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Mobile library vans donated to Christchurch

Christchurch City Libraries is making history by taking books to areas where library services have been disrupted since the February 2011 earthquake.

Two specially equipped mobile library vans – the first of their kind in New Zealand - hit the road this week, bringing portable social, recreational and learning services to fill the gap left by the post-earthquake closure of Christchurch’s Bishopdale, Central, Linwood, South and Sumner libraries.

Rotary and the Cotton On Foundation have combined to donate the two vans, which cost $360,000 to modify and equip for the purpose. One of the vans has been funded by The Rotary Foundation, the other through a partnership between Rotary and the Cotton On Foundation the other. They are expected to be on the road for the next decade.

The vans are one of several community organisations to benefit from the more than $3 million Rotary has donated to community causes since February 2011. The money has been donated by Rotarians and Rotary clubs across many parts of the world.

In launching the vans Christchurch mayor Bob Parker put the efforts of the two donor organisations squarely in perspective.

“If it hadn’t been Rotary and the Cotton On Foundation, there’d be no vans, and many in our city would continue to have no library services.

“Libraries frequently take on a role as the heart of the community, and to have even one closed is a tangible loss. These vans are huge step towards reducing isolation in certain communities. Christchurch is hugely grateful to Rotary and Cotton On for this incredible gift.”

The donation of the vans was even more timely because the council’s mobile library bus had come to the end of its working life. Council research has shown that libraries are among the most used buildings in the city.

Each van is fully kitted out to deliver familiar library services such as books, magazines, DVDs, CDs and free wi-fi –A trailer is available to transport additional furniture and equipment for special events and programmes.

Carolyn Robertson, manager of the council’s libraries and information unit, says that because of its size, the mobile library bus had been unable to reach some parts of Christchurch because of its size. The smaller vans would be able to visit these places.

“These vans aren’t a stop-gap measure – they’re attractive, they’re novel, they’re stacked with features and we’re intending for them to have a long life. They’ll be new favourites for a lot of people.”


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