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Fiji readers to benefit from Queenstown Lakes libraries’ book boost

Queenstown Lakes District Libraries has donated dozens of books to its counterparts in Fiji through the Pacific Libraries Project, a New Zealand-based charitable initiative.

Local librarians packed up nine large cartons of books collected from the district’s eight libraries as well as some donated by individuals after the call went out to all Council staff.

Most items will restock the shelves at Labasa Public Library on Fiji’s second largest island Vanua Levu with some heading to Suva, the nation’s capital, where a small mobile library visiting schools is losing customers as its stock of books is worse than in most of the schools themselves.

Queenstown Lakes District Librarian Sue Gwilliam said the emphasis was on quality as well as quantity.

“The Pacific Libraries Project is quite clear about the type of books that the islands’ communities need the most. They all have to be in good condition, less than five years old and reflect the fact that English is a second language for most Fijians,” said Ms Gwilliam.

“Books also need to be suitable for Fiji’s relatively more conservative society. Mills and Boon romances are popular for example but anything racier than that wouldn’t be suitable at all!”

She added that children’s titles are in particular need along with non-fiction books on topics like crafts, cooking, nursing and biographies.

Included in one carton is a complete team set of new sports shorts – surplus staff uniforms donated by the team at Wānaka Recreation Centre.

“Fiji is an enthusiastic rugby nation so I’m sure they’ll be put to good use even if they’re a surprise for whoever opens the box!” said Ms Gwilliam.

Jill Best of the Pacific Libraries Project said she has been delighted by the response.

“A big thank you to Queenstown Lakes District Libraries and QLDC staff. It makes so much difference in the islands. Labasa will get a real boost this time which they need so much. I’ll try to go up and help the sole librarian throw out and replace her ancient stock. The shorts will certainly surprise them but will be very useful as long as I remember to declare them on the customs form!” said Ms Best.

The charity’s next project will be children’s non-fiction for Tuvalu later this year. Jill Best said NZ’s public library managers are notified in advance so Queenstown Lakes Libraries and others around the country can start setting relevant deleted items aside in the interim.

Sue Gwilliam said she is considering opening out the collection to the wider community.

“Our libraries have sent books off to Vanuatu and Samoa for the Pacific Libraries Project in previous years but why not take it out to the public next time? I’m sure people will find it a rewarding experience donating pre-loved books knowing that they’ll give others pleasure in recreation and education.”