City of Literature mayor defends library cut

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull has defended a proposal to cut access to part of the central library on Sundays.

This comes after a concerned resident, who did not want to be named, said the proposal to no longer open the library's heritage collections on Sundays was ''ironic'' given the city had just gained Unesco Creative City of Literature status.

A summary of the proposal said it was estimated to save the city $7605 in the 2015-16 year and $12,583 in following years.

The heritage collections take up the third floor of the library and hold more than 120,000 volumes of books, journals, manuscripts, newspapers and pamphlets, as well as archival and genealogical material.

Mayor Cull said the proposal, included in the draft long term plan, was part of cost-saving efforts across the council and disagreed it was a bad look coming so soon after the City of Literature announcement last December.

Figures showed only a ''very small'' group of people used the facilities on Sundays and the proposal was a way of saving money without having a large effect on ratepayers, Mr Cull said.

There were better ways to support the city's designation as a City of Literature than keeping a relatively little-used part of the library open.

Cr Aaron Hawkins said it was disappointing the council had not been more up-front about the proposal, but was glad people had managed to find it in the small print and bring it to wider attention.

''I do see the irony in the fact that we're asking specifically about finding funding for the City of Literature, while we reduce the opening hours and collections budgets at the library,'' Cr Hawkins said.

Anyone with concerns about the cuts should submit during long term plan hearings, he said.

The summary of the proposal, which if approved will come into force in July, said the McNab New Zealand Collection - which is one of the collections on the third floor - was used by an average of only 32 people on Sundays.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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