Libraries get national recognition for digital efforts

Clutha libraries digital programmes co-ordinator Dalene Breytenbach guides Lawrence residents...
Clutha libraries digital programmes co-ordinator Dalene Breytenbach guides Lawrence residents Joan Little (left) and Margaret Pearson in digital device usage at Lawrence Library. PHOTO: KELLIE POST/SUPPLIED
Clutha libraries’ dedication to digital is getting noticed in high places.

Library representatives from across New Zealand, involved in New Zealand Libraries Partnership Programme (NZLPP) initiatives during the past two years, took part in a Ministry of Internal Affairs presentation via Zoom recently.

During the presentation, held to celebrate achievements under the programme, Minister of Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti singled out Clutha libraries for their work improving "digital inclusion" for residents.

Ms Tinetti said she wanted to give special mention to Clutha for its work in the digital arena, and praised the work of staff in connecting with their communities through "sharing stories of love, loss, and worry".

National librarian Rachel Esson also commended Clutha for its progressive stance, acknowledging the team’s hard work in "hauling its libraries out of the ’90s".

Clutha District Council library-service centre manager Debbie Duncan said her team was "thrilled and proud" to receive the ministerial plaudit.

NZLPP had provided about $600,000 of funding during the past two years, which she described as "transformational".

"To have our work recognised at a national level has once again reflected the immense value of the mahi our library team has undertaken.

"It’s had a colossal impact on the way we work, and the way residents use our libraries."

Mrs Duncan said the funding had allowed the libraries to "scale up" their digital inclusion and train all staff to deliver future digital programmes.

Programmes under the initiative had included device training; assistance with email and websites; exploring new technologies such as virtual reality; and expanding the libraries’ range of digital devices and media.

"We’ve helped more than 3000 residents get their vaccine passports and countless others with Covid travel documents.

"We had one lady call in as she wanted to be able to livestream a funeral. She was given step-by-step instructions on how to access the stream at home and was able to share in that experience as a result.

"We’re establishing heritage digi-hubs for people to record and collate local history.

"And you can now also access over 500,000 e-books, 120,000 e-audio books, 7500 streaming movies/TV shows, and several subscription-only websites."

Libraries today had become one-stop shops for information and digital access, although print-and-paper books remained popular, she said.

"We still have over 55,000 books. The demand for fiction is strong."

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