South Wairarapa residents are among the most well read in the district, according to new figures showing the number of library book check out numbers per district.
While Masterton had the highest total issue rates, Martinborough had the highest number of issues per person at a rate of 21.6 items for the last year, followed by Greytown at 17.9 and Featherston at 13.5 items.
Neighbouring Carterton trailed behind with 8.2 items issued per person and Masterton at 9.6 items.
South Wairarapa District Council chief executive Harry Wilson was pleased by the result, though he noted there were many factors that might contribute to the difference in issue rates between the libraries.
“We’re really pleased that the South Wairarapa libraries are well-used by the community,” he said. “Removal of fines and charges should result in even more people accessing our libraries.”
Masterton District Council library and archives manager Sandy Green said issue rates for physical items were on a downward trend across New Zealand though Masterton regularly bucked this, and digital issues were growing.
“Masterton sits on the national average  for the items issued per active, registered borrower.
“Libraries are no longer a place where people go just to loan books – attempting to benchmark public libraries against each other solely on statistics does not appreciate the differences within each community and the expanded service offering libraries now provide.”
The number of items available for loan, the number of residents registered as library users, the socio-economic makeup of the populations and the demographics of each district were contributing factors.
She said the Masterton Library was an holistic service provider, accommodating a range of community needs including access to printing and internet services.
A spokeswomann for Carterton District Council, Elisa Vorster, agreed there were several factors which could have led to the varying number of issues
“One thing we can say for certain is our Carterton residents highly value our library. For the past two years our residents’ survey has reflected this, with the library scoring a 93 per cent satisfaction rate in 2018.”
She said this could be credited to the range of events and programmes organised by the library staff and their “fantastic” facility.
The Wairarapa Library Services, which oversees the strategy and direction of the three South Wairarapa and Carterton District libraries, removed overdue library fees for children and young adults early in July.
Carterton councillors also voted in favour of removing the rental charges on adult fiction.
“We believe removing these fees and charges will lead to increased use and better outcomes in literacy and educational achievement,” Vorster said.
The Masterton District Council had earlier cut late fees for children and young adults in September of last year.