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Do libraries have a future?

Media release 27 August 2013

Do libraries have a future?

Wellingtonians are invited to attend a debate about public libraries on the controversial topic: ‘Are Libraries worth saving?’

The debate has been organised by Wellington Library Coalition, a group formed this year with the aim of stopping further cuts to the Wellington City Libraries.

‘We want to take the issues that concern us out to the public and to library users’ said Chris Coles of Wellington Library Coalition. ‘Most residents of Wellington have a library card and the libraries are highly regarded, according to Wellington City Council reports. Yet, year after year, the libraries’ budget has been reduced. Over the last five years, funding has not even kept up with inflation’.

‘As a result, library staff are under increasing pressure; services like story-reading time, school holiday programmes and the books for babies schemes have been cut back or stopped entirely, and stock is no longer rotated around branches, meaning smaller branch libraries offer a reduced selection of materials. In the last financial year over 12 full-time-equivalent staff positions were cut, and by 2014 another eight will go’, said Chris Coles.

‘We are aware that new technologies are affecting some people’s reading and listening habits, but question whether the need for libraries has reduced. But it’s timely to open up discussion about the future of our libraries’, said Mr Coles.

The debaters include well-known Wellingtonians: For the ‘Yes! Libraries are worth saving’ team, are actor Ian Harcourt, young activist Pollyanne Pena and author Tony Simpson. On the team saying ‘No! Libraries are not worth saving’ are entertainer Pinky Agnew, speech-therapist Heather Drysdale and broadcaster Eva Radich. The debate will be chaired by actor and broadcaster Lloyd Scott.

The Wellington Library Coalition coordinates efforts against the steady deterioration of library services in Wellington, advocates for users and staff of public libraries and brings together groups like: Owners of Wellington Libraries (OWL), Save Khandallah Library, the Public Service Association and library campaigners from Wellington City and the wider region.

The debate will be held at St John’s Hall, Dixon Street, Wellington on Tuesday 3 September at 5.30pm.
Entry is free or gold coin donation, and refreshments will be served from 5.00pm.

For further information, including the recent history of cuts to library funding and services, see the Wellington Library Coalition website: www.wlc.net.nz
ends

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