Wellington Mayor Justin Lester and Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons are today releasing the Wellington Libraries Charter, outlining commitments and priorities for protecting the important role of libraries in our communities.
The Charter is in part a response to concerns about the closure of the Central Library, which was a necessity after the building was deemed unsafe.
“We were very disappointed to have to close Central Library, but the safety of Wellingtonians comes first,” Justin says.
“We have opened our first pop-up library and confirmed the opening of two more library facilities in our CBD. We will ensure everyone has the best access to library services. The Libraries Charter sets out exactly how we plan to achieve that.
“We commit to retaining the existing Central Library building unless it is shown there is absolute no way to strengthen the building to make it safe. The Central Library is Wellington’s living room and a cherished component of our city.
We also commit to modernising the Central Library to become a revitalised hub for our communities, including a new home for Capital E, the National Theatre for Children, and an arts and community hub. A revitalised Central Library will also continue to provide the same trusted library services that have served Wellington so well.”
Fleur says that maintaining access to libraries is one of the most important functions of Wellington City Council.
“Libraries continue a vital part of vibrant communities and as many people know they are still wildly popular, especially with some of the more vulnerable people in our society. 3,000 people used the Central Library every day before the closure.
“It’s not just a place to borrow books. People also use Wellington Libraries to access the latest technology, meet friends, or have some quiet space. You might be sharing the library with students who have no other access to the internet, new migrants communicating with their loved ones, or simply someone doing their life-long hobby by reading the latest novels – all for free.
“Our world needs libraries today more than ever. In an age of technology, growing inequality, social isolation, they are core social infrastructure. That’s why we are so committed to solving this.”
The Wellington Libraries Charter
- Libraries will always be recognised as core social infrastructure.
- The Council will retain full ownership of Library facilities and assets.
- The Central Library will not be demolished unless there is no realistic alternative.
- The strengthening or rebuilding work of the Central Library will result in devoted space for children to play and read, and for community groups to meet.
- Wellington Libraries will improve access to services for children and their families including a tailored package of activities for pre-schoolers at each library.
- Libraries will run a dedicated programme of events for school aged children during school holidays.
- Te Reo Māori introduction sessions will operate throughout the library network.
- There will be a renewed focus on digital literacy including by upgrading the computer network and digital literacy training aimed at those who do not have internet facilities at home, as part of a modern approach to delivery of library services.
- The Library will continue to invest in new titles and electronic resources and develop partnerships with libraries across New Zealand and internationally to improve services to residents.
- The suburban library opening hours will be reviewed with a view to improving weekend and evening services.
For more information, call Justin Lester on 021 247 8312 or Fleur Fitzsimons on 027 803 0515.