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Elderly boost library numbers


23 July 2001

Elderly boost library numbers

A good book is high on the agenda of many older people, but the book may be one they listen to rather than read.

A report to the Community Development Committee of the Auckland City Council, says that since 1999, library membership amongst older people has increased by five percent - and talking books are a reason for the growth.

As of June, there were 11,755 active members of the city’s various libraries, representing one in three people resident in Auckland City aged over 65, up from 1999 when one in four in the age group were members.

Auckland City Libraries staff say a new direction for the mobile library service has contributed to the increase in elderly members.

In February, the library changed its timetable to target people living at 51 retirement villages and pensioner housing sites enabling 3,142 older people to have access to a library service, more-or-less, at their own front door.

On average, between 180-200 people are visiting the mobile library weekly for books to read or listen to, indicating that six percent of the target audience is using the re-modeled service every week.

The chairperson of the Community Development Committee, Councillor Penny Sefuiva, said the increase in older people using libraries was encouraging.

“Older people are realizing the range of opportunities available to them at their local libraries including books published in large print and as sound recordings,” she said.

It’s wonderful that those who would have difficulty in getting to their local library are having equal access to the same opportunities through the mobile library.”

She said It is a measure of the success of the new mobile library strategy that the one mobile library currently in service is getting the same total number of visitors each week as previously served by two buses.

Councillor Sefuiva said Auckland City Libraries also had a significant out-reach to the Polynesian community when it had a stand at the recent Pasifika festival. More than 2000 people sought advice on using the library as a resource and 114 new members were enrolled.

“The objectives for this exercise were for the library to establish links with the Pacific Island community with a longer-term view of developing a stronger relationship and, secondly, to sign up new members and both of these objectives were achieved.”

Councillor Sefuiva said there was increasing interest in a new initiative in Mt Wellington and Glen Innes libraries, where Government funding is helping set up study centres after school.

“Although the projects are not fully established there is already a substantial increase in library use by children and their parents as a result of initial liaison with schools and the local community centres,” said Councillor Sefuiva.

She said another exercise in taking the library into the community was a successful Race Unity Day at the Mt Roskill Community Library where people from different races within the community read stories to children in the library.

“It is important that children in all our communities feel comfortable using our libraries as it is - for many of them - their major opportunity to access knowledge and learning resources.”


For further information, please contact:

- Councillor Penny Sefuiva, tel: 360 2711 or 397 7576.

- John Garraway, Auckland City Libraries, tel: 307 7735.

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