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