Libraries ‘well-used’, hours change

Gore District Council library manager Emma Sherie. PHOTO: FILE
Gore District Council library manager Emma Sherie. PHOTO: FILE
Gore District libraries are being well-used by residents, library manager Emma Sherie says.

Mrs Sherie presented a report at the council’s community and wellbeing committee last week.

In the report Mrs Sherie said at any given time there can be between 6000 and 12,000 books issued from the Gore and Mataura libraries.

"That’s a lot of people in our community reading."

Speaking to the report, Mrs Sherie said in the past year the Gore library had received 65,755 visits, which was an increase of 34%.

Issues were up 38%.

There had also been a 117% increase in the use of Wi-Fi and 70% increase in computer use.

"I think that points to the fact our community still suffers from the digital divide and the importance that the library fills for that need."

Library staff had hosted 184 events, which was an increase of 116%.

"Attendance to those events increased by 61%."

While the Mataura library had been closing earlier, usage had not dropped off much, Mrs Sherie said.

In March of this year, the library changed its closing time to 2.30pm, due to escalating anti-social behaviour by young people.

Groups were loitering after school in the building and outside to use the free Wi-Fi.

The council was concerned about the safety of its two Mataura librarians, who work alone most of the time, and customers.

She was pleased to announce the council was going to trial new opening hours at the Mataura Library and Service Centre.

From July 15 the library would be open from 10am to 4pm.

Wi-Fi would be turned off at the library from 3pm to 5pm, Mrs Sherie said.

Turning off the Wi-Fi had been good for the business owners she had talked to.

"They’ve had less youth problems to deal with."

Customers will still be able to come in and use the computers from 3pm to 4pm.

About 9000 people had used the Mataura library which was a decrease of 5%.

Wi-Fi use was also up in the library.

"The Wi-Fi and computers are absolutely essential for that community."

During the discussion Cr Neville Phillips said he believed extending the opening hours of the Mataura library was a good compromise.

Cr Bronwyn Reid said numbers do not "lie".

"The increase overall is really amazing in this day and age, when we all bemoan the fact that everybody’s on social media or on their phones."

Gore District Mayor Ben Bell said it would have been easy to have shut the Mataura library or trespassed those causing trouble.

"That would have been a quick and simple fix but it would have harmed the community."

To have more than 65,000 visits to the Gore library each year equated to each resident visiting five times, Mr Bell said.

"When you think about it like that, it’s a very well utilised asset.

"Definitely something to keep on our minds in the long-term plan process."