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Thousands flooding into libraries

“Masses” of people are flocking to Hastings District libraries, and that has the staff grinning broadly.

By mid-July the number of people who had visited the Hastings Library had reached almost 20,000, with 31,000 visitors being an average July.

On one day last week Flaxmere Library had 1100 people use the library, up from an average 700 on a school holiday weekday.

Havelock North Library is steady, with numbers tracking last year’s totals.

The big drawcards are the school library programmes and the recently introduced free internet and wifi, says Hastings District Council libraries manager Paula Murdoch.

Another contributing factor is the new weekday closing time, 6pm at all libraries, she says.

The free internet access, which came into effect from early July has proved extremely popular, with over a thousand tickets to use library computers given out in the almost three weeks since the initiative began. A ticket gives a user one hour of access.

The libraries also have free wifi access which users can hook their own device in to, again on a ticket system which gives people an hour per day. Around 25 per cent of the full year’s tickets under the previous paid system have already been handed out in July.

Parents are rediscovering the libraries and making the most of the programmes on offer, especially over these winter holidays, says Mrs Murdoch.

“Library staff always put real effort into coming up with programmes that the kids will love; but really the parents and the staff have just as much fun.

“These holidays we’ve had create your own Lego costume, with about 100 kids and 50 adults in a two hour session, preschool story times, which bring in about 60 kids and 30 adults, and a Minecraft session, with about 35 kids.

“Flaxmere is really pumping; last Monday we had at least 50 children and 10 adults in the library at a holiday programme. That’s a huge number for the space we have out there, but it’s great.”

The latest computer game craze, Pokemon Go, has also caused a flurry of activity at the libraries with all three sites being Pokestops. A Pop Up Poke meet was also held at the Hastings Library on Monday afternoon.

Mrs Murdoch says the huge success can cause a bit of a headache, especially during the school holidays, for users who appreciate a bit of quiet at the library or who don’t want to be surrounded by such busy-ness. “But there are still quiet times, particularly before 10am, and again after 5pm. We finding the new closing time of 6pm at all the libraries is proving popular for those who want to use the libraries without the crowds or the queues.” 

4 October 2017

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