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Changing spaces ... Oamaru Public Library manager Philip van Zijl with the planned new layout of the library, which will be closed from March 1 to 27. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

A new layout and the introduction of new technology at the Oamaru Public Library is customer-focused, library manager Philip van Zijl says.
The library will be closed from March 1 to 27 to make way for the installation of technology, such as stations that allow customers to issue their own books, and a new fit-out to create spaces that meet the changing needs of the community.
Its space is considered outdated and the library is not using the space available to its full potential.
“It’s not about technology. The main focus of the automation is customer service,” Mr van Zijl said.
“It’s about having the quality time available to engage with people and it gives us the opportunity as staff to do that.”
He said the new layout was “aesthetically pleasing and functional”, more practical and would cater for the various uses people expected from a modern library.
“The layout is not ideal for a 40-year-old footprint, but it’s attempting to separate user groups like tourists, youth, older people, people wanting to do research and people wanting to learn … we’ve created something exciting.”
An office is to be converted into a teaching and multipurpose space, accessible from the library, which will allow people to read a book or newspaper, conduct job interviews, or hold small meetings.
As technology has changed, so had the function of the traditional library.
Mr van Zijl said a lot of time and resources had gone into staff training.
“It’s essential for our library to be a place where people can come to for a range of different services. We currently have a gap in what we can offer and what we need to offer, so this new fit-out will address that gap.
“We must maximise the use of our current space and be more efficient and responsive to the changing demographics and needs of our community, especially around technology.
“We are increasingly being asked to provide digital support to people … who either do not have the skills or technology at home. We are working with other community groups to help provide this type of help but our project is much greater than simply providing digital assistance.”
The library’s 65,000 books are being tagged with radio frequency identification tags, which Mr van Zijl said would benefit both customers and staff.
“The benefits are twofold. It will create an automated service for our customers when borrowing and returning books and will also free up staff to have more interaction with customers and to focus on other, more important customer-related inquiries.”
In total, the project will cost $160,000 and will not impact on ratepayers.
Mr van Zijl said it had been funded through a Waitaki District Council loan, which would be paid back through savings made with the additional of RFID technology.
The library’s free Wi-Fi will be available throughout the closure.