Whanganui's two newest library hubs are asking for more council support and say they may have to close without it.
On Wednesday Jane Bilderbeck, who manages the Hakeke St Community Centre and Hakeke library hub, made a submission to the Whanganui District Council's annual plan on behalf of that hub and the one in Castlecliff's Rangiora St. Both opened last year.
The Hakeke St hub in Whanganui East is run by volunteers and has at least 600 people through the door each month, she said. There are costs to running it, including rent, insurance, power and consumables.
Covid-19 has made the grants and donations the centre relies on harder to come by. Bilderbeck said she had expected more ongoing help from the council and the Whanganui District Library.
The council's budget allows $50,000 a year from 2018 to 2022 for library hubs, with the aim of improving service levels. The existing hub operators said they understood it is unlikely that another library hub will be set up in the 2020-21 rating year. They are asking for some of the $50,000 budgeted this year to keep them going.
"The only issue I have is the sustainability of it. Our focus is on making sure that this doesn't fall over," Bilderbeck said.
Some of the money could also be used for a study of the hubs' impact and the steps needed to ensure their sustainability.
The library hubs align well with the council's leading edge strategy, Bilderbeck said. At Hakeke St adults have used the hub to embark on new study and start study groups.
Volunteers who are new immigrants use their time there to practice speaking English, and being there makes them feel part of the community. Some have set up a regular mahjong group, others teach Pasifika dancing.
The Whanganui District Health Board holds whanau information sessions at the hub.
Both hubs operate in "vulnerable communities", Bilderbeck said. They act as co-ordinators of welfare.
"We are asking you to believe in that and partner with us," she told councillors.
The hubs would like to extend their services, perhaps providing a place where people could pay their rates, or providing access to office equipment and study resources.