Popular . . . Children line up with their library books as part of the Omarama library's Surf into Summer reading programme. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A summer initiative encouraging children to read went so well the library almost ran out of books.

Omarama Community Library ran a Surf into Summer reading programme before Christmas to keep children reading over the holidays.

Waitaki District Libraries initiated the programme and asked if the community library wanted to be involved.

When signing up, children were asked their age and what kind of books they liked to read.

Volunteers then compiled a bag of books to suit each child, as well as colouring pencils, stickers, word quizzes and a bookmark.

‘‘There were six books from the library that needed to be returned and one book that they could keep,’’ library volunteer Georgie Robertson said.

Two young girls finished reading all their books before Christmas and visited the library to get more.

‘‘To me, that’s what it’s all about.’’

Ms Robertson said the programme was so well received the library almost ran out of books and had to get some sent from Oamaru and Otematata.

About 55 children from Omarama School took part, which was huge, she said.

‘‘It was a fantastic initiative.’’

Since then, the school had continued to use the library and sent classes there regularly.
The library has become more popular since it moved into a bigger space in the Omarama community centre last year.

The old room was much smaller, darker and colder, so the library was shifted to a ‘‘lighter and brighter’’ space with the help of Waitaki District Libraries staff.

‘‘They’ve been absolutely wonderful to us,’’ Ms Robertson said.

‘‘We couldn’t do what we’ve been doing without their support.’’

Moving rooms had made a huge difference and attracted more people.

On average, between 50 and 80 people visited the library each month, which was an increase from previous years when sometimes no›one would visit.

Volunteers had also increased the opening hours from one hour on a Wednesday and Saturday to an hour and a›half each day.

‘‘Some days we’re there for two hours because people come and they want to chat.

‘‘It’s become a wee bit of a hub for people who come.’’