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Valuing the past . . . Debbie Price-Ewen is encouraging readers to learn more about North Otago by delving into history books that have been released at the Oamaru Public Library. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

Heritage librarian Debbie Price-Ewen is bubbling with excitement following the recent expansion of the local history section at the Oamaru Public Library.

Previously, a large number of local history books about North Otago had been stored away, out of the public view.

The old books have now been put into the limelight and readers are flocking to the local history section to borrow them.

“There’s a lot of rich content in these shelves – even I’ve been discovering the odd gem,” Mrs Price-Ewen said.

“We have a large number of genealogists using our resources.”

A separate reference collection at the library also contained first-edition books that were produced in the 1870s, about when Oamaru was being developed by European settlers, she said.

Other books in the collection had been produced in the 1920s.

The books were available for the public to read at the library, but could not be borrowed.

Helping people learn about their local histories was important for Mrs Price-Ewen.

“I think it is important to explain to people that this is a living collection, and that it is a part of their heritage.”

The library hoped to help further preserve the information in the books by eventually digitising them.

“We could showcase people’s histories.”

Many of the books included in the collection were biographies about families in the district.

Mrs Price-Ewen said the library was keen to expand its collection by getting content from local authors.

“We really want to see more of this local content coming.”