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Source: Auckland Council

Aucklanders are embracing the online collections on offer from Auckland Council Libraries during the lockdown, something that delights Auckland Council Head of Library and Learning Services, Catherine Leonard.

“It is great to see so many Aucklanders making the most of the eCollections. Having such a diverse collection online allows us to help Aucklanders get through this lockdown and they are really embracing the digital offerings.”

She says the increase in eCollection checkouts, like eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines or eNewspapers, was immediate.

“We saw a 22 per cent increase in daily traffic to our e-Collections as soon as it was announced that the country was moving to Alert Level 4. That hasn’t eased off either with the weekly average during lockdown up 41 per cent across all categories of eBooks and eAudiobooks.”

Catherine explains that after a month the figures show that eBooks and eAudiobooks are more popular than during last year’s first lockdown.

“The data also shows a clear difference between weekdays and weekends, with downloads and streaming increasing over the weekends. Aucklanders are really making good use of the eCollections to relax and explore with both eBooks and movie streaming from our portals spiking on Saturdays and Sundays”, says Catherine.

Children’s books popular this lockdown

Checkouts of Children’s fiction and nonfiction eBooks have almost doubled which is particularly pleasing for Catherine.

“Being at home every day is hard on children. They miss their friends and the ability to get all the stimulation they need. Books are a great way to feed a child’s imagination and a great option for parents to help their children stay entertained and occupied.”

“We have been monitoring the most popular books across all categories and we see fiction series, like Harry Potter, dominate in the children’s fiction category.

“This is something that we also see with the lending of physical items when we’re open, but it’s particularly prominent now with 9 out of the top 10 eBooks list being in a series. The top ten eAudiobooks is a tie between authors David Walliams and J.K. Rowling with five books each.”

“The children’s and teens’ book club is also doing well, with the Children’s Pick ‘n’ Mix list seeing a 300 per cent increase in checkouts. This guaranteed available list combines classics, general fiction titles and a mix of non-fiction.

“We’re delighted to see New Zealand poetry ‘Mophead’ topping this list. Authored by former New Zealand Poet Laureate (2017-2019) Selina Tusitala Marsh, it’s her personal and moving graphic memoir of growing up Pasifika in New Zealand. Full of great humour, it tells Selina’s journey of realising how her difference can make a difference. It is so good to see such an inspiring and local story topping that list,” says Catherine.

Escape or self-help

When it comes to adult books, the trend is for either escapism or self-help.

“The Bridgerton books are popular in adult fiction. Three of the top ten are from that series. Perhaps it is a result of the popularity of the TV series,” suggests Catherine.

She says that self-help books are also popular with Aucklanders.

“We seem to really like these type of books in Tāmaki Makaurau. They were popular during last year’s lockdowns and that is being repeated this time around.”

A new trend that is emerging in the adult non-fiction this lockdown is the popularity of New Zealand books.

“It is really great to see Kiwi books doing well. Three of the top-ten are New Zealand centric but quite varied. It shows that there is plenty of interest in exploring stories from our own backyard,” says Catherine.

Three books in the top-ten are: “Let’s Learn Māori” by Bruce Biggs at number 4; Steve Braunias’ “How to watch a bird” at 9; and “Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand” by Jarrod Gilbert at number 10.

Catherine recommends the digital offerings Auckland Council Libraries has.

“As Aucklanders, we are very fortunate to have access to so much through our library network. I am proud of the way the team can be so agile with our digital offerings, and it is great to see that it is helping people through the challenging time of lockdown.”

She adds that it also highlights that libraries can keep providing reading options for us as well as a range of choices for learning and entertainment. 

“Our eBook collections are amazing, but there is so much more for people to enjoy. Whether it is a magazine, or reading a newspaper, retraining or exploring our heritage, there is so much to discover, and it is all just a click of a mouse away.”