Leave our library alone

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 12/10/2012
Grey Lynn
EMMA WHITTAKER

FIRM NO: Rob Thomas, Soala Wilson and Pauline Johns are determined the Grey Lynn Library won’t face the chop again after avoiding closure last week.

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Patrons of an inner city library are determined it won't end up back in the firing line after once again avoiding closure.

All sectors of the Auckland Council have been asked to trim at least 3 per cent from their budgets for rates increases to be kept below 4 per cent for the next year.

Closing the Grey Lynn Library was put before the council as a cost-saving option last week.

Mayor Len Brown has since said no libraries will be axed and the Waitemata Local Board has confirmed it has no plans to close the Grey Lynn facility.

"Local libraries are the responsibility of local boards and we have provided no indication that this is an option for the future," board member Rob Thomas says.

"I would argue that not all services are equal. We value some more than others and the community value of libraries is very strong.

"The governing body will have to look at other options if they are looking at cost-cutting," he says.

But this is not the first time the Grey Lynn Library has come under threat. It was marked for closure three times during the 1990s as the Auckland City Council looked for cost-saving options.

Each time it was granted a reprieve after a strong backlash from the community.

Auckland Council's libraries and information manager Allison Dobbie says there are a number of reasons the future of the library is reviewed from time to time.

"It is housed in a significant heritage building and it is also relatively close to other libraries," she says.

"Longer term a new and larger library serving the wider Grey Lynn and Ponsonby area may be needed. Grey Lynn library is small and will soon need a significant upgrade and repair."

Mr Thomas says it looks like the library is used as a political pawn when it comes to cost-cutting discussions.

Pensioner Pauline Johns is among the residents who are determined that one way or another the library will stay.

For more than a decade it has been central to her life. It's where she met and bonded over Terry Pratchett books with her late husband Ron. Even when Mrs Johns moved to Mt Roskill, she was still a regular visitor.

"I kept getting people to give me rides there, it's such a good library. I wouldn't want to have to go into the city," she says.

The library is also very popular with mothers with young children and many walk to it from Westmere.

Visitor numbers are up by 6 per cent this year and the number of education programmes it runs, including language week activities, has risen by more than half.

Grey Lynn Business Association member Soala Wilson says the council will have a fight on its hands if the closure ever eventuates.

"Grey Lynn will not let the council close it. I would chain myself to the building if I have to," she says.

Ms Wilson says the closure of other public facilities such as the Grey Lynn Post Office has had a big impact.

"It's upsetting for elderly residents who have to catch two buses to pay their bills.

"Len Brown, leave Grey Lynn Library alone," she says.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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