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New Zealand

Wayne Brown doesn’t seem to know what a library is


Auckland mayor’s comments downplay the skills, expertise and dedication of library staff, undermining the library profession more generally

opinion: Oakland’s volunteer-run library was proposed by Mayor Wayne Brown. This is a cost-cutting measure that could help Congress deal with burgeoning costs of the City Rail Link project and recovery from weather-related damage.

Volunteers play an important role in the community and have been used in libraries for years to expand services and connect with hard-to-reach groups. It does not replace the Librarian Assistant.

Brown’s comments highlight a lack of understanding of the scope of library staff’s responsibilities and the role that libraries play within the community. In an interview with RNZ morning report Focusing solely on borrowing paper books, he noted the decline in published books and young people “digitizing their stuff.”

He remains ignorant of the vast collection of e-books and e-resources available to the public library for reading and borrowing, not to mention the programs, events and support that Auckland librarians offer to individuals, groups and communities across the city. was.

The shift from a transactional model of public library service focused on issuing physical print books to a programmatic model that supports creativity, inspiration and connection seems to have passed him by. These developments require far more staff time and expertise, and it is doubtful that they can be maintained by volunteers.

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take a quick look Auckland City Library website demonstrates the breadth of library services and facilities focused on learning, knowledge, information and community building. All of these contribute to the well-being of individuals and cities. None of these are self-run, and volunteers provide invaluable support in libraries, but lessons from abroad suggest that volunteer-run libraries need enough volunteers and funds to sustain their services. is often difficult to find. Especially in less affluent communities.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if public libraries employ trained and qualified staff or use volunteers. Libraries need both.

In the UK, where more than 780 libraries have closed since 2010 and lost 10,000 staff, the number of volunteer-run (or ‘community-managed’) libraries is shrinking as local councils seek to escape responsibility and costs. Increased has. library in action. In some cases, there has been success in increasing operating hours and usage, but there is wide variation in quality of delivery and unresolved issues of accountability, responsibility, and long-term viability have led to service degradation. There are so many things to do.

a Recent reports I was involved in the evidence that libraries are, as sociologist Eric Klinenberg put it, essential social infrastructure for our communities: true “Palaces for the People.” Libraries open to all provide resources to help communities recover and adapt to the changes brought about by Covid-19, provide spaces for interaction, connection and support, and provide progressive It helps to cope with the isolation that many people experience in a socializing society.

Libraries need trained staff to connect people with the information, resources and support they need for learning, leisure and wellness, and to navigate increasingly complex information and digital ecosystems. Brown’s comments belittle the skills, expertise and dedication of library staff and undermine the library profession more generally.

Brown’s interview also included the danger of “nice to have”, but he didn’t explicitly include libraries in this category. Free, open, and accessible to all library spaces are not just nice to have, they are supported by dedicated and skilled library staff to meet a range of critical community needs. In addition, “nice to haves” often attract people to cities and encourage them to spend time (and money) away from home.

There was one point that I agreed with that Brown made during the interview. He suggested that many of the services and programs provided by local councils should be directly funded by the central government. Public libraries and their staff have expanded their services in response to social, political, and technological developments. This is often the result of government policies and actions. For example, it has become the go-to place for digital government services and technology skills support.

The central government has funded several initiatives, including digital skills training for staff, but these programs have always been one-offs with no long-term sustainable funding prospects. The expanding role of libraries and librarians cannot be effectively resourced with short-term grants.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if public libraries employ trained and qualified staff or use volunteers. Libraries need both. There is no doubt that volunteers add tremendous value to public library services. They take on tasks that are difficult for library staff to do, given their other duties and the minimal staffing levels many libraries operate, and they make important connections within the community. They are an irreplaceable complement, not an alternative, to a welcoming, trained and skilled workforce.

https://www.newsroom.co.nz/ideasroom/it-seems-as-if-wayne-brown-doesnt-know-what-a-library-is Wayne Brown doesn’t seem to know what a library is

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