People will ‘have to stick to their knitting’ until the Ashburton Public Library shifts into its new building.
At a recent council activity briefing, Deputy Mayor Liz McMillan was impressed to learn of the turn out to a knitting group held at the library, and councillors were interested to know what more the library can offer once it moves to the new library, Te Pātaka o kā Tuhituhi, later this year.
Library membership numbers are in decline, which council chief executive Hamish Riach put down to “a consequence of Covid”.
But he said it was only one measure of library usage, which is now much more than just books.
In her report at the briefing, library manager Jill Watson outlined an increase in usage by a variety of groups, something councillors saw as a growth opportunity with the increased space and opportunities in the new facility.
“More and more people are going to the library not just to get a book out, they are doing other activities,” McMillan said.
One that stuck out to councillors was 112 people attending nine sessions of a knitting circle held at the library.
With some groups and events proving more popular than others, the library is “reassessing as we go” before the move, Watson said.
“E-Sports is another thing that has a lot of youth interest but it’s probably something we can’t do until we get into the new building.”
What more can be offered at the library was being considered, but any review of the operating hours will wait until after the move.
Having attended two of the Tuesday councillor chat sessions in the library, councillor Tony Todd said few people seemed to enter the library after 6pm.
But he didn’t think a review of opening hours was necessary until the library is in its new space.
As it will feature more, and larger, meeting rooms, there may be more demand for groups to hold meetings in the evenings, Watson said.
“Until we get to the new building we won’t know exactly what shape that takes.”
- By Jonathan Leask