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Budget cuts put pressure on libraries, communities

MEDIA RELEASE
31 May 2013

Budget cuts put pressure on libraries, communities

The Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) is challenging local authorities to think about the long-term future of their communities before cutting library budgets.

Libraries are under intense financial pressure due to on-going budget cuts, with news of restructuring, decreases in opening hours, and staff losses increasingly commonplace in the news. While the Better Local Government reforms emphasise efficiency and financial prudence, that must be balanced with long-term thought about the role and function of libraries in their communities, particularly in view of the move to the online environment in so many day-to-day activities.

LIANZA President Heather Lamond says “we understand that reviews are necessary and a part of life, however, we urge Councils to think hard about the long-term implications for their communities of reducing library budgets and staff”.

“The value of public libraries must not be underestimated; they are a major asset to the community with studies showing that for every dollar spent on library services, the community receives up to four dollars in benefit”.

“They remain at the heart of our urban and regional communities. Public library usage in New Zealand has increased steadily over the past ten years and nearly half of all New Zealanders are registered library members”.

The Kiwis Count survey, carried out by the State Services Commission in 2012, showed New Zealanders were visiting public libraries more often and rated their service higher than any other public service.

“In this digital age libraries are constantly evolving in order to provide the latest technologies but also to provide much needed access to Government services, job seeking assistance and basic digital literacy skills. Budget cuts mean many libraries are already struggling to deliver quality services to their communities. For many libraries, there is simply nothing left to cut”.

LIANZA urges rate payers and constituents to voice their concerns about the erosion of library budgets and services to their local councillors and Mayor.

ENDS

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