Auckland Libraries rejects claims restructure could result in rolling closures

The Fit for the Future programme aims to future-proof Auckland's 55 libraries by better resourcing digital, online and ...
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The Fit for the Future programme aims to future-proof Auckland's 55 libraries by better resourcing digital, online and telephone services and expanding mobile services to reach isolated communities.

Auckland Council is rejecting claims a restructuring process for libraries will result in "rolling closures". 

Community group Love Our Libraries, which originally tried to stop the restructure, released a statement on Monday criticising Auckland Council's Fit for the Future programme. The programme is designed to evolve Auckland's libraries to better meet the growing demand for digital and online services.

As part of the programme Auckland Libraries underwent a restructure which resulted in voluntary redundancy from 74 staff in March. Many of its remaining 926 staff were required to reapply for their jobs.

Auckland Libraries general manager Mirla Edmundson and Auckland Council's chief operating officer Dean Kimpton. ...
JAMES PASLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Auckland Libraries general manager Mirla Edmundson and Auckland Council's chief operating officer Dean Kimpton. Edmundson says no programmes will be cut, opening hours won't change and services haven't been impacted.

Love Our Libraries spokeswoman Julia Schiller said under-staffing was impacting services and could lead to shortened library hours.

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Schiller said she was aware of 71 shifts needing to be filled by workers in July. 

She said library managers had been asked to consider what programmes or special events could be cut due to reduced staff hours.

Auckland Libraries general manager Mirla Edmundson said no programmes would be cut, opening hours wouldn't change and services hadn't been impacted. 

"There will not be any rolling closures. This is purely speculation on behalf of Love our Libraries," Edmundson said.

Edmundson said there were some temporary staffing gaps because some libraries had staff opt for voluntary redundancy or take roles in different libraries.

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Auckland Libraries was looking to recruit about 20 temporary staff for July and August to help bridge any gaps. 

The Public Service Association (PSA) - the union representing library staff - said it had serious concerns about the restructure. 

PSA acting national secretary Kerry Davies said it was clear that cost-cutting had been one of the central drivers of the restructure and it was disappointed by the limited consultation process. 

Davies said its members were anxious about the potential extra workload and reduced hours.

"It's hard to see how this won't result in a diminished level of service," Davies said. 

"There's a 90-day review period when the reforms go live, and we will be taking our members' concerns to the council."

On Tuesday Edmundson couldn't give a final number of redundancies because it was still in the redeployment process. 

The restructure aimed to future-proof Auckland's 55 libraries by better resourcing digital, online and telephone services and expanding mobile services to reach isolated communities.

Auckland Council's chief operating officer Dean Kimpton said the restructure would reduce costs by $1.8 million per year. 

Schiller said Love Our Libraries would continue to document the restructure to ensure there was accountability for management. 

The restructure would be completed on July 31.

 - Stuff

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