News | 30 May 2020
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Library online numbers a turn-up for the books

With most libraries reopened in the capital now, the library boffins have been crunching the numbers during the Covid-19 Alert Levels, and found online services broke every record in the book.

Image of He Matapihi library due to reopen after Covid-19 lockdown closure

As the lockdown started in March, Wellington City Libraries welcomed over 1,110 new members, a 300% increase compared to 2019. 

The number of people using eResources remained high throughout, averaging 10,000 eBooks issued and 5,000 reserves per week. Audiobooks averaged over 5,000 issues and 2,000 reserves per week.

Compared to early March 2019 the average number of ebooks issued was around 6,000, with 1,800 reserves. Audiobooks for the same time last year sat around 3,000 issues and 1,000 reserves.

“With Miramar Library opening this week, and Island Bay and He Matapihi opening next Tuesday, all 14 branches will have reopened – but with Level 2 restrictions there is still a lot of online activity going on,” says Laurinda Thomas, Wellington City Council’s Libraries and Community Spaces Manager.

“We are not running any face-to-face group activities under Alert Level 2, and our hours are a bit different from normal, so check our website before you visit. In the meantime, we are streaming our popular programmes such as Storytimes and Baby Rock & Rhyme, live on Facebook from Mondays to Saturdays, and the recorded Storytimes are available on the Kids pages of our website.

“We are currently planning for Alert Level 1, and we’re hoping that will see the return of many of our much loved programmes like Baby Rock & Rhyme to our libraries.”

Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ was one of the most popular adult ebook and audio book over the past two months, and the Harry Potter series remained the most popular audiobook for children, including the foreign language editions – although Horrid Henry was taking over from Harry in the ebooks stakes.

Such high levels of engagement with our library services during lockdown is reassuring for Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons, Portfolio Leader for Libraries.

There has been a library in Wellington for over a hundred years and the record use by residents during the lockdown shows the huge value and trust Wellingtonians place in library services today. We are so lucky to have such committed staff running our city’s libraries.

“The libraries of 2020 are not just about books – it’s audio, visual, historic, futuristic, online, offline, and for public events. Now that our branches are reopening, they’re also demonstrating what an important public space they are for residents as well.”

To meet the required social distancing for staff and customers Wellington City Libraries have introduced a number of systems to adhere to the Alert Level 2 guidelines, says Mayor Andy Foster.

“We know everyone loves our libraries, but we ask visitors to limit their time to 30 minutes to let everyone have a chance to pop in while we’re still operating under Level 2 guidelines.

The Rippl app is in place too, so make sure you register through that or manually while we continue to use contact tracing systems for the health and safety of our staff and customers.”

Top 10 from Kanopy (April)

1                    Ex Libris

2                    The Dressmaker

3                    The Phone Call

4                    Carol

5                    Kedi

6                    Stash Short Film Festival: Comedy

7                    Bobbie the Bear

8                    The Trip to Spain

9                    Bauhaus: The Face of the 20th Century

10                 I Am Not Your Negro

Top 5 from Beamafilm (April)

1                    Catherine The Great

2                    Un Village Francais

3                    Book Club

4                    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

5                    The Name of The Rose

Top 10 Adult and Children ebooks and audio (April)



This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Blue Moon: Jack Reacher Series, Book 24 by Lee Child

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward Burger

The Alchemist  by Paulo Coelho

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know by Malcolm Gladwell

Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Miss Marple's Final Cases by Agatha Christie

The Testaments: The Handmaid's Tale Series, Book 2 by Margaret Atwood

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer




Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Harry Potter Series, Book 1

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Harry Potter Series, Book 1

Horrid Henry Robs the Bank

Harry Potter à L'école des Sorciers: Harry Potter Series, Book 1 (French)

Little Women: Little Women Series, Book 1

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Harry Potter Series, Book 2

Horrid Henry's Underpants

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Harry Potter Series, Book 3

Flunked: Fairy Tale Reform School Series, Book 1

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Harry Potter Series, Book 6

Guts: Smile Series, Book 3

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Harry Potter Series, Book 4

The Cupcake Club Series, Book 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Harry Potter Series, Book 7

Boy-Crazy Stacey: Baby-Sitters Club Graphix Series, Book 7

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Harry Potter Series, Book 5

Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy

Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal: Harry Potter Serie, Libro 1 (Spanish)

The Dirt Diary Series, Book 1

Big Nate in the Zone: Big Nate Series, Book 6 by Lincoln Pierce

The Beyond the Page literary festival for tamariki and their whanau – a project with Hutt City, Upper Hutt City, Wellington, Kāpiti and Porirua Libraries – is running events online this weekend.

Children can sign up to take part in a Zoom drawing class with talented comic book artist and wrestler, Michael Mulipola or join the Family Quiz on Sunday – learn more here.