It has been operating for only a few months but already the Hakeke St Library has had to extend its opening hours.
From May 17 the Thursday and Friday hours are from 9am to 4.30pm. Monday and Tuesday remain 9am to 1pm. Four hundred people used the library in April.

The library is in one of the former railway buildings previously occupied by UCOL. Always staffed by two volunteers, the library has one large main room, with bookshelves, tables, chairs and computers.
It's a joint effort by Whanganui District Library and the Whanganui Advocacy and Support Trust (WAST).

It is more than just a library, says Jane Bilderbeck, administrator of the library and WAST.
"Elderly people come here for the company," she says. "Our volunteers form relationships with the elderly."
Sometimes they'll make the visitor a coffee and have a chat.
"They've got the time to sit and talk, and that keeps these people coming back."

That's where it becomes an advocacy and support centre. She says it's also about finding out what the community wants. For example, it has been suggested that a JP be at the library for a couple of hours once a month.
"Whanganui East is isolated and it costs time and money to go over the bridge, so if we can offer everything here ... "


It was the aim of Marie and Brendon Butterini of WAST to create a community centre in their Whanganui East buildings. The library was a bonus and a handy excuse for people to visit.
"This fitted nicely with our kaupapa of encouraging learning, encouraging families. Along with the library we've created craft groups, a book club, we're planning on young mums' groups, we're having a Pink Ribbon high tea here on May 30 at 1pm. Everything we wanted to do fitted in with the library. Our volunteers are amazing, and without them we would not have this place. They are the ones forming relationships, showing people how to use the self-service and joining them up with the library."

The centre is partnered with the YMCA's Alternative Education, also in Hakeke St.
"All those kids have library cards now.
"We have the Dominion Post and Whanganui Chronicle delivered daily and everything you see — the books, the internet — is supplied by the District Library. We've been working with Sonny Tamihana of the library and he has made everything very easy."

The book club starts on May 27 at 10am. Everyone is welcome.
"Because it's new, these people can have a hand in shaping it."

The library will also display and sell art by local artists. This initiative is volunteer-led.
"We also sell things from here to help keep us buoyant, like Penguin book bags, knitted booties, bits and pieces, all donated."

On May 8, Gonville Knitters are helping start a craft group. Story Time for mothers and babies started last Friday and the library is also providing Spark Jump, pre-paid internet for families with children under 18. Cost is $10 for 30Gb. Families need their own devices and it is free to sign up.

The library also has Hell Pizza wheels — when a child (5-13) takes and reads a book his wheel is marked, slice by slice, until after 7 "slices" he can redeem the wheel for a free kid's pizza.
Details are on the Facebook change but Jane can be contacted on 022 689 2459.