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Library expands children's area

An expanded HB Williams Memorial Library is being rearranged to bring together physical and digital learning worlds, so it’s a third place to go after work and home.

Community concern that there has been a reduction of books on the shelves is all part of this rearrangement.

Some collections are now located upstairs. This allows more space to expand one of the most used areas of our library - the children's area.

Cultural Activities manager Pene Walsh says when settling into a new public building it can take time to establish how our people use the resources and spaces.

“Spaces need to be more flexible and to keep the collection at a peak rate that is easy to browse for readers, about 65 - 75,000 books. Hardcopies have made way for digital versions, which are constantly updated.”

Ms Walsh says since the 2018 reopening, catchup work has been completed.  Shelves will move into different positions, and there's a public research centre upstairs.

New directional signposting will also be installed once everything is in place.

“One thing is for certain change is constant as we focus on community recovery, digital services, being ready for predicted social demands and preserving local history for all.”

For the year ended June 30, 2021, there were more than 190,000 digital visits made to our databases, online heritage collections and to download podcasts, audio and e-books.

Our extensive digital collection is a library without walls where people can grow their lifelong learning from their devices in the comfort of their own home, or when out walking or driving.

Ms Walsh says our library is a space for all ages, from all walks of life.

“People meet to learn digital skills, manage small businesses, research whakapapa or learn how to skype the grandchildren overseas.

“People can join a writing group, and parents and babies can meet to read or sing along together.”

Library staff maintain the collection of books and follow standard practice of 7000 books in, and 7000 books out each year. This makes sure collections are relevant, accurate and of a high quality for our community.

Ms Walsh says books of local relevance are kept forever.

“Despite predictions of the death of the book, our library shows books are still browsed, read and borrowed alongside a digital library and one-on-one digital support, our meeting rooms are used for gatherings, lectures, and programmes for teens and young children.”

The $100,000 gifted by the HB Williams Memorial Library Book Trust to support the collection bought books that were on the shelves in time for the reopening in 2018.  Council is grateful to the Trust who have committed $20,000 a year for the next 10 years to buy library materials – this year the focus is on large print materials.

“Our staff are also working on digitising the last of the early newspapers of the region and the 1990s colour version of the Gisborne Photo News. “