The future shape of Auckland Council’s network of community libraries has been unveiled with the release of a new model that will respond to the changing needs of Aucklanders.
The council last year launched Fit for the Future, a programme of work to evolve its libraries to better meet the growing demand for digital and online services, and at the same time make sure that the services offered at each location are based on the needs of the communities they serve.
- Future-proofing services for the public’s changing needs
- no library closures or reduction of current services
- there are more than enough roles for all current staff who wish to stay with Auckland Libraries
- better digital, online and telephone services to cater to demand
- better-staffed libraries at busy times
- more mobile services.
So, what’s changing?
Mirla Edmundson, Auckland Council’s General Manager Libraries and Information says that while much of what Auckland Libraries delivers will remain the same, among the changes that Aucklanders can expect to see are better resourced digital, online and telephone services and an expanded mobile service that reaches more socially and geographically isolated communities.
“We have always known that people love our libraries and throughout this process we have heard that message loud and clear. That has given us a lot of confidence that we are moving in the right direction and future-proofing our spaces for people now and in years to come,” she says.
What does that mean for staff?
Fit for the Future was launched last year and during the last seven months staff have been involved in workshops and consultation. As part of the process, 74 staff (equating to 48 full-time equivalent staff) who had applied for voluntary redundancy had their applications accepted in March.
The new libraries model will have 926 permanent full-time and part-time staff, which will be complemented by a small pool of flexible relief staff.
Ms Edmundson says that due to the voluntary redundancies and the fact that the department has been carrying a number of vacancies since June last year, there are more than enough jobs available for staff to apply for.
“We have worked closely with the PSA throughout this process and one of the reasons we offered voluntary redundancy was to minimise job losses at the end. We’re happy that we are now in a position where there are plenty of roles for staff who choose to be part of the future of our libraries to apply for,” she says.
The new model will see also staff based across libraries within a local board area rather than a single library, and will also provide opportunities for professional development. It will also give a number of part-time staff increased job security by setting a minimum of 32 working hours per fortnight.
Value for ratepayers
In addition to an improved business model, the cost to deliver the same level of service will reduce by approximately $1.8 million a year, meaning better value for money for ratepayers.
Confidence in the future
Councillor Penny Hulse, Chair of the Environment and Community Committee, says while the programme has been designed to adapt to change, there are a number of things that will stay the same.
“Every single one of our 55 libraries, along with heritage, research and central library services, will continue to offer the same opening hours and high quality service and experience,” she says.
“Aucklanders love their libraries and I’m confident that the changes will ensure these remain vibrant places enjoyed by people of all ages.”