Monday, 17 May 2010

supporting public libraries

it seems that nothing is seen as a public good anymore. public libraries are supposed to be the means for all people to get information, learn, research or simply to enjoy a good read, regardless of economic status. it's such a pity that these institutions are increasingly adopting a user-pays system in order to survive.

i received the notice below about a public talk in wellington on the subject:

As you may be aware Public Libraries within New Zealand are facing increasing pressure to introduce or increase charges – including charging for borrowing books. The Association of Public Library Managers Inc, whose membership is made up of public library managers though-out New Zealand, believes that charging for book loans will impact those on low incomes, including elderly people and beneficiaries and result in a decrease in the use of library facilities. The Association’s stand is against charging for books because this will contribute to a decline in literacy.

The Association of Public Library Managers and LIANZA (The Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) invite you to a public presentation on “Why Public Libraries Must Be Free" with international guest speaker, Bob McKee, the Chief Executive of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) from the UK.

Internationally, Bob is a member of the Governing Board and Executive Committee of IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions), and is an advocate for Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression. Please join us for an interesting evening and the opportunity to hear an international speaker on this important topic.

When: Tues 25th of May, 5.30pm for a 6pm start, 7pm finish.

Where: Lecture Theatre 1, Ground Floor, Old Government Buildings, Victoria University Law School, entrance off Stout Street.

Cost: Free

via aotearoa ethnic network


SimonD said...

Yes - this absolutely deserves support. Illiteracy is strongly correlated with poverty, charging for books is hardly going to improve this. Good luck

Carol said...

It's not just access to books and other print sources that ought to be free to all sections of society, but increasingly it involves access to electronic sources too.

Gordon Campbell has a good article on the library issue:

School students benefit from access to the library e-resources/databases, with things like a searchable Encyclopedia Brittanica. Many use the library computers for doing homework, unemployed people use the computers to apply for jobs, and children use them in ways that help them to feel incuded in society - the economic cost of social exclusion is very high in the long run.

And while people are in the library using computers, they are in an enviroment with loads of books, sources & exhibitions about local activities, local history etc.

It is so short-sighted and simplistic to think that the wealth of society is created solely by private business. The businesses work because there are all sorts of public services, oiling the wheels of society, supporting or preparing people to work in busnesses etc.

Libraries are a core service that help us to feel socially connected, to value our society etc etc.

No way should there be more user pays services here. Cheap DVDs & CD rentals & best seller rentals, that basically cover cost aren't so bad, but most of the services should continue to be available for free to the public.

This talk in Wellington sounds useful... keep people informed about the benefits and stop the slow user-pays creep. (and I mean "creep" as a verb, and not a noun as in "Rodney Hide").