Act now to retain library access

Sep 18th, 2018 | By | Category: News
Library access

Tamahere Forum’s Philippa Stevenson, front, and from left, N8N’s Annette Taylor left, David Riddell and Heather Gibbs in the Waikato Times.

It’s not too late to claim the last year of access to Hamilton City Libraries.

One Gordonton resident has told Number 8 Network she was ‘furious’ to be told she couldn’t check any books out of Chartwell Library yesterday.

Gail Riddell is one of 3530 Waikato District Council residents who uses Hamilton city libraries and whose free membership was about to end.

Waikato District Council’s 20-year agreement to allow residents to use Hamilton City Council libraries ended last month. Letters were sent out explaining the options, and offering current, active users in specified areas one, free, 12-month membership per household. After this an annual fee of $80 is required.

“Yes, I had overlooked going into the library with the letter – I couldn’t remember when the deadline was and frankly, my life is busy and stressful.”

She was given a number to ring at WDC.  “They were helpful and have extended the offer for me.  The deadline is October 1 and you’ll be sure I’ll be going in soon with my letter.

“I just wonder how many other people have fallen through the cracks.  They may be sick, busy and not able to follow up – and we didn’t get a lot of time to action it.”

The decision to end the deal has resulted in a storm of protest and a petition from Tamahere school children.

N8N is aware of another resident who was unaware of the changes – she lives alone and is elderly – and missed the deadline. Again, a phone call saw her extension granted.

Interviewed by the Waikato Times in August before the changes, N8N’s Annette Taylor said she was concerned about the vulnerable people in the community.

“… the elderly, those with young children and little income, for whom finding $80 will be difficult.”

More than 5000 submissions were lodged on the topic when initial consultations began last October.

However, WDC ward councillor Dynes Fulton told N8N in August that the changes were a short-term move as complex details were worked through.

“The long term goal is to actually increase access to libraries throughout the Waikato region, across council boundaries, whether it be Waipa, or Matamata/Piako District Councils. Our hope is that Hamilton City will be part of this.”

Rather than being a ‘done deal’ future options and solutions were being pursued – a process that should be concluded within the next 12 months.

One WDC councillor has told reporters he is working with HCC to return to the original agreement.

WDC Tamahere councillor Aksel Bech told the NZ Herald a number of options were being looked at to ease the tension for Waikato library users, including a one-library card.

“Waikato District council is very supportive of that. If we can achieve this it would mean any library user could go to any council-run library in the wider Waikato and borrow books so not only Hamilton City Council but also if holidaying in Raglan or Waihi,” Mr Bech said.

“I have also committed to connect with my HCC counterparts to also explore on what basis we could return to an arrangement with them.”

Tamahere Forum editor Philippa Stevenson told the Herald she would welcome a ‘one card to rule them all’ – “I want all Waikato residents, city and rural, to have free access to all greater Waikato libraries.”

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