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. “)
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
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.
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.
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.
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