28 Jan 2010

Warning over library charges

5:57 am on 28 January 2010

A library where charges for borrowing books were scrapped when the number of books being issued plummeted says Tauranga City Council should learn from that experience.

Councillors in Tauranga are considering implementing a 50c charge for adult fiction books, to reduce their libraries' reliance on council funds.

In 1999, Ashburton's library put a $1 charge on books less than two years old. That was scrapped in 2008 after the number of books being issued had plummeted.

The head of the library, Jill Watson, says councils should be aware that most people think borrowing books should be free.

Lobby group Grey Power says older people will suffer if borrowing charges are implemented.

National president, Les Howard, says there would be an outcry if other councils follow Tauranga's lead, and he would advise members not to vote for any city councillors who support the idea.

Tauranga's general manager for libraries, Jill Best, said on Wednesday councillors were likely to discuss the plans again if enough ratepayers object to the proposed charges in annual plan submissions.

The proposed charges, among other changes, are aimed at increasing revenue by $493,000 over the first three years. The cost for borrowing adult fiction books would rise to 80c after three years.