Libraries could become community hubs to stay relevant - report

A report has found libraries have 'untapped potential' to provide their communities with more than just books.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) wants to see libraries diversify to be community hubs servicing readers and ratepayers. And some places have already adapted.

At Auckland's Takanini Library, gone are the days where it's all about books.

"This place is focused on people," said Morehu Roberts Tuahine.

Of course there are books. But there's also a children's slide, table tennis, performance spaces and a shared kitchen. It truly is a community hub.

"We have all sorts going on at the hub from all types of cultures as well. We have things like Chinese calligraphy, we also have a lot of health kaupapa that happen here," said Tuahine.

After conducting a report into the future of libraries, LGNZ wants to see models like this rolled out across the country.

"There's so much more potential in libraries... and they could be really one-stop shops," said LGNZ CEO Susan Freeman-Greene.

That potential is endless. LGNZ believes libraries can host services including healthcare, financial support, education - all sorts of support.

"There's no blueprint, right, so councils, communities and libraries can work out what they want to do," Freeman-Greene said.

The only barrier right now is funding. It wants local and central governments to partner up on costs because those areas that've already adapted can prove it's worth it. Like in Selwyn.

"Over 600 people a day come through, chill out, hang, learn and meet one another," said Selwyn Mayor Sam Broughton.

Broughton believes other smaller communities should follow suit, keeping libraries relevant and turning them into special places

"Having a local hub where people feel safe and want to go to is an important part of small-town New Zealand," he said.

And will mean both libraries and communities can thrive.