We’re reading a lot less

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New library statistics show the Wakatipu lagging way behind Wanaka in the reading stakes.

Queenstown Library transactions have dropped 23 per cent to 128,689 between June 2003 and June this year.
Arrowtown figures slipped just three per cent in the same period to 45,176.

But issues and renewals at Wanaka Library grew 42 per cent over the five years.

Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago library services manager Adele Hewlett says the figures reflect changing facilities: “Wanaka has gone through growth in the past five years with getting a new library.

“Queenstown did the same when it first opened – issues went up 40 per cent in the first year. Now they’ve plateaued.”

If she has her way, Wakatipu libraries are in for an overhaul.

Hewlett has a proposal going to Queenstown Lakes District Council later this year – for a library refurbishment and a Frankton branch.

Frankton’s Kirsten Anderson, 48, would welcome a closer branch: “[Frankton] is where a lot of the families are now. I use the library because my work’s in here but if I didn’t have to [come into town] I wouldn’t.”

Hewlett says Queenstown’s “transient nature” may impact on loans but, more importantly, the stats don’t record people who use the library without borrowing.

One such person is English student Jergenie Renzova, 25, in Queenstown for five weeks. She studies in the library but isn’t a member.

Census data shows the Waka­tipu’s population grew 71 per cent from 2001-2006, compared to Wanaka’s growth of 50 per cent.

Hewlett says rather than anecdotal evidence of elderly people moving away from Queenstown, elderly library patrons have been supportive.

She also says foreign guest workers and young families have boosted book loans.

Kelvin Heights resident Jackie Phillips brings her three children to Queenstown Library every third Saturday.

She’s surprised by the statistics: “There are always a load of schoolkids and a mixture of locals and foreigners reading or studying in the corner.”