Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Libraries want boost in services for youth

Terenui Natua, 8, reads to his little brother Arani, 1, at the Tupu Youth Library, Flat Bush. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Terenui Natua, 8, reads to his little brother Arani, 1, at the Tupu Youth Library, Flat Bush. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Auckland public libraries want to boost services to children and young people, particularly in poor areas in the city's south and west.

The decision follows a report which found that people in lower socio-economic areas borrowed from libraries less than those in well-off areas did.

The gap in income equality was growing and libraries, which had a role of making information equally available to all, must take this into account in their planning, said regional libraries and information manager Allison Dobbie.

She told Auckland Council members that consultants Sue Sutherland and John Truesdale found gaps in customer service levels for young people, Maori and Pacific Island residents and those with disabilities.

Improved materials and services were also needed for non-European speakers, with residents from Asia driving Auckland's population growth.

Other needs were for staff who could speak languages other thanEnglish and improved facilities for heritage collections and services to rural residents.

A big upgrade of digital services was called for, particularly in poorer areas.

Libraries were under pressure because of population growth, said Ms Dobbie. They were too small and inflexible in design.

The increase in people living in the inner city brought high demand on the central library.

Ms Dobbie said the report's findings would shape the libraries' focus over the next five to 10 years.

South Auckland mother Nadia Natua said yesterday she was unaware of service gaps.

Her 8-year-old son, Terenui, was confidently getting around the shelves of the Tupu Youth Library, in Flat Bush, and now also the bigger Papakura Library.

During the school holiday reading programmes, Terenui borrowed five books in one day.

The family did not have a computer at home, but the children used the computer at the library to search for information and play games.

Ms Dobbie said the council's long-term budget approved last Wednesday meant a cut of 1 per cent in library spending, but that would be made up in efficiencies and would not affect the number of books available.

- NZ Herald

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