Council Declares War on Readers – Library book budget slashed from $402,500 to $211,000

Coman Tait reports that 80% of Kapiti residents belong to our libraries, but they’re being treated like enemies.

There are 41,619 active borrowers, according to Ian Littleworth, KCDC Libraries & Arts Manager.

Highest membership per capita

It is the highest library memberships in NZ. How does KCDC treat us 41,619 residents?

It declares war on them and punishes readers by halving what is spent on new books.

Keeping the swimmers afloat

At the same time it happily spends $9.33 per swim as a subsidy for those using the Aquatic Centre. (Group Manager Tod states “In the 2017 – 2018 financial year the actual cost per swimmer, based on the net operating cost divided by the total number of
swimmers is $9.33. “)

Forget the books, go jump in the pool — KCDC

This subsidy means a person using the pool just 4 times a week is getting gifted $1940.60 a year.

While ratepayer money flows in a torrent into the Aquatic centre the book budget tap is turned down to a trickle. The amount for books per library member is a mere $5.06 per year.

Kapiti borrowers short-changed already

The original budget was totally insufficient. Compare KCDC to Wellington. Wellington has 111,929 library members out of a population of 211,000 (53%).

Yet they spent $2.9 million on new books in 2018. That is $25.91 per reader. To be comparable KCDC should be spending $1,078,000 pa. KCDC is short by $867,000

The reason for this massive cut, to an already parsimonious spend on books?

Mayor and Councillors are punishing readers

A funereal approach to readers from Mayor

It is clear the Mayor and councillors have decided readers have to be punished by making them pay towards repair of the Waikanae Library  leaks.

That is Council’s view of what is fair, what is just. Library members have to pay for Council’s negligence.

The Mayor takes no responsibility. No councillor is responsible. The CEO is not responsible. No staff members have been fired. The humble reader is the only one punished by not having books.

Devastating report indicts councillors

Morrison Low did an independent investigation into leaking at the library. It sets out the negligence of KCDC in very clear terms. The investigation showed it was “widely known that the building leaked and leaked badly”.

This is from back in 2002. Nothing was done to solve the fundamental flaws in the building. No councillor ever raised the issue until it was too late. So late it is costing $2 million to repair.

The former Waikanae Library, closed late last year after the discovery of toxic mould in the building and the book stocks. Why wasn’t action taken years ago?

Mayor Gurunathan’s attitude is clear hit the books

The Mayor’s attitude is clearly set out in his re-election campaign.

In a full page ad in the Kapiti News of 7 August he says “Empower our Community Boards” He goes on to say “To empower them I will support Significantly increasing council funding of the boards”.

So his vote was to decimate library book acquisitions. That money will go to pet projects. By the time the bureaucracy for this is set up there will be another $1 million frittered away.

Forty-one thousand six hundred residents who have shown their interest in reading are ignored. Readers clearly have no political clout. Quiet peaceable book readers will have to be satisfied with reading the same book 100 times. Is that is what they deserve. ? Certainly no new books for them.

Readers ‘ignored’ when budgets are slashed

Reading and mental health

A world-leading neuropsychologist says:

“In readers, the occipital lobe, the visual processing center of the brain, was more developed. This means that the readers could process visual information more efficiently.

This brain trait could translate into enhanced imagination and creativity skills as well as being able to visualize the future better for decision-making and planning. 

The readers’ parietal lobes were also strengthened. The parietal lobe turns letters into words and words into thoughts. It’s essential to writing and reading comprehension.

“Reading helps people’s brains process information both visually and verbally more effectively. Brains that can’t read might also struggle to process verbal information which could be why a slow reader may lag in other academic areas. Reading improves every aspect of a person’s communication skills.

How Reading Increases Your Emotional Intelligence & Brain Function: The Findings of Recent Scientific Studies”, explains how important reading is for wellbeing. The mayor and KCDC reject all this evidence

Reading is the fence at the top

The Mayor is wanting a hospital in Kapiti. Hospitals  are the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Reading is part of the fence at the top.

It can ward off depression. It can maintain wellness, so important in an aging population. Reading gives perspectives of other cultures, of other traditions. It inspires innovation.

Did Kapiti’s Mayor and Councillors read this?

But that is apparently irrelevant in Kapiti. Ephemeral pet projects is the Kapiti solution to creating a brave new world. But what does one expect from those declaring war on readers?

Will library users docilely accept the war declared on them by this Council? One suspects that writing submissions will be pointless. That involves reading.

Readers take to the trenches !!!


Editor’s note: Coman Tait is a pseudonym

Yeah sorry ’bout that. Isn’t a working or at least trying to function democ worth a few more words? It’s not like the two local papers give you much of a go because of reliance on Council contributions…

This anti-social book cutting highlights yet again as if it was needed, how our council views ratepayers and their aspirations. We just do not count in their eyes. This has been the case for as long as I remember and I suppose will keep carrying on. Being an election year we do have some slight (very slight) control on the situation but don’t be fooled into thinking that we can make any major changes. Voting for unknown professional liars to join those already in the ranks has never worked. Some have their hearts in the right place but usually ‘get turned’ while in office for one reason or another. Take Guru for an instance. Intelligent, moral man who fought for ratepayers rights until he became the mayor. Since then he does not behave in the same way because I suppose the system does not allow him to. We ratepayers were better off with him on ‘our side’ than we are today. This new young fella Compton who wants the job will do no better because real power resides in the office workers who we have no say over. They feel quite safe from any wrath we may have for the simple reason that you are unable as a ratepayer to criticize them at any council meeting. It’s against the rules you know? Ratepayers don’t really have any control over any of these people. You could always go to a meeting and wait three hours to speak to folks who aren’t really listening but why bother? Three minutes is all your worth to them, three whole minutes. If this is what power does to you then you can keep it. I personally would love to see what a truly democratic institution is like to live under but I will never live long enough to witness such a thing. It goes way beyond mere books this power buzz thing. “Vote for me and I’ll set you free” is their cry when they need you once every three years. Then it turns into, “Sorry w don’t have the money for that”. And here was me thinking that wads of cash from our pockets flows in an unending river into council’s bank accounts daily. Try it sometime. Take a long book, sit down and try to ignore the political babble and get your three minutes of freedom. Well not really three minutes because they do rather like to put you off by interrupting your flow to ask inane questions while at the same time recording your time which will finish when the wee bell sounds. Alternately you can also view most council meetings live as they happen via the interweb. Maybe get a few friends around to watch with you. That way you get to see the sham democracy we have in an undiluted form without having to leave home etc. Have a good election and don’t forget to vote for every candidate who mentions the ‘climate’. (Hint: they will all do that of course because it a vote whitebait net kinda a thing for them). Also doing it that way you do not risk getting arrested by the Police for tresspassing as that guy did a few years back.


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