Library plans upset local storyteller

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SOUTHLAND identity, storyteller and well›known former children’s librarian Liz Miller is upset about plans to incorporate the children’s section of the Invercargill public library into the adults’ section.
‘‘It’s absolutely ludicrous,’’ she said.
‘‘Children can’t be real and them› selves if they are in the adult area.’’
The Invercargill City Council (ICC) renovation plans include removing the walls currently separat› ing the existing children’s and adults’ sections to create one open space, replacing the marble pavers at the entrance which have been identified as a slip hazard, installing more electrical sockets for technological devices and providing coffee facili› ties.
Miss Miller started working for the Invercargill library in 1962, spending 28 years as a children’s librarian.
Children needed a safe place where families could be together, she said.
Since at least 1962, the children’s library had always been separate from the adults’ library, she said.
Library manager Marianne Foster said at present, the plan was to relocate the children’s section to where the non›fiction section was currently located in the north›west corner of the adults’ section, but the plans had not been finalised.
‘‘Shelves can be moved.’’
The idea behind the changes was to modernise the library and create an open space where people could move around more easily, and so parents could select books for themselves while keeping their children in their sights.
A consultant recommended the safest place to locate the children’s section was at the back of the space so they could not easily wander out onto Dee St, she said.
She did not expect the noise from the children would disturb the adults, as both areas could be noisy at times, she said.
Ms Foster was meeting with Miss Miller this week to discuss her concerns.
‘‘Miss Miller is a very important person and we want to hear her ideas.’’
ICC building assets manager Paul Horner said the present layout ‘‘divorces’’ people from the library and the library from the people.
‘‘We want to create a community living room feel and make it more accessible and approachable…’’
Mr Horner said the work was initially estimated to cost $400,000, but following a report by a fire engineer received last week, addi› tional work was required to make the building fire›safe.
The cost of that was now being estimated by a quantity surveyor, and was expected be completed in three to four weeks.

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