Tauranga City Council want to charge adults a fee to borrow books from the public library. The fee would be 50 cents for each book but would increase to 80 cents in three years time.
Libraries get most of their money from rates. Everyone who owns a house or a flat pays rates to the council. These rates are for city roads, footpaths, rubbish collection, water and sewerage, parks and libraries. Tauranga is about 3 hours by car south east of Auckland. It has a population of nearly 120,000 people. It has four public libraries and a mobile library which travels around the city. The public libraries cost $6.7 million a year and rates pay most of that cost – $6 million. The Council wants the libraries to reduce the cost to ratepayers.
However, no other public library in New Zealand charges for books. It is true that some libraries charge for new books, DVDs and CDs; however, most books are free.
New Zealand has excellent public libraries and they are very popular. Most are modern, attractive with friendly and helpful staff. Most public libraries in the bigger cities have on-line catalogues, free internet, books in Maori and other languages and they are open seven days a week. In New Zealand, our population of 4 million people borrow about 50 million books a year from public libraries. The libraries are busy places. In Tauranga, 60% of residents use the libraries.
At the moment, this idea to charge a fee is a plan only. Many residents are angry about this plan. The Tauranga City Council said that people will have a chance to discuss the plan before the councillors vote on it in May.