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We must protect free access to public libraries

Megan Woods
MP for Wigram

12 June 2012

We must protect free access to public libraries

A Bill to protect New Zealanders’ access to free public libraries has been lodged into the Parliamentary ballot by Labour MP for Wigram Megan Woods.

“With the introduction today of National’s Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill, councils will soon face increasing pressure to cut services.

“It is important now more than ever that Government ensures that public library services are free for all New Zealanders,” Megan Woods said.

“Under present law local authorities who provide for libraries are only obliged to ensure local residents can join the library free of charge. Over time we have seen a growth of user charges. The Government’s proposed amendments to this Act will only make this situation worse.

“My Bill fulfils UNESCO Guidelines on Libraries and Information by ensuring that all local authorities provide libraries and ensure that there is no charge for library services, including books, digital information and access to the internet,” Megan Woods said.

“If we want an economy based on knowledge and innovation we cannot deny the coming generation of Kiwi kids access to the treasure troves that are our libraries. I developed my love of reading and learning at the old red brick Christchurch Public Library, and I am determined to protect this right for future generations.

“It is important that this vital public service is protected by law and kept free and available for all. Public libraries have been a cornerstone of our local communities for generations, and we must ensure that they continue to be for future generations.

“Public libraries should not be seen as a way to generate revenue by councils, and need to be maintained as a free and essential service for communities. Labour supports the call by the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) to have such free public library services enshrined in law.

“The Bill would also require the National Librarian to monitor and report on the implementation to provide free library services and to make recommendations concerning those obligations.

“I urge the Government to support this legislation to ensure that the role that public libraries play in our communities will be maintained for all New Zealanders, and to ensure that public library services do not fall victim to the Government’s proposals for tightening council services,” Megan Woods said.

ENDS

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