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Love of learning . . . Alexandra Primary School pupils (from left) Max Cunliffe (8), Aquah-Blu Winata-Beazley (9) and Logan Sanders (8) look over some of COEC's literacy, STEM, maths and te reo Maori resources. The library is welcoming new members and is preparing to buy new resources for use by southern children. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/COEC

Asouthern resource library, believed to be the first in New Zealand, is to embark on a membership drive to increase the number of schools and students it assists.

The Central Otago Education Centre (COEC), in Alexandra, operates as a resource library for schools around the country and is keen to welcome more members on board.

It was established and formerly run by the University of Otago to provide resources that schools needed for themed and topic study term by term.

The not-for-profit organisation was taken over by the Alexandra Primary School Charitable Trust almost 10 years ago, and still services 70 schools with thousands of pupils around the South Island, primarily in Otago and Southland, including all of the primary schools in Central Otago.

It is keen to welcome more member schools, including secondary schools and early childhood centres, and also people interested in trialling memberships for home-based early childhood educators.

COEC holds thousands of items including books and other literacy resources, practical STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) kits, audio resources, puzzles, te reo Maori resources, art and music resources, and emotional literacy and sustainability resources.

It is funded entirely by membership subscriptions and has also gained assistance through various grants over the years to purchase new resources.

COEC is preparing new grant applications for new resources, and will also have an ‘‘open fortnight’’ during the next school holidays for anyone wishing to look around.

Alexandra Primary School Charitable Trust trustee Mike Olsen said COEC was a ‘‘unique’’ facility believed to be the only library of its type in New Zealand.

Central Otago and Lakes district teachers said COEC was an invaluable resource that local teachers were lucky to have on their doorstep.

Terrace Primary School teacher Mick Enright said COEC was a ‘‘fantastic resource of ‘hands on’ in a digital world’’.

‘‘COEC has always been part of the local education fabric. The value of its resources cannot be underestimated,’’ Mr Enright said.

Mount Aspiring College teacher Tiffany Kemp said COEC was a ‘‘major asset’’ for educators and was the school’s ‘‘first stop’’ when seeking resources.

‘‘We desperately need this resource available for our community,’’ Mrs Kemp said.

St Gerard’s School teacher Anne Earland said COEC was ‘‘invaluable’’ and provided schools with resources they could not purchase with their existing budgets.

Anyone wishing to inquire about COEC can email coec@xtra.co.nz or phone 027 4445370.