Wellington Scoop

Coalition concerned by cuts to library staff, says result will be more service cuts

Press Release – Wellington Library Coalition
The Wellington Library Coalition today asked why libraries are being targeted with significant decreases in funding when other areas of council spending clearly show a significant increase in investment?

The coalition has congratulated the Wellington City Council on its decision to maintain existing opening hours at its libraries across the city. In its annual plan, adopted yesterday, the Council has agreed not to proceed with earlier proposals to cut Khandallah library’s morning opening hours, and not to reduce evening opening hours at other branches.

‘This shows that Councillors have been listening to the concerns of communities across Wellington about ongoing cuts to library hours and services.’

At a presentation for the coalition to the Council yesterday, Chris Coles sounded a note of warning. ‘Although the Council has backed away from cuts to opening hours, we understand that eight fulltime positions are being cut from Library staff across Wellington. After years of budget cuts, there is no leeway in the system, so this inevitably means that services will be cut further. Already we’ve seen cuts to holiday programmes for children, weekly pre-school story times, and children’s book clubs, not to mention the loss of professional and frontline library staff.’

‘Funding for libraries in Wellington has declined. From analysing the Council’s spend on library services over the last 5 years we know that between 2007-2008 and 2011-2012 the percentage of Council operational expenditure on library services has declined from 6.7% to 5.6%. If the Council had maintained the level of funding at 6.7% over the last five years then libraries would be over $8.5 million better off today. Other areas of Council spending have not received the same level of cuts, with some enjoying significant increases in operational funding over the same time period.’

‘This is unsustainable in the long term’, said Mr Coles. ‘Library cutbacks affect the people who need those services most. We have asked to meet with WCC Chief Executive Kevin Lavery, and we will be seeking assurances about the long term funding for libraries in Wellington.’

WCC spending on libraries

1. Comparison of financial years 2007-2008 and 2011-2012

Year Inflation WCC Total Income WCC Total Expenses WCC Total Operational Expenses Libraries Operational Expenditure
2007-2008 $360,400,000 $334,900,000 $319,990,000 $21,366,000
2011-2012 $465,300,000 $403,100,000 $381,500,000 $21,234,000
Change +15% +29.1% +20.4% +19.2% – 0.6%

2. Decreasing investment over time
In the same time period the percentage of the total Council operating expenditure devoted to libraries has decreased from 6.68% to 5.61%.

If Council had kept the level of operating expenditure at 6.68% over the last five years, the libraries would be over $8.5 million dollars better off today.

Total Operational Expenditure Actual Library Operational Spending % of Total If 2007-2008 level of Library funding (6.68%) had been maintained Difference in Funding
2007-2008 319,990,000 21,366,000 6.68% 21,366,000 0
2008-2009 336,741,000 21,543,000 6.40% 22,484,478 941,478
2009-2010 337,088,000 21,539,000 6.39% 22,507,648 968,648
2010-2011 348,582,000 20,600,000 5.91% 23,275,112 2,675,112
2011-2012 378,501,000 21,234,000 5.61% 25,272,828 4,038,828
Total 1,720,902,000 106,282,000 114,906,066 8,624,066

3. Libraries targeted for cuts
Cuts to libraries over recent years are out of proportion to changes in other Council operations. Areas that have seen significant funding increases when comparing 2007-2008 with 2011-2012 include:

Transport planning and policy 45.17%
• City promotions, events, attractions 57.07%
• Business support 273.71%
• Green Open Spaces 26.70%
• Water network 31.05%
• Galleries and museums 31.99%
• Recreation services 34.78%
• Community support 36.08%
• Maori engagement 127.00%

Wellington Library Coalition advocates for users and staff of public libraries in Wellington, and brings together groups like Owners of Wellington Libraries (OWL), Save Khandallah Library, supporters of the Brooklyn Library, library campaigners from Wellington City and the wider Wellington region, and the Public Service Association. All share concerns about cuts to library hours, services and jobs.

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  1. peter@southwelly, 28. June 2013, 12:15

    Cutting funding to libraries is an easy target. It only confirms what most ratepayers and residents think – most of the existing Councillors are brain dead.

  2. Hayley Robinson, 30. June 2013, 18:29

    Cutting frontline staff, whose work is disproportionally important (in a positive sense) to ratepayer services should never be the answer. Other people passionate about libraries may like to follow my latest Official Information Act requests on FYI.org


    I have yet to meet a single Wellingtonian who thinks the prospective librarian job cuts are a good idea. I sincerely hope the Wellington Library Coalition will be starting an e-petition regarding the job cuts because I would dearly love to sign one (having declared my intention to stand unfortunately renders me ineligible to start such a petition).

    Hayley Robinson
    candidate for Council, Onslow-Western Ward