'Love our libraries, save our librarians' - petition presented to Auckland Council over plan to cut funding

Members of the Love Our Libraries lobby group have this morning presented a petition to Auckland Council over its plans to overhaul the city's library service.

A lobby group today presented the council with a petition against plans to cut funding. Source: 1 NEWS

Auckland Libraries will shave $1.8m of its $65m annual operating budget, with 80 per cent of staff having to apply for newly-created roles.

Julia Schille, from the Love Our Libraries group, urged Mayor Phil Goff and Auckland Council to "love our libraries, save our librarians".

Library staff could be spread across several libraries, instead of one.

Ms Schiller told 1 NEWS that would damage the relationship between children and librarians.

"It's quite dehumanising, it's like they're being treated as parts in a machine, not people with expertise," she told 1 NEWS after a petition containing 3,200 names was presented.

A petition will be presented to Auckland Council today to try and stop funding cuts to libraries. Source: Breakfast

"[The library] isn't just a place to get resources. It's about relationships."

Mr Goff told 1 NEWS the changes will "lead to extensions in the areas of electronic accessing of libraries… and mobile library services".

"No library will be closed, no service will be cut. That's the bottom line, I have that assurance directly from the head of libraries," he said.

"Libraries, as every other section of council over the coming year, have got to demonstrate where they can get better value for money.

"That's not cutting services, it's simply getting better value."

'We are facing an interesting transitional time'

While the issue is currently an Auckland one, councils across the country are watching with interest.

Chris Hay, from the Library and Information Association of New Zealand, acknowledges new technologies like e-books are changing libraries, but still thinks there's a place for them in New Zealand.

Speaking on TVNZ 1's Breakfast programme today, Mr Hay said: "We are facing an interesting transitional time as technology is replacing some aspects of what we're doing."

Mr Hay says 2.1 million people across New Zealand belong to a library and that libraries are, "still at the heart of our communities".

"Libraries are still really busy places … libraries are a place to access those traditional services – reading, borrowing books, but also they're places for growth and connection socially," he said.

"They're places increasingly for learning and developing and I think we're transitioning into a slightly different sector as we move on."