The new Taituarā ‘Living Libraries’ report has found New Zealand’s public libraries contribute massively to people’s feeling of happiness and wellbeing, and help them feel connected to their community in many practical ways.

Read the 'Living Libraries' report

Almost half of respondents also said public libraries helped them be more mindful of environmental issues and had improved their literacy and digital skills.

A third said libraries supported their use of te reo Māori.

The 'Living Libraries' report, produced by Kate Macnaught and Katherine Davies, stems from a COVID-19 initiative funded by the National Library of New Zealand Partnership Programme (NLPP).

This resulted in a joint Taituarā and Public Libraries New Zealand (PLNZ) project entitled Public Libraries CoCre8 Wellbeing.

The goals were to:

  • Determine the value proposition libraries provide to their communities in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Share best practice examples to illustrate the value public libraries provide to their communities.
  • Improve the quality of data produced by public libraries to provide an evidence-based proposition to their councils.

“The 'Living Libraries' report proves categorically that public libraries deliver on many of local government’s objectives around supporting local communities to thrive” said Taituarā Chief Executive Karen Thomas.

“Councils now have a very strong case for continuing to invest in their libraries and we sincerely hope they do so, and act on the report’s recommendations.”

The report made nine main recommendations to councils. Most revolve around better understanding the role public libraries play in local communities, recognising and celebrating their value, and doing more to support libraries to add even more value to their services.

Ms Thomas said the purpose of local government is to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of communities.

“The 'Living Libraries' report shows public libraries are an important asset in helping councils achieve that goal.”