Book lovers in Waikato District who use the Hamilton city libraries will have to pay for the privilege, although some areas will have 12 months’ grace.
Access to Hamilton libraries will soon no longer be a free option for nearby Waikato district residents, reports N8N’s sister community website Tamahere Forum.
An overwhelming majority of district residents wanted continued access to nearby town libraries under a long-running Waikato district council-funded scheme but access to the Hamilton libraries alone is to be axed.
Access to libraries in the Waipa, Matamata-Piako and Hauraki district will remain free for neighbouring Waikato residents.
Residents who can continue to access the Hamilton city libraries free for another 12 months are in a specific area identified on a map available here.
At least one councillor has described the axing of the Hamilton library service as ‘very disappointing’.
For up to 20 years, the Waikato council has paid Hamilton City $300,000 a year for its nearby residents to use the Hamilton libraries – a cost that will now fall on individuals who, after a year’s grace, will be up for an annual fee of $80 a library member to continue to have access to the city’s libraries.
Eureka ward councillor Rob McGuire disagreed with the decision and said he thought the council got good value for its money.
Current, active users of Hamilton city libraries will receive one, free, 12-month library membership per household, courtesy of the Waikato council, but after that they will be on their own. Those householders, who must have borrowed at least one book in the last year to qualify, should receive a letter explaining the option soon.
Cr McGuire has suggested that those wishing to provide feedback on the new arrangement could email the Waikato district chief executive Gavin Ion, here.
The initial consultation, which began last October, drew an unprecedented response with more than 5000 submissions lodged on the topic. 47.4% wanted the council to continue negotiating agreements so that residents could access libraries near to them.
Other options, including cancelling the agreements, received less than half the support that retaining them did.
“After undertaking contract re-negotiations it has become clear that the amount of money we were spending with Hamilton City Council would be better used to enhance our own services and investing a shared service across the entire Waikato region,” the council said online in a post that announced the Hamilton deal will end on September 30.
In a Q&A in the same post, the council said it had decided to put the $300,000 it was spending with Hamilton City Council “towards new and enhanced library services in our district.
“…One of the reasons for this decision is that the previous agreement only benefited a small percentage of our residents.”
The affected residents are all in the south of the district because the council’s libraries are in Ngaruawahia, Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Tuakau and Meremere.
The council said over the next year it would “be working closely with our communities to get a better understanding of their specific needs so that we can make sure they are all receiving the right services in the right ways, into the future.”
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