Waimakariri invests in libraries

While libraries around New Zealand are facing cuts, Waimakariri District Council is considering expanding the Trevor Inch Memorial Library in Rangiora and extending opening hours.

Staff are reviewing opening hours, including increasing Sunday hours, while the Kaiapoi, Rangiora and Oxford libraries are investing in new technologies.

Expansion plans are in the pipeline in Waimakariri District Council's 2024/34 Long Term Plan to support a growing population.

The council will be consulting on whether to build a second building alongside the existing Rangiora Library, earmarked for the 2027/28 financial year.

Community and recreation manager Chris Brown said a new single-storey, 1345sqm library building would cost $16.8 million.

A second option was constructing a two-storey building, with the library on the ground floor and office space for council staff upstairs, which would cost around $30m

‘‘We have council staff working in leased office spaces in the town, so we need to ask the community whether they prefer us to be supporting local businesses, or bringing our staff back into a council-owned building,’’ Mr Brown said.

Waimakariri District Libraries manager Paula Eskett said extending Sunday opening hours were first looked at pre-Covid.

At present the Rangiora and Kaiapoi libraries are open from 1pm to 4pm on Sundays.

‘‘Traditionally Sunday hours were set around church time, but community members are saying they want to be in there on Sunday mornings.’’

Rangiora Library has been trialling a new digital smart shelf. Photo: Supplied by Rangiora Library
Rangiora Library has been trialling a new digital smart shelf. Photo: Supplied by Rangiora Library
Staff were considering extending the weekday closing time from 5pm to 6pm, and dropping the weekly late night at 7pm.

The libraries have upgraded their self-issue kiosks to make issuing books simpler, with the new kiosks just like ‘‘supermarket self-checkouts’’.

The Rangiora Library is also trialling a new digital smart shelf, which instantly scans the books when they are returned.

New technologies are being explored to offer learning experiences.

The three libraries hosted the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s virtual reality experience, featuring Sir Edmund Hillary’s Antarctic hut, over the summer, with nearly 300 people visiting over six days.

‘‘With the virtual reality experience, we had people who were in their 70s and 90s, so we had grandparents and kids using it at the same time,’’ discovery and digital co-ordinator Ciaran Findlay said.

The library was increasing gaming and craft technologies (‘‘Makerspace’’) initiatives to provide social and learning opportunities, he said.

Mayor Dan Gordon said libraries are bustling with events, technology to explore, and spaces to work or relax, and connect with friends.

‘‘The best thing about the libraries is how well they cater for residents regardless of age or background.

‘‘Staff often see grandparents with their grandchildren, particularly in the school holidays and there is something to keep everyone amused and entertained.

‘‘This is something truly special and it’s worth the investment to ensure these connections continue to flourish.’’

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

  • LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.