Peter, slashing library service is not Donne!

David Shearer

In my younger years, I was a schoolteacher.

My father was a school principal, my sister is a teacher and my wife Anuschka worked as a teacher and in reading recovery for several years.

We have two children at high school. As you might expect, education is often a topic at family mealtimes.

For decades, New Zealand’s education system has ranked among the best in the world.

Reading habit

Many things have contributed to that, and one of them is the access our schools have had to our excellent National Library. As a matter of routine, teachers have been able to order the very best books available, on specialist non-fiction topics, in bulk, for our children to use in their studies.

Last year 16,000 teachers ordered nearly a million hardcopy items through this gold-standard library system. That is quality books in the hands of kiwi children.

Systems like this have always given me confidence to know that my children – and all New Zealand children – have been getting the best of the best in our education system.

Don’t cut!

Therefore, I was appalled when I heard recently that the service will be slashed.

From July, children are going to be expected to go online for their research instead.

But this raises problems: there are still many children in New Zealand who do not have computer access.

What are they going to do?

This is an experiment, not a solid, evidence-based educational decision.

Indeed research is increasingly suggesting that children learn more – and retain it more effectively – from books than they do from computer screens.

Cutting this treasured National Library service will save the government only $392,000 per year.

Tell Peter!

If you want our schoolteachers to be able to keep their access to the National Library, I encourage you to write to Peter Dunne, the Minister responsible for the National Library.

He should stop the cuts and let our kids have access to the books they need.

His email ID is

David Sharer is an elected Member of Parliament from Mt Albert and the Labour Party Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Consumer Affairs.

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