Dra­matic fall in li­brary book check­outs

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JODI YEATS

A de­cline in desk check­outs is one of the driv­ers of an Auck­land li­braries over­haul, its busi­ness case shows.

In Oc­to­ber the Auck­land Coun­cil run or­gan­i­sa­tion an­nounced it was con­sult­ing with staff as it looked to re­al­lo­cate its re­sources to pre­pare for a dig­i­tally fo­cused fu­ture.

So far, 74 li­brary staff have taken vol­un­tary re­dun­dancy with its re­main­ing 955 staff are fac­ing ‘‘ma­jor changes’’, says the union rep­re­sent­ing staff the Public Ser­vice As­so­ci­a­tion.

Li­brar­i­ans will hear fi­nalised plans in the next few weeks.

Li­braries gen­eral man­ager Mirla Ed­mund­son said its ‘‘Fit for the Fu­ture’’ pro­gramme aims to keep com­mu­nity li­braries in step with changes in the ways peo­ple use li­braries.

The num­ber of items checked out has fallen from 14.6 mil­lion in the 2013 fi­nan­cial year to 14.2 mil­lion in the 2016 fi­nan­cial year, Auck­land Li­braries data shows.

There has been a de­cline in the num­ber of desk check­outs from 5.5 mil­lion in the 2013 fi­nan­cial year to 3.7 mil­lion in 2016 fi­nan­cial year.

Self check­outs re­mained fairly sta­ble around 9 mil­lion. How­ever, elec­tronic check­outs have risen from a measly 200,000 in the 2013 fi­nan­cial year to 1.5 mil­lion in the 2016 fi­nan­cial year.

‘‘While the num­ber of phys­i­cal trans­ac­tions within our li­braries has de­creased, we have seen that the de­mand for on­line and dig­i­tal ser­vices is grow­ing, re­flect­ing a global trend,’’ Ed­mund­son said.

‘‘Li­braries con­tinue to be vi­tal in­sti­tu­tions for life­long learn­ing and com­mu­nity con­nec­tion, re­gard­less of the form the in­for­ma­tion takes.’’

Ed­mund­son said li­braries will dif­fer­en­ti­ate in fu­ture, ac­cord­ing to the needs of their com­mu­nity.

The new Devon­port li­brary with in­ter­ac­tive sta­tions where cus­tomers can work with li­brar­i­ans was as an ex­am­ple of this.

‘‘It has be­come a com­mu­nity meet­ing place too, not sim­ply a book repos­i­tory.’’

The new Otahuhu li­brary was an­other ex­am­ple. It was a com­mu­nity hub that in­cluded a pool and re­cre­ation cen­tre, Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau, com­mu­nity meet­ing rooms and the li­brary.

Auck­land Coun­cil runs 55 li­braries in the re­gion em­ploy­ing about 1000 staff.

Ed­mund­son said there was no plan to close li­braries or re­duce open­ing hours.

JOHN HAWKINS/FAIR­FAX NZ

There num­ber of check­outs in li­braries was 5.5 mil­lion in 2012/13 but only 3.7 mil­lion in 2015/16.

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