The building of new libraries in Tauranga has receded far into the future after the council dropped its population-based formula.
Instead of the development of new libraries being driven by the requirement for 41sq m of floor area per 1000 people, a less defined set of criteria was adopted.
The council this week unanimously supported the new policy which now goes out for public consultation.
It stuck with the population-based formula for new books of 2.6 stock items per resident because the costs could be accommodated in budgets for the next three years - achieved by savings from the New Zealand exchange rate making books cheaper and the growth of eBooks.
Council strategic planner Cheryl Steiner said the new policy was a more realistic approach that reflected the changing face of libraries and how people used them.
The disadvantage of moving away from the population-based formula was that it would be harder to justify building a new library. It means that the only new library space for the foreseeable future will be the planned small extension to the Greerton Library.
Up until then, it had been assumed that Bethlehem would one day get a new library, with Welcome Bay also in contention.
The report said that although eBooks were now much the same price to buy as print books, they only incurred a $1 charge for cataloguing whereas processing a book cost $7.65 including plastic covers and labels. To help build the use of eBooks, the library will trial removing the $2 charge for a year.
Yesterday's meeting, which attracted a big gallery from the Friends of the Libraries, did not touch on the issue which galvanised the community last year - the threat to scrap the mobile library service.