Claim up to 80% not using libraries

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is embarking on a review of its library services and one of the ''big challenges'' for the district, the council's chief executive claims, is that 80% of people do not use or regularly use the seven libraries.

The council's chief executive Adam Feeley yesterday told the Otago Daily Times around ''80% of people across the district don't use the library or don't regularly use the library'' which is ''a big chunk of the community''.

Seven libraries - in Queenstown, Wanaka, Hawea, Makarora, Kingston and Glenorchy and Arrowtown - are available to people in the district.

The council's general manager of operations, Ruth Stokes, said a ''suitably qualified independent consultant'' would be appointed to lead the review.

Mr Feeley's claim was despite protests of up to 150 people in Wanaka objecting to the proposed cuts to library staff as a result of the council's organisational review and the now named Wanaka Public Libraries Association collecting nearly 2000 signatures in opposition to the cuts.

When asked whether the library review, which was announced yesterday, was planned, Mr Feeley said: ''I think it's fair to say that it was very obvious through the organisational review that there was a depth of feeling around the libraries that probably wasn't replicated for people's views, for example, on sewage or roads''.

Yet one of the ''big challenges'' for the Queenstown Lakes District was finding out why the libraries were not of value to some people.

''There is obviously a big part of the community not using it and I think that's as important to understand what might make them use it as to understand what current users might think of the library, as well.''

The organisational review, which was undertaken earlier this year by an independent team, also reviewed library services and proposed libraries become one-stop shops where residents could access a range of council services.

Mr Feeley said the organisational review and the newly announced library review are ''fundamentally different''.

''The organisational review that we conducted was fundamentally about matching current resources to current demands and, once we'd gone through that exercise, producing a structure which best supported that.''

The library review would encompass what a modern library was, what people in the Queenstown Lakes District wanted in their libraries and what the cost of doing that would be.

He said given the level of interest with ''some parts of the community'' about libraries, it would be counterproductive to put out proposals about what the future of Queenstown Lakes libraries could look like.

The Wanaka Public Libraries Association is conducting its own survey about people's use of and satisfaction with the Wanaka-ward libraries.

Mr Feeley said he was unaware of the survey but was certain the group would be vocal in sharing the results.

Chairwoman for the libraries association Nicola Martinovich said the group would be responding to the council's request for feedback and she disagreed with the 80% figure.

''If this review is done correctly by correct people then they should get the correct information out of it.''


The library

The library will go the way of the post-box, the phone-booth,and all the other "used to use that" facilities, thanks to the all encompassing internet. Last time I went to the library I noticed hordes of children. Lots, I expect, sent there for an outing by parents. There were people using the building as a warm refuge, and I did hear a couple say that it was better than being bored at home.

Libraries are complicated, socially

Correct, Challispoint, "you could give every adult in Dunedin an ebook for the cost of building a new library in South Dunedin" but would the result be good value for money?

One of the mind-widening things libraries provide is the unexpected.  Want to find out more about White Island and its pattern (or lack) of eruptions?  On the way to the relevant section think how many other books the seekers passes, how many take their eye - on topics they hadn't  thought of, but this book looks interesting.  And so does this one,  and another person says "I read that, it's brilliant and he's such a clear writer he makes it all easy to understand without being patronising." 
Online recommendations are all very well but when you're talking to someone you get an idea of the "cut of their jib" - are their preferences likely to be like yours?  When you can't quite find the words for a complicated topic you don't know much about - yet -  a librarian can pick up your body language, check if the first suggestion hits the spot, if not try something else. 
Not only books but periodicals, DVDs and CDs too - the librarian and sometimes other library users share information, share interests, recommend or say "no, I reckon that one's a dud".
You can take an ebook to a cafe after you've been to the library but it won't be as much fun as going with someone, an old or new friend, you encountered in the library.

Just like banks

Kris - I think you are right to compare libraries to banks.   I do banking activities a few times a week but haven't been to an actual bank in over a year.

Just as I used to go to the library every Friday night, but haven't been to the physical library in over a year.   I have an ebook and a tablet and use those for  reading - just as I use my PC and Smartphone to access info which I once would have got from my library.

I think it is time for some visionary thinking, rather than just doing what we have always done.   For example, you could give every adult in Dunedin an ebook for the cost of building a new library in South Dunedin.    And before you talk about older people needing real books - I think I am now officially elderly!   

80% of community not using libraries!

Could you have not asked where he got this figure? Libraries around the country are filling up with people using the internet, wonderful book resources, newspapers, reading and meeting space. Why should Queenstown Lakes be any different to the rest of the country?

Not interested

John, Perhaps its fine for you to pop down to your local library, park right outside, and spend 3-4 hours meandering around. In Dunedin, where you will have also recently read that the library is struggling, you spend an age trying to find a park and then get clobbered $1 for every 20 mins. Might be more than that now. That really makes me want to go spend a quiet arvo in the library. Not.

We also have a book bus here which stops outside the neighbors house for an hour, once a week. I dont go to that either. I have purchased close to 20 books this year. Doesn't take too long to find what you want cheaply on Trademe or Ebay. I'm pretty internet saavy and could have downloaded many for free, but in most cases, i prefer to have my own hard copy.

Give it a few more years, for more of the elderly, many who have no idea about computers, to pass on and watch the numbers get worse. Mark my words. [Abridged]


Libraries can always evolve

We get caught up in the minutae of the digital world which is really just another format of reading and garnering of information and knowlege.  So following this line of logic a library could well become docking stations for computers or rental for books to download on reading nooks or ipads or rentals of movies.

The library is a community asset where people do and can meet up. It is a valuable source, just like our new rugby stadium.

There are myriad uses that libraries can fulfil - all it needs is a few forward thinking people to redo the library as we have redone the way we bank etc.  

Time for a visit?

Speadfreak43, I see from another post that you think libraries should be closed and the internet can answer any query.

I would suggest that perhaps you should visit a library again just as a new experience you might be surprised. A lot has changed in 40 years. The Wanaka Library has lots of local information especially local research on Maori history that you will not find on the internet - at least not yet.

As a heavy internet user myself I still see a place for Libraries as a source of knowledge, assisted research and social interaction. 

The 20% usage figure in Wanaka cannot be correct. 199,333 book loaned in the year to June, a very generous 1800 people being 20% of Wanaka population gives each person 110 books each per year. This number of loans in a small community would hardly suggest that the Library is dying.

Another way of putting it

Another way of putting it - more positively - is that something like 20% of people regularly use the library (and others occassionally do).  Thats a lot of people - something like 6000.  

Wanaka Public Libraries Association survey

Can visitors from out of town (ie. Dunedin) fill in a survey form (or online form?) I use the Wanaka Library when I'm there on holiday, as I'm sure others do.

I doubt the figures are wrong

John, libraries have been in decline since the invention of the internet. I would state that in the not too distant future, many will close. Speaking solely for myself, its been 40 years since i last visited one.

An Open Mind?

I would be interested to know the basis of our council CEO's figures that up to 80% of the community don't use the Libraries. I hope it's not solely based on the number of users borrowing books, as clearly the libraries are used for research and other community activities that would not be caputured by that method.

The fact that people do not use the Library "regularly" is also a strange comment to make. Libraries are a background community resource that people use when they have a need. Some people are regular readers/researchers, others only when a particular book or research topic arises. Furthermore just because someone does not use the Library regularly or even at all all does not mean that they think it is of no value. I suspect that up to 80% of residents don't "regularly" use our sports facilities either.

There is clearly stong support in the Wanaka Community for our Library as evidenced by 150 people at the protest, large turnouts at council meetings and a 2000 signature petition. Pretty impressive for a community of 6000. These are not just the "usual suspects"  who may have opinions on many issues, but a broad cross section of our community including many "establishment" figures.

In view of all the above you would think that a person with an open mind would say "hang on maybe we have got this wrong, let's look at it again", but no the council have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing a proper review of the service, and the CEO continues to label supporters as "some parts of the community" in a divisive manner.