New library restructure revealed

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Members of the Love Our Libraries lobby group outside Auckland Council this morning. L-R Julia Schiller, Susan Schiller, Brenda Dwane. Photo / Cherie Howie

By Cherie Howie

The number of people working in Auckland libraries will fall by just under 4 per cent, but voluntary redundancies and natural attrition mean there will be enough jobs for remaining staff, council staff announced this morning.

The council's chief operating officer, Dean Kimpton, said the changes, under the Fit for the Future project, will shave $1.8 million of the libraries' $65m operating budget a year.

No libraries will close and there will be no reduction in hours, Kimpton said.

Council libraries and information general manager Mirla Edmundson said about 80 per cent of staff would have to apply for newly created roles, but she could not say how many of these were permanent, fulltime positions.

The total number of full, part-time and casual positions in April last year was 1120 - with 965 permanent staff and 155 casuals.

Under the new structure, from July 1 there will be 926 permanent full and part-time positions, supplemented by a small pool of casual staff, Edmundson said.

The difference of 194 was made up of 74 voluntary redundancies last year, and natural attrition, she said.

Employee numbers in February were at 878 permanent and 143 casuals.

"There are enough roles for people to go in ... I'm really pleased that the process of attrition has put us in that positive place."

About 80 per cent of staff will have to apply for newly created roles, but the process will be internal and "application light".

Staff will work in library clusters, broken down by local board boundaries. Part-time roles will be a minimum of 32 hour a fortnight, so staff can "train, develop and be engaged".

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Staff numbers will also increase at peak use times, such as weekends, under the changes, Edmundson said.

It was also important staff had the skills to meet the changing needs of users, especially in the digital sphere, Edmundson said.

"This is about being ready for change ... it's changes of behaviour that are leading this."

The New Zealand Public Service Association national secretary Glenn Barclay said the restructure would be disruptive for staff, and make it challenging to maintain existing services.

"We are heartened there will be no further job losses, but the majority of our members will face significant change.

"Library staff will now be based across a local board area rather than a single library, which some members are concerned could lead to a loss of local knowledge.":

The union welcomed the "broad and innovative thinking" in the Fit for the Future proposals, including the enhanced digital services and the increased commitment to Maori.

But it was unfortunate cost-cutting was a driver of many of the changes, he said.

Three protesters from the Love Our Libraries' lobby group waved signs outside Auckland Council's Albert St headquarters as the decision was announced.

Leader Julia Schiller said change should have started at the community level.

"Instead we've had this top down squeeze. We've had 74 people, not FTEs [fulltime equivalents], people, who have taken redundancy and [then] further insulted by being told they don't want to be part of the future.

"Well we want a future with librarians as they are now - part of their community, trusted, loved and serving."

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