Borrowing a library book would need to cost $1.50 a time if the Timaru library was to pay its own way.
The Pleasant Point Community Board wants those using the Timaru library to pay for their books, as well as suggesting entry fees be charged at both the Aigantighe Art Gallery and South Canterbury Museum. The money saved could then be spent in rural areas on road maintenance and seal extension.
Sealing a kilometre of unsealed road costs between $150,000 and $180,000.
The district's three libraries will cost $1.94 million in 2012-13.
It was difficult to gauge the average number of books a library user borrowed, as some borrowed only one item at a time, while others might make a monthly visit and borrow many, or a whole family might take out books during a single visit, libraries manager Michelle Miles explained.
She knew of only a couple of libraries which charged for the majority of adult collection, while others charged for bestsellers while making free copies of the same titles available on a waiting list. She was unaware of any library charging for children's books. The Timaru library charged only for CDs.
The library supplies 300 to 400 books a year to the small Pleasant Point library.
Visitors, especially those from out of the district, were encouraged to make a donation when visiting the South Canterbury museum, director Philip Howe said.
Some museums, especially those not operated by councils, charged all visitors, Mr Howe explained, while others like the Rotorua Museum charged out-of-district visitors $18.
It will cost around $626,000 to run the museum in 2012-13. More than 22,000 people used the museum services in 2010, including almost 11,000 casual visitors, 1890 who came with visiting groups and 3196 school visitors.
The Aigantighe will cost $453,000 to run with income from exhibitions, sales and donations likely to be around $10,500. The gallery charges to hire its space as well taking 25 per cent commission on work sold by artists or groups (excluding non profit organisations).
The donation box inside the gallery door did not receive a lot of use, gallery director Dr Fiona Ciaran said. Some galleries charge but she said that was usually when there was another attraction there as well.
Last year 32,800 people visited the gallery.
IMPOSING CHARGES A BACKWARD STEP, HERALD READERS SAY
Borrowing a book from the library should be free, or incur only a very small fee, most of those commenting on The Herald's Facebook page believe.
Among those to respond was Cr Steve Earnshaw, who considered charging for the library would be a retrograde step as the district's libraries were well used by those in the community, who would otherwise not be able to afford access to information and education. He considered to take that away from them would be a very retrograde step,
Debbie Kelliher suggested if they started charging, no-one would go to the library or museums.
"People will just use the internet and children will grow up not knowing that they are available. For the ones who don't have the money, they will miss out. Surely there is another way to save," Ms Kelliher commented.
While Hayley King wouldn't mind paying to see a special exhibition at the museum or art gallery, as a regular library user she was not keen to see borrowing fees introduced for books.
Midge McMillan showed her support for the Aigantighe Gallery, referring to the safe and educational environment it provides for children with its holiday programmes, and the way it attracts visitors from all over the world. "Those who can, contribute to the koha box. To suggest they add a door charge when the gallery already brings business to Timaru is just greedy!"
Tracey Evans took the community board's suggestion and turned it upside down with her comment: "I would prefer they canned the seal extensions and extended the library."
- The Timaru Herald