- Date published:
10:15 am, November 5th, 2012 - 19 comments
Categories: community democracy, democratic participation, local government, public services - Tags: darien fenton, libraries, social inclusion
It looks like Darien Fenton’s “Keep Public Libraries Free” Bill will soon be getting its first reading in parliament. Public libraries are an important community resource. Keeping their resources and services free contributes to social inclusion and participatory democracy.
Fenton reports that her Bill will be up for its first reading next Members’ Day. LIANZA (The Library and Information Association of NZ Aotearoa highlights the importance of libraries to the community:
As well as providing recreational opportunities, public libraries support those in education and seeking employment. They aid innovation and economic development. Public libraries play a major role in supporting community literacy outcomes.
Libraries provide the means for anyone to interact with government, business and each other.
Statistics show that even a $1 or $2 charge can be a barrier for some people to use the Internet or take out books, music and DVDs.
Libraries are so much more than books in these digital times. They have an important role in e-democracy, education, democratic participation, and social inclusion. The Public Libraries of NZ website summarises the key features of a report, Public Libraries of New Zealand: a Strategic Framework 2012-2017.
Public Libraries are responding to these changes by using technologies to deliver their purpose in new ways. This means access anywhere, anytime, via smart phone or computer, having E-books to download for free, helping local groups to record and store local history digitally so that it can be both preserved and shared, and giving people access to unique New Zealand treasures stored in other places. …
“Libraries are not just about bricks and mortar or even smart technology. They are places where people from all walks of life gather to read, browse, watch, examine, research, share ideas, teach, learn engage and debate. This document can inspire those who read it to continue to encourage these activities, and to deliver library services in exciting new ways, so that they are fit for purpose now and into the future,” says Lawrence Yule, President of Local Government New Zealand.
Darien Fenton has concerns that free public libraries are at risk. The government’s aim is to reduce local government costs through another Bill due to report back to the House soon. She says NZ is out of step with other countries which have laws protecting free library services. Such protections are also in keeping with UNESCO guidelines.
LIANZA has suggestions for the ways the public can help to keep libraries free. this includes visiting their facebook page, using twitter, AND emailing your MP.
Along with WEAs, public libraries developed early in the 20th century to enable workers to participate in a democratic society. Of course the neoliberal NAct government is not interested in continuing such provisions for the 99%.