Giselle Steiner, of Dunedin, looks at a book at Dunedin
City Library. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Visits and issues at most Otago libraries are declining
as readers shift from printed to electronic material.
Dunedin City Council library services manager Bernie Hawke
said Dunedin's public libraries were visited 7.5% fewer times
(1,119,008 to 1,034,638) and had 5.1% fewer items loaned
(1,639,839 to 1,555,617) between 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Total loans included downloads of electronic books, audio,
music, videos and journals available online.
The downward trends were not unique to Dunedin and were
evident at libraries nationwide because people were
downloading more library items, resulting in a decline in
library issues and visits, Mr Hawke said.
The council had embraced the change and had recently
introduced an electronic book collection of about 1600 titles
to the catalogue.
''Rather than fighting that trend of electronic usage, we are
actually supporting it and we are encouraging people to
borrow electronic materials and we are redirecting some
resource away from what we would have otherwise spent on
printed books to downloadable content and that trend will
increase over time,'' Mr Hawke said.
The decrease in physical borrowing would not mean fewer staff
were needed, he said.
Clutha District Council spokesman Jamie Shaw said the
district's public libraries had 8.7% fewer items loaned
(172,636 to 157,425) and 9% fewer visits (88,918 to 80,914).
The council was not concerned about the downward trends and
it had not investigated changing any policies or levels of
service at the libraries.
''While there are trends for more information being available
online, many of our rural communities do not yet have
reasonable access to broadband.
''Therefore, for rural communities such as ours, libraries
are expected to remain focal points for the community for
longer than they might in larger areas.''
The Clutha District Council libraries, with the exception of
the Balclutha Library, were in the same building as council
service centres, which allowed the council to maintain the
library service ''at little extra cost''.
Waitaki District Council libraries manager Philip van Zijl
said although there were nearly 10% fewer visits to the
Oamaru, Palmerston, Hampden. Kurow, Otematata and Omarama
libraries, there were 1% more issues.
The number of electronic book downloads at the libraries had
''grown phenomenally'', Mr van Zijl said.
Central Otago District Council community services manager
Anne Pullar said the fewer number of issues at the Central
Otago libraries could be because of electronic books, which
had been available since last year.