National Library appeals to younger audience with 'Fortnite, Fades and Kicks' event

A National Library event aiming to get young people through the door has exceeded expectations.

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The library is partnering with a local games club to make their space more appealing. Source: 1 NEWS

'Fortnites, Fades and Kicks' was the result of an event design process between library staff and youth — a new approach in the library’s focus of attracting a wider range of people.

"Honestly just happy cause when I was little I thought libraries were like old people like my grandma and now that they have this, it’s just super cool!" primary school student Tabitha Marsden told 1 NEWS.

Marsden tried being a DJ behind the decks for the first time at the event.

"Totally new experience and it was really awesome, the guys were so nice, everyone’s just super nice around here," she said.

National Librarian Te Pouhaki Rachel Esson said the building can look "a bit like a fortress from the outside", but inside there are amazing pieces of the country’s history, including exhibitions, Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi) and the 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition, which secured Kiwi women the right to vote before any other nation.

"We’ve noticed that not so many young people are coming in to the library — they come in with class visits but they don’t tend to come in and engage and study on their own," Esson said.

"We want them to know that this is a place for them as well and particularly with the new histories curriculum that’s coming on board, which is going to be a lot more about local histories and primary sources, we have a lot of material here in the National Library."

She said the library wants youth to feel comfortable visiting so they return and seek out information that helps them learn more.

Arepa Gamers Club worked with the library on the event, using gaming as a way to attract young people.

"Moving into a digital age where books and history doesn’t seem as exciting but being able to gamify that and use that as a method to reconnect with kids," Arepa Gamers Club co-founder Richard Busby said.

"For those people saying gaming doesn’t belong here, it’s going to be a part of your history so why not live in that moment right now," he said about the event taking place at the National Library.

Whānau that attended the event with rangatahi aspiring to be professional gamers were told to support their kids with their interest, and approach it with the same commitment whānau would give children for other sports.

One of the country’s top Fortnite players, Jahlyn Evernden, attended the event to verse youth in the game, and Asia Ailao, also known as Miss Glam, was also there to show her talents in the game Tekken and encourage girls in particular to give it a go.

A sneaker collection and free fade haircuts were also popular among youth and parents alike.

"I look there and there’s Richard Hadlee’s shoes next to Wu-Tang shoes, you know, and that’s stuff I grew up with," dad Mike Marsden said.

Esson said gaming would be recorded as part of the nation’s history at the library.

"We collect the games themselves so they will be part of our collections in the future when people want to look back and say, ‘Hey, what games were people playing in 2021?’."