Claim up to 80% not using libraries

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is embarking on a review of its library services and one of the ''big challenges'' for the district, the council's chief executive claims, is that 80% of people do not use or regularly use the seven libraries.

The council's chief executive Adam Feeley yesterday told the Otago Daily Times around ''80% of people across the district don't use the library or don't regularly use the library'' which is ''a big chunk of the community''.

Seven libraries - in Queenstown, Wanaka, Hawea, Makarora, Kingston and Glenorchy and Arrowtown - are available to people in the district.

The council's general manager of operations, Ruth Stokes, said a ''suitably qualified independent consultant'' would be appointed to lead the review.

Mr Feeley's claim was despite protests of up to 150 people in Wanaka objecting to the proposed cuts to library staff as a result of the council's organisational review and the now named Wanaka Public Libraries Association collecting nearly 2000 signatures in opposition to the cuts.

When asked whether the library review, which was announced yesterday, was planned, Mr Feeley said: ''I think it's fair to say that it was very obvious through the organisational review that there was a depth of feeling around the libraries that probably wasn't replicated for people's views, for example, on sewage or roads''.

Yet one of the ''big challenges'' for the Queenstown Lakes District was finding out why the libraries were not of value to some people.

''There is obviously a big part of the community not using it and I think that's as important to understand what might make them use it as to understand what current users might think of the library, as well.''

The organisational review, which was undertaken earlier this year by an independent team, also reviewed library services and proposed libraries become one-stop shops where residents could access a range of council services.

Mr Feeley said the organisational review and the newly announced library review are ''fundamentally different''.

''The organisational review that we conducted was fundamentally about matching current resources to current demands and, once we'd gone through that exercise, producing a structure which best supported that.''

The library review would encompass what a modern library was, what people in the Queenstown Lakes District wanted in their libraries and what the cost of doing that would be.

He said given the level of interest with ''some parts of the community'' about libraries, it would be counterproductive to put out proposals about what the future of Queenstown Lakes libraries could look like.

The Wanaka Public Libraries Association is conducting its own survey about people's use of and satisfaction with the Wanaka-ward libraries.

Mr Feeley said he was unaware of the survey but was certain the group would be vocal in sharing the results.

Chairwoman for the libraries association Nicola Martinovich said the group would be responding to the council's request for feedback and she disagreed with the 80% figure.

''If this review is done correctly by correct people then they should get the correct information out of it.''


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