore City's community services and parks committee, Margaret Miles, says the rapidly growing population in the northern area of the city has created a significant demand for increased library services.

"With so many new residents moving into that part of the city, particularly families with young children, we need to plan for the future. It is appropriate to also do some forward planning regarding our library services around the city as a whole and look for ways to improve and extend our library services," Councillor Miles says.

North Shore City Council currently has six city libraries around the city, which are open seven days a week. Only one of those libraries - East Coast Bays - is in the northern part of the city.

Margaret Miles says a new 500 sq m community library is set to open in the Albany Village in May as an interim measure, but would be inadequate for the area it serves in a few years, and is in leased premises.

One of the three options being put to the public by the council is to build a new city library in Albany.

"A large city library would allow us to not only serve the local community but improve city wide library services," Councillor Miles says. "The single large library would have room for better reference services, and would allow us to develop a specialist area for our growing heritage collection and allow for exhibition space. Furthermore it would be built on land we already own and would give a substantial civic presence and community focus to Albany Centre."

The capital cost of this option is estimated to be $17m with an annual operating cost of about $7m.

"However we expect a large portion of the capital cost would be covered by development contributions rather than a direct cost to rate payers," Councillor Miles says.

A second option is to develop up to four more small community libraries in the northern suburbs. These libraries would be of a similar size to, and would replicate the services to be offered by the Albany Village library.

"While the exact costs have not been fully explored, we expect these new libraries would cost between $15m and $20m with an annual operating cost of $6m. We would also need to buy land for them."

A third option that residents are being asked to consider is to continue with the status quo - being a community library in Albany Village and no further library development in the northern part of the city.

Residents are also being asked to consider whether North Shore City Council should set aside $830,000 to extend Devonport Library in Windsor Reserve to include the space previously occupied by the visitor information centre.

If this were done it would lead to a 0.1 per cent increase in rates.

Councillor Miles is urging all sectors of the community to let the council know what they think.

"We want to improve and extend our existing library services so we can cater for our growing city, but must balance this against the cost of these projects."

A newsletter has been sent to every household and business in the city summarising the draft 2004-2014 City Plan, and setting out the various proposals on which the council is seeking feedback. A reply-paid submission has been included to make it easier for people to respond.

Residents are also invited to meetings, which will be held at four venues around North Shore City to explain the draft plan.

People are invited to visit the website, www.northshorecity.govt.nz or call Actionline on 486 8600 for a list of council offices and libraries where they can view the full draft plan.

ENDS


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