Proposed library cutbacks shelved

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A plan to cut the amount Dunedin Public Libraries spends on books has been shelved, with the shortfall in council funding to be taken from trusts.

Councillors voted at yesterday's long-term plan hearings in favour of dropping a plan to cut $128,000 from the amount the library spends on collections after its inclusion in the LTP drew a backlash from members of the public.

Councillors also supported shelving a plan to close the central library's heritage collections - including the McNab New Zealand Collection - on Sundays, which would save an estimated $7605 in the 2015-16 year and $12,583 in following years.

Cr Aaron Hawkins initially proposed the council keep council funding for collections at current levels, saying cutting funding was a ''terrible look'' so soon after the city gained Unesco Creative City of Literature status.

Closing the heritage collections on Sundays only brought ''very marginal savings''.

Cr Neville Peat said it seemed ''quite offensive'' to cut spending on libraries when the city's library network contributed to the awarding of city of literature status.

Arts and culture group manager Bernie Hawke responded to Cr Hawkins' proposal by saying it was possible for the shortfall in council funding for collections to be made up by drawing money from trusts bequeathed to the library.

The library could also keep heritage collections open on Sundays by finding savings in other parts of its budget, meaning no extra money would need to come from the council.

He went on to say heritage collections were better used on Sundays than during the week.

Councillors agreed to the alternative proposal from Mr Hawke after discussing its merits.

Cr Jinty MacTavish said she could not support using trust money to pay for ''general running costs'' as it would put other people off making donations.

Cr Kate Wilson voted against the proposal, saying it was an ''operational'' matter and the decision should have been left up to the library and not councillors.

Cr David Benson-Pope disagreed, saying library funding was a policy issue for councillors to make and one that had been raised by submitters.

Cr Lee Vandervis suggested the library look at saving money by moving more rapidly to e-books.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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