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Learning Centres To Become Part Of All Libraries

19 April 2002

Learning centres catering to all age groups are to be introduced in libraries in Manukau City over the next three years. The City Council believes this expansion of the traditional role of libraries will have widespread social benefits, promote lifelong learning and contribute towards the development of a Knowledge Society.

The innovation will include the setting up of homework centres providing children with access to computer terminals as well as study space. The award-winning Tupu - Dawson Road library in Otara has already pioneered the concept successfully.

Library Learning Centre (LLCs) will expand the current range of services which use information technology and make them more flexible.

Chair of the community development committee, Councillor John Walker, says "Increasingly, people are turning to a computer screen rather than books to get their information and to communicate, and that will be a focus of the changes. Many groups in the city already look to their local library for training in basic IT.

"They're also looking for more sophisticated assistance with information literacy. We aim to meet that need and to keep pace with advances in technology. Pods of computer terminals located in special Learning Centre zones within the libraries will become the norm in future."

It is expected the likely users of LLCs will include SeniorNet participants, English language students, retraining adults, refugees, students of the University of the Third Age, teenagers and school children.

Manukau City Council is committed to promoting education in all its facets including lifelong learning for adults and improving educational achievement among young people. Many homes in Manukau do not contain quiet areas where students can study, and that impacts on their academic studies.

Research has found that homework centres are very beneficial as they improve self-esteem and educational results, with librarians helping through promotion of information-literacy skills.

John Walker says many people in Manukau don't have access to a computer at home or at work. "In future it will be essential for everyone to have computer skills and to be able to access the Internet and send email, for example.

"These new learning centres will help achieve one of the key goals for the city outlined in the "Tomorrow's Manukau" strategic plan - the development of an educated and knowledgeable people.

"It's just one way our libraries will change and we there'll be other innovations in coming years to provide the public with many more options.

"This is the start of a whole new ball game. Possibilities include entertainers giving performances, cafes on site and we will continually introduce new technology as it comes on stream. Our libraries will be multi-dimensional community centres and information sources - vibrant, modern and fun."


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