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Keep libraries free, says Labour

Grant
ROBERTSON

Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Spokesperson

Keep libraries free, says Labour

Keeping public library services free for all New Zealanders is behind new legislation drafted by Labour, says the Party’s Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Spokesperson Grant Robertson.

“Public libraries play an important role in our communities. They give everyone access to information and improve literacy and reading, and in many communities are the hub of a diverse range of activities. They also play an important role in strengthening those communities.

“Current legislation only obliges local authorities to ensure local residents can join libraries free of charge. A number already charge or have attempted to charge fees for book lending and other important library services.

“Labour is supporting the call by the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) to have free public library services enshrined in law, and has drafted legislation that will do just that,” Grant Robertson said.

“With libraries now playing an important role in bridging the digital divide for those without personal computers or other devices, it will also ensure no one is charged for accessing the internet via libraries in accordance with reasonable use requirements.

“Our legislation also requires the National Librarian to present an annual report to Parliament on how local authorities are meeting their obligations, and allows the Librarian to make recommendations about the implementation of the law. We see this as an important step in ensuring local authorities maintain free library services.
“Labour will introduce this legislation as a private members bill, but if there is an opportunity before the election, we would prefer the Government act now to reassure New Zealanders that the democratic and educational roles libraries play will be maintained,” Grant Robertson said.

ends

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