Get rid of library charges, says MP
Idea could create $93,000 gapMEG THOMPSON
Do you think all library serviecs should be made free of charge?
A political bookworm wants to make all library services free, but the idea could lead to a $93,000 hole in Hamilton coffers.
Labour MP Darien Fenton visited Hamilton this week to meet with the Mayor and other council staff to discuss her Local Government (Public Libraries) Amendment Bill, which was drawn from the ballot recently.
Ms Fenton wants libraries to get rid of charges and have free library services to be protected by law.
"The law says they have to provide free access to libraries but there's nothing about being able to charge fees for things like books and DVDs and computer access."
"They're such an important community base.''
"Many people use them who can't afford DVDs at home, or can't afford computer access, or that can't afford to buy books so I want to make sure that they have the access and that continues."
She said the Bill would require councils to pick up the costs and to fund the libraries.
Hamilton City Library users are charged $6 for new best sellers, $2.50 for DVDs and $2 for pay CDs.
The total haul in rental charges from Hamilton City Libraries was budgeted at around $93,000 this financial year.
"I hope what the Bill will do is stimulate a conversation in our communities about the importance of libraries and whether rate payers, who ultimately fund them, see them as an important part of their community," Ms Fenton said.
This conversation has already started among library users at Garden Place Library.
Ralph Connor, 61, uses the library four or five times a week and thinks keeping library services free is a good idea.
"I get the odd pay CD out and I reserve books, though I'm a wee bit more reluctant to do it now that it costs."
However, he can see why it might not be popular with some people.
"I know that the council are trying to make money.
"Also you've got the choice whether you take those things out, or you don't have to."
Sue Joyce, 58, could also see both sides of the argument.
"I think you need to have something that's free in the community, you need to believe in your community and offer something free.
"But sometimes maybe we abuse the system because it is free."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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