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Parents divided over addition of PlayStations to Wellington libraries

Tyreese Bennett-James, 9, tries out the new PlayStation 4 at the Ruth Gotlieb Kilbirnie Library, where it is available between 3pm and 5pm on weekdays.

The studious hush of the traditional library has been well and truly shattered in the Wellington suburb of Karori.

The public library in the upmarket suburb is one of six in the capital to have bought PlayStation 4 gaming consoles as part of a new trial.

The hope is to attract more children through the doors with the offer of being able to Minecraft, Lego Star Wars and other PlayStation games.

The Fifa football games will be among those on offer at six Wellington libraries during a trial. (File photo)

But the move has divided parents in Karori, where some believe there are too few screen-free places, and the library should remain a refuge for book-lovers. 

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The PS4 consoles cost about $1100 each, and were added to Wellington central, Johnsonville, Karori, Kilbirnie, Miramar and Cummings Park libraries in April.


The range of G and PG games include Minecraft, Lego Star Wars, Rugby Challenge 3, and Fifa.

Earlier this month, parents took to the I Love Karori Facebook page to criticise the decision to add the PlayStations to what they said should be a screen-free space.

Mother-of-three Alice Behan said the idea of adding a PlayStation to a library was "kind of counter-productive".

Head of Wellington libraries Chris Hay said he started playing video games as a child before graduating to reading comics and books.

The library was a space for her children to use their own imaginations, and the addition of a PlayStation screen would be a constant distraction for children who are at a crucial age of development.

"It just doesn't gel well with me, with the idea about using their imagination and exploring the world of books."

"I spend so much of my time encouraging them to do something or read books ... they are just going to stand there and stare at it, which they are entitled to do, but I don't want them to do that in the library."

Minecraft games will also be on offer - to the displeasure of some parents in Karori. (File photo)

Other parents expressed support for the move, and said the addition of the consoles was a way to keep up with the times and to keep children engaged in the library.

Niki Locker-Lampson, who has a 16-year-old-son, said the way children used libraries had changed, and many dropped in after school to use the internet or take a break between school and sport.

Wellington libraries manager Christopher Hay defended the decision, saying computer games were not a radical departure from other library offerings.

The PlayStations were being trialled as a way to promote the library to children who might not usually go there, and were part of libraries being a 21st-century space.

Improving literacy was still the focus of Wellington libraries, he said.

Onslow-Western ward councillor Diane Calvert initially expressed concern about the PlayStations, but said she had come around to the idea.

"Initial reactions, like probably myself, was, 'Oh I'm not sure if this is right', but when you understand the issue a bit more in the broader context, it is something you need to test," she said.

One of the concerns of parents was the location of the PlayStation near the pre-schoolers' section in Karori Library, and it has since been moved.

​The PlayStation trial will be reviewed in July, and parents are encouraged to give feedback to staff, or provide it online.




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