by Christopher Ruthe

The geniuses at KCDC have decided that books are no longer the central concern of libraries in Kapiti. All libraries are going to be governed by so called Four Pillars — none of which are about providing books and the other stuff libraries have.

We are invited to enrol in a survey. I tried three times to do this. They would not accept my submission. Why?

Well, if you like to maintain your rights to privacy, and be able to give your views you should not have to tell KCDC all of the following:

  1. Your race
  2. Your full name
  3. Your date of birth
  4. Your reason for being interested in Council activities.

The list goes on and an. I refused to state my date of birth, and presumably that ruled me out. In any other on-line survey I have participated in there is an option “Prefer not to say”. Likewise, with identifying your race they allow you to put “Prefer not to say”. Not KCDC . 

What has my race got to do with it? Will only Iwi be given privileged treatment for instance? 

What has age got to do with it? Your address-? To say whether you are a Kapiti resident or not should suffice. However, they are not interested if you have ever used a library or if you use one regularly. That may have given an indicator that the person has some knowledge of our libraries — and their lack of the latest books. 

This appalling survey, where KCDC will have on record any disagreements you have with Council policy, is abhorrent to us who dislike Big Brother. The sheer incompetence as evidenced by this unacceptable survey is the best indicator of how well these KCDC bureaucrats will be in creating and maintaining 4 useless pillars. Probably, it will be so time consuming they will have no time to find and pick up a book to read. 

These are the Pillars — beautiful art work, eh? So our libraries are going to be all political propaganda, growing the economy and telling us what culture KCDC will consider is allowed to by promulgated within the 4 pillars. 

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Your four pillars are solely about politics,  politics in the sense that libraries will now concentrate on: 

1. Advocating and championing learning and literacy.  Normally that is seen as the role of Central Government working through schools, the Dept of Education, the various Maori organisations etc. Who in KCDC is a qualified policy analyst to undertake this task? Presumably you will get one– so that money for books is gone. 

2. Driver of the local economy.  So you are going to commission lots of local writers and poets, providing jobs? This is just meaningless spin.

3. Strengthening Cultural Identity and Heritage. Which culture? Libraries are meant to have books that reflect various cultures in the form of those cultures’ literature, philosophical underpinnings, religious belief systems etc. That’s what libraries have done since the Greeks first created them.

4. Leader in sustainablilty. Does this mean that all paper-based books are out — they require trees to be cut down — we will go to all e-books? How many hundreds of thousands are you going to spend on establishing what KCDC considers sustainable — will it include, for instance, the ability of ratepayers to sustain Rates increases? Does it mean you want one library for the Coasters — there will only be enough books for one library in the future. The only way to sustain libraries is for libraries to provide the product they were set up to provide.

Go back to the drawing board. Concentrate on books etc and get Council to properly fund our libraries. Kapiti has one of the lowest Council funding per reader in the whole of NZ.

Finally, I need to record that I consider our libraries do a good job in having various courses, including those for children. but those don’t need 4 pillars.