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Last modified: 29 Jul 2020 10:42am

A line of 13 people stand in front of a white van with a blue and orange logo

A new library service bringing popular programmes and resources to those who don’t have easy access to a library had its first outing last week.

Residents of Castle Hill and Arthur’s Pass were the first to try out the Selwyn District Council’s new Edge Connector service in its specially kitted out vehicle last week.

The service is designed to bring targeted library resources, programmes and services to communities, schools, pre-schools and community groups that are not within easy reach of one of the district’s four libraries. The Edge Connector’s main focus is on those outlying communities at least 15 kilometres from a library.

Community Services and Facilities Group Manager, Denise Kidd, says the service has been designed to be cost effective, efficient and flexible in what it provides, so it can bring things the whole community want but would otherwise be difficult to access. “We want to make sure those communities across the district without easy access to a physical library have similar opportunities to others, whether that’s through education on our online resources or bringing a specific programme that caters to a group of residents of the particular community.”

It is expected regular visits to communities such as Windwhistle, Springfield, Dunsandel, Southbridge, Hororata, Greendale, Glentunnel and Sheffield will begin in the next few weeks. Other visits are being planned as the service assesses the needs and interest levels in particular communities, and continues to work on logistics and opportunities.

The Edge Connector is fitted with wifi, computers and a touch screen online catalogue as well as a printer and scanner. It will bring a selection of books, magazines and DVDs along with tech kits with equipment that can include microscopes, telescopes, robotic kits and entry level VR equipment, which can be browsed or borrowed.

It will also be able to carry resources such as a 3D printer and sewing machines to allow for specific programmes.

The newly purchased Edge Connector vehicle has a focus on cost effectiveness and environmental sustainability with the electronics powered by two auxiliary batteries that charge while the van drives or are powered by a specially fitted solar panel on the roof. It also has low energy LED lighting. It accommodates specially made furniture to provide maximum space including reading spots for children and adults and storage.

The Wifi on board is provided via the Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa (APNK), which is part of the National Library of New Zealand, Department of Internal Affairs. This partnership brings free Internet services to public libraries throughout New Zealand. This is the first time APNK has trialled a mobile service in New Zealand.