Libraries Are ‘Democracy of Knowledge’

Kat Cuttriss alongside the sadly-depleted magazine rack at Paraparaumu Librqry

Kapiti’s new chief librarian has 20/20 vision  for our reading

By Jeremy Clark (with assistance from the Editor and Associate Editor)

The Kapiti Coast new chief librarian, Kat Cuttriss, has good news for readers across the shelves. Even those, like our associate editor,Roger Childs, who bemoan the loss of high-quality magazines under the previous incumbent.

Kat is a local with a background in library work in three universities, in Parliamentary research and in the corporate sector.

But, as a Kapiti resident for 14 years, Kat Cuttriss says taking a public library appointment ( Manager, Kapiti Coast Arts and Libraries) is a chance to give something back to the community.

And KIN fervently hopes this means more good-quality fiction and non-fiction, more high-quality magazines — and perhaps the return of some of more than 10 librarians displaced under the former regime’s ‘reforms.’

4o librarians at four sites

Since January, Ms Cuttriss has overseen the work of 40 library staff at four  different sites — Otaki, Waikanae,  and Paraparaumu and Paekakariki  which she describes as a “multi-site challenge”.

Ms Cuttriss says that from a librarian’s point of view tertiary institutions compete for the same market whereas public libraries work collaboratively.

She gives the example of the Smart libraries system where Kapiti readers have access to material from Hutt, Masterton, Porirua and the two Wellington technical institutes, Whitireia and Weltech.

The ‘democracy of knowledge’

She says public libraries have a diverse customer base because they must deal with many different groups.  She says libraries are a well-understood concept which allow residents freedom of access to what

Shelves in the ‘Democracy of Knowledge’

she calls the “democracy of knowledge” so they can progress in their lives.

Latest library figures, for October-December 2016 show a slight drop in the number of books taken out  166,666, compared with the same period 12 months earlier.  But the number of Ebooks went up  by more than 700. And the number of E-book users went up by nearly 100 to 503.

Cuttriss says at the moment the cost of E-books means they are less value for money than the physical ones. She also says that DVDs remain popular, despite the arrival of on-line providers like Netflix and the library expects to increase the DVD collection.

She also notes the importance of talking books.

“We have talking book titles in the Junior, Teen, Fiction and Non-Fiction areas – they are perennially popular and we plan to continue developing this collection.  We hold over 2,000 talking books (in our local Kāpiti Libraries) already.  

Getting SMART

Paekakariki Library — a ‘gem.’

And of course library customers can access more of these titles through the SMART Libraries Catalogue.

In addition library users have access to 439 downloadable audiobooks through the Axis360 system.

Cuttriss says all the libraries, apart from Waikanae which has just  been remodelled for health and safety reasons are all up to standard.

She says Otaki is as good example of a community library while the Paekakariki library, right alongside the local tennis court, is something of a gem.

Note: Ms Cuttriss has extensive experience developing, designing and delivering library and information services and was most recently the Associate Director, Library Resource Services at Victoria University of Wellington.