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PSA Supports 'Keep Public Libraries Free' Campaign

PSA Supports 'Keep Public Libraries Free' Campaign

The PSA, the largest trade union in New Zealand, supports the drive for legislation that will keep public libraries free across New Zealand.

The public sector union represents the majority of librarians working in public libraries and agrees with the Library & Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) that free libraries will soon be a thing of the past unless that provision is enshrined in law.

“Libraries have a long history of providing books and other information to the public for free and that’s a principle we know our members feel strongly about,” says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.

“Charges would be a personal barrier for many and would restrict libraries supporting all members of the public to be well informed.

“A well-informed, educated population brings economic benefits to the whole country, so it’s regressive to restrict libraries’ ability to support such a positive social outcome.

“Free library services are highly valued by New Zealanders and regarded as a core public service amongst communities, especially in tough economic times, but there is presently nothing to stop local authorities charging for services like book loans.

“We saw a recent example of this when Tauranga City Council proposed charging for all adult fiction and non-fiction books. Fortunately common sense prevailed and the city council dumped the idea, but it would have set a dangerous precedent if it had gone through.

“The situation highlighted the need to take steps that guarantee free universal access to information. This is a strongly held democratic principle in other countries and one that has been protected by legislation in Britain since 1850 when the Public Library Act came into being.

“It’s time New Zealanders took similar action to guarantee universal access to information here. Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time before we are forced to pay for library services.

“2011 is a General Election year and LIANZA will be contacting candidates to advocate the importance of keeping public libraries free. This is something that members of the public can also do,” says Brenda Pilott.

To find out more about this issue visit the LIANZA website: keep_public_libraries_free_background.pdf

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