Digital services in high demand at New Zealand’s public libraries

New Zealanders are increasingly using digital library services such as computer and wi-fi internet access, eBooks, and audio books, while use of traditional services remains high. Recently released annual statistics on public library usage during 2011 and 2012 reveal this shift towards online services.

The number of library internet users increased from 5.7 million in 2011 to 6.7 million in 2012, and nearly 18.5 million wi-fi sessions were recorded last year. Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa (APNK) provides a wi-fi service in a number of public libraries with an average of 2,400 wi-fi sessions at APNK hotspots per day. The total data traffic is equivalent to the data allowance of over 5,200 of Telecom’s “Everyday” broadband packages.

“Library users increasingly expect their public libraries to provide internet access as well as digital items such as E-Books. Many jobs are only being advertised online now, even for lower paid positions. Libraries face continued demand for internet access and for supporting IT skills development, as well as an expanded range of digital content,” says Paula Murdoch, Public Libraries of New Zealand Chair.

Other striking trends in the statistics were dramatic increases in the uptake of digital items and services. While 17,116 EBooks were downloaded in 2011, that figure increased by over 700 percent to 138,865 in 2012, and the number of audio books downloaded went up by over 40 precent last year to 79,196. The number of reserves increased by over one million to 4,899,575 -probably due to increased reserves of eBooks.