Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa
Te Rau Herenga O Aotearoa

Upper Hutt Library

Upper Hutt Library's experiment with new technology and community particpation to preserve local knowledge history has made them the hub of the community.

Upper Hutt City Library is not a traditional public library as most people would expect.  It has become the hub of the Upper Hutt community and whilst it still provides the fundamental library services it also offers much more with at least 70 programmes running. The Library caters for the younger, more digitally savvy audience through to those with more life experience. 

The Library’s collections have gone global with interest coming from not only those based in Upper Hutt but from those now living elsewhere within New Zealand or overseas.  Britain and Australia currently rank at the top for those searching their family histories through Upper Hutt.A quote from the article

Other examples include history searches on railways, machinery and even classical bridal outfits.  Most people are unaware the Library contains a very large collection of wedding photos from the 50s and 60s.

Using Recollect as a tool

The Library chose Recollect for their heritage collections as they wanted to connect with people in new ways and help them connect with information.

Recollect has provided the Library with a platform which enables them interact with their community resulting in much higher levels of engagement.  It has allowed people from all parts of the community to share their knowledge and experiences (particularly the older generation who have valuable knowledge about the past that may soon be lost forever).  A quote from the articleAs Recollect is web based, it has enabled the community to grow geographically with participants based world-wide.  As the community involvement has grown so has the level of enthusiastic volunteers who provide geotags image tags and broader more descriptive information about material that was often sparsely described.

The Library Recollect site now holds over 20,000 photographs as well as videos, sound recordings, publications and manuscripts and while it is a very open site, there are layers of securely stored information that is not visible to or discoverable by members of the public.

People accessing the Library collections on line are now averaging over 1500 per month (or about 50 per day) compared to 4 or 5 per month previously and the numbers just keep growing.  This has led to the discovery of some gems such as the Selwyn Toogood video that recently went viral.

Recollect image Recollect image 2

Community Interaction

Whether you call it ingenuity or stubbornness, the Library has evolved/developed many ways of capturing people’s stories and recollections by engaging them physically.  This has ranged from people placing hand written sticky notes on a wall or having other Council activities included on site to volunteers recording memories shared in group meetings.  These group meetings were originally developed for those who were computer shy/challenged and quickly became so popular for people of all technical levels that booking a place became a must.  This has also led to an additional unforeseen benefit, a social event not just for the older community. 

When you talk with people from Upper Hutt there is a definite pride in the way they talk about “their Library”.  It has become “the library that is so much more”.

Debbie Duncan talks about the digitisation of the Upper Hutt heritage collection

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