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Changing with the times . . . Central Otago library leaders (from left) Alexandra Library assistant librarian Helen Rendall, Alexandra Library team leader Gaye Anderson and Central Otago District Council customer services and libraries manager Louise Fleck look forward to further strengthening Central Otago libraries with a range of initiatives. PHOTO: PAM JONES

PAM.JONES
@alliedpress.co.nz

Central Otago libraries are investigating community partnerships and hosting a series of initiatives as they strengthen their connection with the community and move with the times, library leaders say.

The ideas included a determination to make libraries more accessible for older and housebound residents, Central Otago District Council customer services and libraries manager Louise Fleck said.

A service getting books to housebound residents already existed, but it would be highlighted and expanded to other areas such as Cromwell, Alexandra Library assistant librarian Helen Rendall said.

Other ideas were also being explored and put in place, including a new “Yarn 2gether” group which epitomised the “inspire, connect and captivate” goal of the libraries.

People in the craft group gathered weekly for a knitting and crochet session in the library, sharing ideas, meeting new people and finding out about other services the library provided, Alexandra Library team leader Gaye Anderson said.

She said the group was popular, as was a new “Lego club” held for young people twice weekly.

Recent family history events and a Matariki event at the library had also been well supported, and reinforced the role of a library as a community hub.

Council corporate services manager Bernard Murphy said during a recent presentation of a report from Mrs Fleck to the CODC that the library team had done “some exciting things” in the past 12 months, “mainly around connection with the community .. The days of just having books on the shelves are gone. There needs to be a connection”.

Council chief executive Sanchia Jacobs said during the same presentation that libraries were also an “important interface” between council and community, and library staff were proactive in providing information about council and/or community events to library users.

Mrs Fleck said it had been her goal since starting her role a year ago to “challenge the status quo” and encourage and act on new ideas from library staff and members of the public.

This included expanding library initiatives and events to smaller districts such as Roxburgh and Ranfurly.

A partnership with Age Concern was also being explored, to try to increase the reach of the library into the older community, Mrs Fleck said.

And while e-book issues continued to rise, “traditional” books were still in favour, she said.

“Book issues dipped with the advent of e-books, but now they have plateaued, and book issues are steady. E-books don’t seem to be replacing what our traditional libraries are.”