girl student with-books

At least 16 years of leaks and months of staff health concerns preceded the closure of a Kapiti Coast Library because of a dangerous mould. Dominion Post, 21 February 2019 

The value of libraries

by Roger Childs

Libraries are key social and cultural hubs in all communities and the reduction of these facilities and their resources is a major issue. The fiasco involving the Waikanae Library is a cause for major Council shame. The budget for magazine purchases was cut some years ago, and now the budget for new books has been slashed.

Many readers will have seen Christchurch’s new TURANGA library which is a great source of civic pride in the garden city. The Council there decided that building a new library following the destruction of the earthquakes was a high priority — but what value does the KCDC place on libraries? 

Toxic resources

Mould, leaks and contaminated books had been issues at the ‘old’ Waikanae Library for over a decade, but why was nothing done?  Staff made numerous complaints. Where were the engineers, health experts and building inspectors? What advocacy over the problems was done by Waikanae Ward Councillor Michael Scott and the Waikanae Community Board?

Of major concern were the health risks of toxic mould, which can cause cancer, and infants and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. How many borrowers have handled contaminated books and magazines in recent years?

A recent report has rightly condemned the Council and their predecessors for dereliction of their responsibilities.  (See Salima Padamsey’s article of 13 August)

Library users will suffer to pay for the debacle

The book budget was cut from $402,427 in the precious financial year to the current $211,073, the council’s Group Manager, James Jefferson, said in a statement on Tuesday. –-Kapiti Observer, 9 August  2019

As Waikanae people know, the Waikanae Library has been closed for several months and a small pop-up library has opened in Mahara Place. To pay for this, the book budget for all four Kapiti libraries has been slashed.  But successive Councils were the ones who were negligent, so why should library users suffer?

One present councilor has observed that there is not the room in the Paraparaumu Library for a lot more books, but one wonders when she last visited it.

A big issue for voters

Voters have the opportunity in October to choose Kapiti’s Mayor, Councillors, their local Community Board, the Greater Regional Wellington Council Kapiti Representative and the Hospital Board. The first three of these have been in office while the library problems have mounted.

Among other issues, their appalling stewardship of the libraries should be a key consideration of who should be elected / unseated this year.