Kawerau - ‘The People’s Network encourages you to learn’
The arrival of the Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa in Kawerau - the first library to install the service - has resulted in significant, tangible benefits for the community.
Kawerau is not an affluent community and its population has low levels of computer literacy. The absence of fees involved in using the People’s Network and the support provided by library staff are driving high demand and use of the service.
The benefits are significant for the Kawerau community. Adults users have reported increased confidence and capability with technology. They have been able to produce professional CVs and apply for jobs online.
"Once you start using it it encourages you to take so many steps in education and all sorts of areas. The Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa encourages you to learn."
Engaging Kawerau's young people in constructive activities at the library was seen as an immediate benefit to the community. Although the main use of the People’s Network by young people is social, greater choices for youth and the opportunity to become more employable have been identified as longer term benefits.
"It gives the youth a chance. The Aotearoa People's Network Kaharoa provides an opportunity to influence youth to spend their time [more wisely] in a good environment where you can learn and enhance learning. The way the internet is monitored here is brilliant."
Connectedness and community
The Aotearoa People's Network Kaharoa represents an opportunity to learn new things and to access the rest of the world. The library has become a meeting place for meeting people online and developing a local community with other users. There are real financial benefits for those who previously had to travel to cities or towns to do their banking and other business.
"This is close to home so I can come in easily and I feel comfortable here."
Demand for the People’s Network
Community acceptance of the new service has been rapid, and demand for the service has been high. Staff estimate a 45% increase in foot traffic over a six-month period.
"It's great for a small community like Kawerau to be first with such an exciting initiative. Not only will it give Kawerau people free online access to content, it will also provide tools for individuals to create and store their own content." - Susan Harris, Library Manager Kawerau District Library.