To clear up confusion about the changes to Auckland Libraries happening as part of the Fit for the Future programme, Greg Morgan, Auckland Council’s Acting General Manager of Libraries and Information, is responding to some of the statements made in the media and elsewhere.
MYTH: Fit for the Future is all about e-books, and interest in e-books has peaked. The council is doing this to force digital services on its customers.
Fit for the Future responds to a number of factors, not just to developments in digital technology. These include the changing nature of libraries, the expectations of library users, and Auckland’s growth and diversity.
Under the new model, Aucklanders can expect to see more staff in libraries at busy times, as well as better resourced digital, online and telephone services, and an expanded mobile service that will reach more socially and geographically isolated communities.
Ensuring libraries provide spaces and programmes for people in communities will also continue to be a priority.
We are not getting rid of books or looking to close libraries. We will continue to develop our physical collection.
We’re working to balance a growing range of offerings and help our libraries respond to changing demand from users.
It is important to note that digital services aren’t just about e-books. Every day library staff help people participate in an increasingly electronic world. A number of our libraries also offer opportunities for visitors to develop their digital skills and creativity through coding, robotics, digital music and 3D printing.
MYTH: Auckland Council has kept the details of Fit for the Future secret, and deliberately excluded the public from the process.
The Fit for the Future changes will deliver on the strategic directions the council set for libraries when Te Kauroa - Future Directions was released in 2013. There was extensive consultation in the development of Te Kauroa.
Many of our staff were involved in the development of the new model we are adopting and we have been working closely with the PSA throughout.
The plans were made public once they had been finalised, following extensive feedback from Libraries staff, and once we had communicated the decision to staff. Trying to ensure our staff were the first to know about any developments or decisions has been our priority.
The final design of the new model was announced to the public through a media release and media briefing, alongside an OurAuckland story. We have also provided updates on the Fit for the Future process on OurAuckland since October 2016 and have been proactively updating the media at key points in the process.
MYTH: Fit for the Future is exclusively about cutting costs and reducing staff numbers, and gives no thought to the needs of individual communities.
There are a number of drivers behind Fit for the Future, and operating within the available budget is only one of these.
Fit for the Future is designed to match staffing with changing expectations from library users, and to ensure that libraries can respond to community expectations and local board priorities.
The new model will see our library staff working to provide new services and programmes that are relevant to the changing communities they serve.
MYTH: These changes are going to see a decrease in the quality of service at libraries, all to cut costs.
We’re confident that the new model for Auckland Libraries will mean that the high levels of service provided to visitors at every one of our 55 libraries, along with our heritage, research and central library services, will continue to be of the quality our customers are used to.
MYTH: All libraries staff are opposed to the changes, and managers have little concern for their staff's wellbeing.
The PSA made it clear to us that an Expression of Interest (EOI) process was the fairest way for everyone. Our staffing levels are now lower than the numbers outlined in new structure, so we are moving quickly through the recruitment phase in order to deliver the benefits of the new model.
Auckland Libraries staff are actively engaging in the EOI process, and thinking about the opportunities they have, while keeping a great service running.
There are more than enough roles available for staff who want to apply for them, including many new positions.
Change of this scale is never easy. In the coming months we will work hard with staff to implement these changes and confirm their roles.
MYTH: Auckland Council is making cuts to libraries staff in order to make changes to the Auckland Libraries website. These changes will include removing the catalogue.
New websites for Auckland Council and Auckland Libraries will be launching later this year to replace the current unsupported and outdated sites. This is a separate initiative from Fit for the Future, and funds for updating the website have not taken funds from other parts of the library service.
The new Libraries website will absolutely not be removing the library catalogue. In fact, it will offer easy access to the catalogue so our customers can find books, magazines and place requests, along with e-books, major databases and unique heritage resources.
The libraries website responds to the changing needs of customers, and is based off the feedback submitted by over 10,000 people. The new website will ensure the content users value most, like the catalogue, will be easy to find and navigate.