Glenn Livingstone Email

Email to Glenn Livingstone, Former Councillor for Burwood, 23rd May 2018

“I was in the Shirley Library yesterday and I was reminded again where my submission for the CCC Long Term Plan actually started.

I’ve been meaning to email you to apologize and say sorry if my response to your question came across as rude, during my submission for the rebuild of the Shirley Community Centre at 10 Shirley Road.

I did appreciate your offer of support and question regarding the Shirley Library.

I was extremely nervous, as it was my first time speaking to the Council, and I was trying very hard to answer your question, without voicing my concerns regarding the Shirley Library.
As I was well aware that I had only 5 minutes, which included time for questions, and that my submission was being recorded.

I quoted the research from the CCC Libraries 2025 Facilities Plan (, as I already knew this information was safe to say, as it is already in the public domain.

My Mum would take me and my 4 siblings to the library weekly growing up. I knew the library as a safe, friendly environment, where my library card gave me access to stories and all sorts of knowledge.

I have become a life long learner thanks to my Mum’s encouragement, and the many librarians over the years who have helped me and shared their love for reading and knowledge.

I have in turn shared my love for libraries and learning with my son Ben.
Ben was diagnosed with ADHD, Autism, and Sensory Processing Disorder when he was 6.
Ben is now 10 and loves technology and learning. He has unlimited access to the internet, so he doesn’t see the value in his library card, like I did as a child.
He can access whatever information he wants/needs to through the internet at home.

But Ben does enjoy going to the library as it has always been a safe place for him to experience new things like “Reading to Dogs”, Science Alive lessons etc.
For me, it was a safe environment to take Ben into that I knew if he became overwhelmed or had a meltdown, it would be easy to distract him or leave if needed.
It was a safe place for him to explore, interact with other children, practise talking to and asking for help from the librarians, and it was a safe place to teach him social skills.

Which brings me back to Shirley Library. I wanted to explain what I didn’t feel was appropriate to say in the recorded submissions hearing.
The atmosphere at the Shirley Library has changed. It no longer feels like a safe place, when you walk in the door and see a security guard.

We are use to seeing security guards outside a bank, but what would a security guard be doing at a library?
Ben is inquisitive and is always asking questions: “Why is there a security guard at the library?”

When I went to Parklands Library recently (which is a great library), I was talking to a librarian about my ideas for the Centre and she was quite puzzled too:
“Is the security guard there to protect the books or to protect the librarians?”

What message are we sending to our community when they see the security guard?
– is it a visual reminder to those with a family member in prison, security guards are watching/listening to you here too, just like when you are visiting the prison?
– is it a visual reminder to those refugees that have escaped a war zone, that even in safe NZ, there are people in uniforms watching/listening to you too?

I realise that the security guard is there due to the behaviour of some computer users and that the librarians may feel threatened and unable to deal with these situations by themselves.
I find it quite intimidating to walk into this space now. I don’t feel comfortable staying and usually only go to the Shirley Library to pick up my reserved books.

There are more social issues I see in our community that could be addressed and dealt with through my Shirley Community Centre idea for 10 Shirley Road.
But I realised whether the Community Centre is put back on the CCC Long Term Plan or not, I needed to share my concerns with you as the Councillor for this ward.

The current Shirley Library from my perspective is:
– attracting anti social behaviour by some users
– librarians are not feeling safe in their own workplace
– children are putting themselves in an unsafe place to access the Wifi after hours
– people in our community are disadvantaged without internet access, as so much of our world is now online
– our elderly who don’t drive or have internet access, feel intimidated while waiting to use the computer
– our refugee community has no local safe place to go to for help, which leaves them isolated
– our access to knowledge is hidden in The Palms carpark, not in a prominent location

If you would like to know more about my research and ideas for 10 Shirley Road, my website, is a work in progress and I haven’t had a chance to write about the Learning Spaces yet.
But I see the Learning Spaces as an opportunity to reach out to all ages and stages of life in our community. I have seen how well they work at the Upper Riccarton Library.”