170 jobs secured as part of $58.8m investment in NZ’s libraries


“The package – announced by Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin at Christchurch’s Tūranga on Friday – will result in at least one “upskilled” librarian in every local authority across the country.

The four-year initiative will also fund free internet access in all public libraries and provide specialist library services for schools and young people.

There are more than 600 libraries across New Zealand, employing about 2500 people. The funding boost recognised the important role librarians play, Martin said.

“Half of this funding, $30m, will ensure librarian jobs are directly protected,” she said.

“This is targeted funding over two years to keep librarians in jobs and upskill them to provide extra assistance to jobseekers and to people wanting to improve their reading and digital literacy skills.

“Libraries play a vital role as a community hub, and they can be the places where people can get real practical help during the tough economic times.”

Martin, who relied on her local library to learn IT when she was made redundant in the 1990s, said Tūranga was an example of “what libraries are and can be”.

“Libraries have been having to argue their position inside communities for a few years. But they are the hub of communities, they are key places that people need.”

Christchurch has 22 libraries: 19 physical sites, the Finger Tip service, the Outreach programme and the Mobile Library. There are 316 frontline library staff in Christchurch. Many are part-time, so it equates to about 235 full-time positions.

Auckland City Council has 65 libraries, Wellington City Council has 13, and Dunedin has six.

National Librarian Bill Macnaught said the sector appreciated the additional funding.

“I want to work with colleagues to make sure that we spend this money wisely and quickly to get it into the hands of libraries up and down the country at this time when libraries are needed most.”

Chris Hay, manager of Tūranga and president elect of Public Libraries of New Zealand, said it was “marvellous” news for the sector and communities in New Zealand.

“This gives us a spark to really make a difference.”

The Government cash will also fund:

– $13.3m over four years for specialist library services for schools and young people.

– $11.5m over two years to help maintain library services by waiving National Library subscription charges to libraries.

– $4m over four years to extend the National Library’s Aotearoa Peoples’ Network Kaharoa, which provides free access to the internet and devices in all public libraries.

The package also includes a 20 per cent increase to the Public Lending Right fund, the money that is paid to New Zealand authors who have books available through public libraries.

The $1.6 million extra over four years is the first increase to the fund since 2008.”