City Library Home Service celebrates 50 years

Published on 15 November 2022

A Home Service member chats with a volunteer over a pile of books.

The Palmerston North City Council is celebrating its City Library’s Home Service programme, which has been delivering a world of imagination and lifelong learning for half a century.

The Home Service programme started in February 1972, designed to benefit those in the community who are physically unable to visit one of the public libraries or the Mobile Library, but would like to access all the City Library has to offer.

What initially began as a trial with 17 customers and six delivery drivers had grown by the end of the 1980s to serve 65 people with 30 volunteers. It continues to steadily grow, particularly as our population ages and new partnerships form with rest homes, residential care facilities and community organisations.

Noeline, who is now in her nineties and finds it tiring walking to the Awapuni Library, uses the service and says she loves the friendship from the delivery volunteers.

Once a fortnight, a group of volunteers and staff members help Home Services Coordinator, Nora Kilpin pack books, magazines, puzzles, audio books, DVDs and CDs into personalised bags for 103 members.

Mrs Kilpin says it is her role to take the library out into the community, to enable access to the collection to those who - because of limited health or mobility - can't come into one of the libraries. She also works closely with the Mobile Library, which some of the community can access nearer to their homes.

“The Home Service is an important lifeline for many of our patrons, who would otherwise feel isolated. The service provides a vital link to their wider community,” she says.

Deliveries are split into 2 groups, so each member receives a visit once a month where their previous month’s order is also collected.

When a member first joins up, Mrs Kilpin meets them to assess their needs and preferences for reading and listening material. 

Items are then carefully selected and packed to fulfil these requests.

Beryl, who says her eyesight is not what it used to be, says using the service to read large print books helps to take her into another world through the range of interesting stories.

The majority of the Home Service members are long-term. There is also the option to become a short-term member for those who are going into hospital, and the service can be used for the duration of their recovery.

Outreach Coordinator Angela Rea says Home Service volunteers tend to commit longer term as they find it a very rewarding experience.

“It’s important to recognise the massive impact of that monthly connection. A smile at the door, taking a few minutes to have a chat... Sometimes you might be the only person they see that day. And they’re not just grateful to the person delivering, often we find notes in the returned bags expressing thanks for a particular book selection or for making them feel valued."

To enquire about using the Home Service, you need to be a member of the Palmerston North City Library. If you are unable to come in or you do not have a family member or friend who could sign you up at the library, you can email the team on  or call 06 351 4100 ext 7158 and leave a detailed message.

To express your interest in being a volunteer to help with selecting and/or delivering library materials for the Home Service, please get in touch at