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Retirement marks end of an era for Central Hawke’s Bay District Libraries

doug adn sue

There have been many thousands of book covers scanned since Library Services Manager Sue Fargher began working for Central Hawke’s Bay District Libraries 28 years ago.

As she retires this week, she reflects on progress over the years – from the introduction of computer systems, to creating children’s summer reading programmes, and most recently, opening The Knowledge and Learning Hub - Te Huinga Wai in Waipukurau.

“For many in Central Hawke’s Bay our libraries are so much more than a place to find books, they are the heart of a connected community, a safe place where everyone is welcome – an open door, relevant to all,” Sue says.

“Over the years I have really enjoyed how people view the library, and its purpose within our communities. With the way that technology has grown over the last decade, we now offer a link to the world.

“Free wi-fi opens the doors to far more than borrowing a book, as we now have access to knowledge and communities. Access, content and connectivity; this is what it is all about, and I am proud of what we have achieved.”

There have been many renowned authors visit for various fundraisers and book tours in Sue’s time, thanks to the efforts of a supportive Friends of the Library group.

From children’s writer Jacqueline Wilson – who delighted children from throughout Central Hawke’s Bay - to another favourite, chef Jo Seager.

The most memorable, however, was Doug Avery, who wrote a book called The Resilient Farmer and filled CHB Municipal Theatre at a time when mental health of those in Central Hawke’s Bay’s farming community was of huge concern.

“We worked closely with The East Coast Rural Support Trust and for me it reinforced the importance of libraries for rural communities,” Sue says.

“We have been fortunate enough to form positive relationships with authors and publishers alike. It’s wonderful to have such variety come through our townships.”

Sue has always been in charge of book selection for the libraries with a focus on providing unique collections that see local libraries punching well above their weight in terms of variety.

“I’ve always aimed to make sure there is something for everyone, or as close to that as possible. It’s been really important to me to encourage kids to read, keep teenagers interested, foster people’s passions and cover a range of genres for adults.

“A love of reading is something that brings joy, and seeing children realise that reading is fun has always been a highlight for me.”

Sue began her librarian career at Hastings Public Library from 1971 to 1974. She started at Waipawa Library in 1994, which at the time was housed in the old CHB Municipal Theatre building.

Since then, there have been many books packed in and out of boxes - in 1998 Waipawa Library moved to the present building. This was upgraded in 2009 with a temporary library opening in a nearby shop.

There was also the unexpected closure of Waipukurau Library, following both Council and community expectations that the building had been strengthened as part of structural and renovation works completed in 2016.
“For this to have happened right after reopening followed by the first COVID lockdown and the subsequent challenges this brought was pretty devastating. It was a shock for our community to lose such a focal point in Waipukurau,” Sue says.
“Fortunately, we now have two very community focused facilities - The Waipawa Library and Te Huinga Wai - The Knowledge and Learning Hub, where Waipukurau Library has its home for now, giving the team an opportunity to nurture and develop a digital space and move with the times.”
Central Hawke’s Bay District Council Chief Executive Doug Tate said it was an amazing feat to have dedicated 28 years to a role that has formed such an important thread in the fabric of our community.

“Sue has been such an integral part of creating Libraries of the future here - a taste of what we have started here together in Central Hawke’s Bay. Far more than books, libraries are the critical connection for so many services and people,” says Mr Tate.

“From crime stories, to Council services, AA, knitting groups, yoga, meeting rooms, programmes, book clubs, music lessons, digital inclusion, a place to sit, a place to catch up - our libraries are open to all opportunities and walks of life.”

1 November 2022

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