Events are a major area of growth for libraries and librarians are now defacto event planners, in amongst their other responsibilities. In the 2017-2018 year, more than 1.2 million Kiwis attended events and programmes at libraries including book readings, author Q and As, movement classes for the elderly, computer tuition, dance and puppet-making classes, school holiday programmes and expert panels on climate change.
It’s true that people are borrowing fewer items from libraries than in years past. While there were more than 43 million books and digital items borrowed from New Zealand libraries in 2014-15, that dropped to well below 42 million in 2017-18 (from 43,154,999 to 41,882,287, to be exact).
However, at the same time, more people engaged with their local library. The number of “active borrowers” rose from 1,376,600 people in 2014-15 to 1,410,125 in 2017-18. Even those people who don’t use or need it, want their local library to be there, says [Kat] Cuttriss [Hutt City Libraries Manager and Chair of Public Libraries of New Zealand]. “They still want it to exist as a vital civic centre.”