Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Borrowing book charges

Recognising that in times of economic stringency there is a tendency to look for ways of raising funds for public services other than by taxation, the Association asserts that it is essential that a basic level of public library provision be retained in accordance with its Standards for Public Libraries, 2004:

1. Public libraries should be free and universally available.
2. Public library services should be available free of charge, except such charges as defined in the Standards.

The UNESCO Public Library Manifesto (1994) states that “Constructive participation and the development of democracy depend on satisfactory education as well as on free and unlimited access to knowledge, thought, culture and information.”

Public library usage in this country is amongst the highest in the western world and LIANZA opposes any limitations on access to collections by New Zealanders due to user charges.

So this is the official position for New Zealand public libraries.

Funny that. Things are done differently here on at 40S.
Tararua District Library provides public library services at four locations throughout the Tararua District.

There is an annual card fee of $10 for those 18 years and over, due in July. The card gives you full use of each of our four community libraries for the purpose of borrowing books

And obviously Tararua District Council public libraries are not members of LIANZA.

If it goes ahead, New Zealand and Denmark will be the only two countries to charge for library loans.

And TV One would do well to do some research before making claims that Tauranga charging would be in new territory charging for borrowing books.

In Tararua, it has been so for almost a decade. And is now considering removing the charge because their customers have plummeted to one third.


ZenTiger said...

There's not too many things I'm keen to pay taxes on.

However, free library services is one of them.

Government interference with Library Management (getting them chasing the bottom line) is really beginning to piss me off.

Psycho Milt said...

obviously Tararua District Council public libraries are not members of LIANZA

It's more like "obviously public libraries are owned by the relevant local authorities, which don't give a rat's ass what LIANZA thinks."

If your local authority can't afford to run a public library despite the shitload they're charging you in rates, it would be useful to know what they can afford. Usually, it turns out they can afford stuff like enormous CEO salaries, overseas trips and "beautification" projects that involve rearranging the same public spaces they just rearranged 10 years ago - it's only the actually-useful stuff they struggle with.

ZenTiger said...

Indeed PM, agreed on all counts. Which is why I very decidedly blamed "Government interference" rather than the actual Library Management team, which are probably hiding their heads in embarrassment.

Not too sure they should be turned into video rental shops either for that matter.

PM of NZ said...

ZT, Couldn't agree more - I have previously blogged on my views re free libraries being a core service councils should fund for free access.

PM, Nice to see you over here. Agree with the comments re the salaries and trips being poor priorities. Eg, witness the recent gold-plating of Dannevegas streets with poorly chosen pavers ex UK which need high maintenance to keep clean and will be paying for through the next decade and more. Along with street furniture that keeps getting demolished by trucks navigating sharp corners.

Since you are the resident expert in matters library, do NZ council public libraries have to belong/adhere to a professional body/standards such as LIANZA?

PM of NZ said...

ZT, the reason I put up the post was because TV1 was making out the sky would fall with charging for books in Tauranga, insinuating that Tauranga was breaking new ground. Lazy reporting without research.

pdm said...

CHB District Council were charging lending fees on books at the Waipawa and Waipukurau Libraries in the late 80's and probably for a while before.

Psycho Milt said...

do NZ council public libraries have to belong/adhere to a professional body/standards such as LIANZA?

They don't have to belong, but most do. LIANZA's pushing to increase the professionalism of librarianship through professional registration, but the fact remains that public libraries are owned by local councils, and these are free to ignore LIANZA's best-practice guidelines if they want to.

I'm not involved in public libraries other than as a customer so don't have any deep insights to offer, but the issue is a perennial one. Libraries are expensive and funded almost entirely through rates, so every councillor with some pet project they're enthusiastic about sees the library as a black hole sucking funding from whatever it is he'd prefer to fling ratepayers' cash at.

That means there's constant pressure on libraries to reduce costs or increase revenue - not a bad thing in itself, but there's only so far you can take it without defeating the purpose of a free library service.

I noticed one librarian commenting that previous experience with charging for loans indicates that if you shift from a free service to a nominal charge like 50 cents per item, the additional infrastructure and labour required ends up costing more than 50 cents per item. Librarians are suspicious that the real aim is to discourage usage of the library so that there'll be an excuse for funding cuts further down the track.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.