Aotearoa People's Network

Does no library building mean no library internet?

Ngaruawahia Library
 Ngaruawahia Library, temporarily closed

What happens when a community is suddenly without its library, and what can be done to maintain basic services?

These are questions that Waikato District Library staff have had to grapple with recently after an engineer's report revealed that their library building in Ngaruawahia did not meet minimum earthquake standards. As a result the building has been temporarily closed.

Waikato District Libraries and its six branches, including Ngaruawahia, is an APNK partner so with the closure of the building the community is temporarily without APNK internet too. So we were really intrigued when we heard that, in the absence of APNK Internet at the library, library members would be offered free Internet access at a nearby Internet cafe.

We got in touch with Clive Morgan, Customer Delivery Manager, to ask how that came about and he very generously agreed that we could share his reply here:

"We moved to contingency mode when advised of the bad news about the library closure. The target service level for the first two weeks was basically a service level something above none. This meant we would maintain returns and take orders for next day pick up (reserves) from a temporary desk in the council foyer area. During discussions internally about what services we could offer we decided to approach the local internet café business to see if they would be interested in supporting our library members. The owner was quite positive about it the idea and happy to help. We agreed terms and quickly sorted some information he could use for enquiries. It meant that our members retained a different but similar level of access to the internet. This solution doesn’t provide non members any free access however, they can access the café services on normal business terms.

To date the number of members using the service is low relative to our normal usage. The owner sees this arrangement as not only a community service and an opportunity to work with the local council but also good for his business.

To be able to offer something to our customers so soon after the closure of our library was pleasing.

Our focus is now looking to find temporary accommodation, hopefully we will be back to near 100% service level sooner rather than later."

We applaud Clive and the staff at Waikato District Council for making the best of what is a difficult situation and showing initiative in coming up with a workable solution for their customers. We also think it's great that free internet access is obviously considered a "core service" and valuable for the community.

Although Ngaruawahia Library's situation is fairly unique at present, there's no knowing whether other library buildings around the country might be similarly affected in the future. It's good to know that even without the physical building, that some core service provision is possible.

Here's hoping that suitable accommodations can be found for the library soon and that it's not long before the APNK service to this community can resume as normal too.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

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