Tasman district councillors shelve call to cut 'new book' library charge

New-book rentals generate about $60,000 a year for Tasman libraries.

New-book rentals generate about $60,000 a year for Tasman libraries.

A $1.50 charge to borrow "new books" from libraries in Tasman district looks set to stay after councillors rejected a call to can the fee.

Tasman district resident Nicholas Wiffen wrote the only submission on the bulk of the council's proposed schedule of charges for 2017-18. In his submission, Wiffen says the idea of a public library should be that it is "accessible to all".

"Please consider funding our public libraries such that [they] do not need to charge for reading books," he says. 

The funding of Tasman District Libraries, including Richmond Library, is set to form part of the 2018-28 Long Term Plan ...

The funding of Tasman District Libraries, including Richmond Library, is set to form part of the 2018-28 Long Term Plan discussions.

For the first two years after they go on the shelves, new adult books borrowed from libraries in the district incur a $1.50 charge. After two years, they can be borrowed at no cost. There is no charge for new books from the children and teen sections of the libraries.

TDC community development manager Susan Edwards on Thursday told the community development committee that the annual budget for new books was "a little under" $300,000. New-book rentals generated about $60,000 a year. 

"Therefore, at this stage to try and remove that from the budget would be very problematic because we'd have to find an alternative source of income," Edwards said.

That would "probably" mean an increase in rates or a cut to library services, she said.

The committee agreed to recommend to full council that Wiffen's submission be declined. If the committee's recommendation is accepted by the full council, that means the $1.50 charge will be retained for 2017-18.

However, Wiffen is not alone in his concern about library charges.

Richmond Ward councillor Dana Wensley said the books people wanted to borrow from the library were the new books.

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"We're charging $1.50 per new book so that amounts to ... if you take one book out a week ... $78 a year," Wensley said. "One constituent has complained to me that when they go and get books for their family, their family of four or five, they could be charged $15 every time they take those books out."

The system was "basically user pays", she said.

Wensley wanted a review of the funding for libraries as part of an overall discussion about the allocation of money between sport, recreation and library services.

"I think we as community development [committee] seriously need to consider why we are funding some things like the resurfacing of the wet hockey fields at Nelson City Council ... whereas our own library – Motueka Library – is struggling to get that money to re-do what they need to do there to provide a library that's fit for purpose," she said.

The councillors agreed the discussion about the allocation of funding between sport, recreation and library services would be part of the Long Term Plan 2018-28 process.

It could spark a robust debate.

Moutere-Waimea Ward councillor Dean McNamara said some of his constituents would say "they've got pretty well-educated sheep because they are paying library rates on land that has got no other house on it".

"So it doesn't sit well with me," McNamara said.

The committee did agree to recommend to full council some changes to the draft schedule of charges including the removal of a $5 Tasman District Libraries fee for the loan of a children's book from another library. However, it is recommended the inter-loan fee charged by the source library be retained. The committee also agreed to recommend retention of the existing overdue book charges for children's books, which generate about $12,000 a year.

Consultation on the solid waste fees in the draft schedule of charges is going through a separate consultation.

 - Stuff


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