Fight to save li­brary

Midland Reporter - - Front Page - Sarah Brookes

THE Guild­ford com­mu­nity is mo­bil­is­ing once again, protest­ing against a re­port that will be pre­sented to City of Swan coun­cil­lors on Wed­nes­day evening de­tail­ing plans to close the Guild­ford li­brary.

Guild­ford As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Bar­bara Dun­das claimed over the past three years the City of Swan had held a no­tice­able cam­paign to re­move books and chil­dren’s ser­vices at the li­brary.

“Story times for young chil­dren were resched­uled in the af­ter­noon, a time un­suit­able for young chil­dren,” she said.

“Then with re­duced num­bers, chil­dren’s story time and all hol­i­day ac­tiv­i­ties were ceased.

“These ac­tions seemed to be re­duc­ing li­brary ma­te­ri­als and mem­ber­ship.”

Ms Dun­das said while the as­so­ci­a­tion sup­ported the re­ten­tion of the li­brary, there was a need for it to be vi­able.

“We ask that we be given a pe­riod of grace,” she said.

“It would seem de­sir­able to have a com­mu­nity-based com­mit­tee to as­cer­tain the needs of this com­mu­nity and if the li­brary can achieve these ends.

“Li­brary ser­vices are chang­ing, how­ever let’s see if the com­mu­nity can work with the City to rein­vig­o­rate our li­brary, which is one of the old­est in WA.”

Cr David Fardig re­quested a re­port be pro­vided to the coun­cil by the end of Septem­ber de­tail­ing a plan to close the Guild­ford li­brary and pro­pose po­ten­tial al­ter­na­tive uses for the fa­cil­ity.

An of­fi­cer’s re­port said Guild­ford re­mained the only City of Swan li­brary that had not grown rapidly since 2009 in mem­ber­ship and us­age.

“This ini­ti­ated a re­duc­tion in re­sources and open­ing hours over time in an ef­fort to en­sure eq­uity of al­lo­ca­tion of re­sources to ar­eas of greater need,” the re­port said.

“In 2015, the de­liv­ery of a 12month plan in an at­tempt to re­vi­talise the li­brary through the in­tro­duc­tion of in­no­va­tive pro­grams and ac­tiv­i­ties was en­dorsed.

“This in­cluded a ded­i­cated pro­fes­sional to work full time in and on the Guild­ford Li­brary, dou­bling the num­ber of re­sources to loan, open­ing the li­brary to co­in­cide with com­mu­nity events such as the Guild­ford Her­itage Fes­ti­val and week­end mar­kets, cou­pled with con­sis­tent open­ing hours.

“At the end of this pe­riod, us­age ac­tu­ally de­creased, demon­strat­ing that the Guild­ford Li­brary is not sus­tain­able as a small stand-alone branch.”

How­ever, Guild­ford Fam­ily Play­group com­mu­nity li­ai­son of­fi­cer Claire Scan­lan said clos­ing the li­brary would be dis­as­trous for the com­mu­nity.

“The li­brary is un­der-utilised, but that is be­cause it has chaotic open­ing hours and a de­pleted col­lec­tion,” she said.

“The li­brary needs rein­vent­ing to suit our cur­rent needs, and needs the com­mu­nity to drive this change.”

Guild­ford res­i­dent Lianda Gib­son said the com­mu­nity had not been con­sulted over the po­ten­tial clo­sure of the li­brary.

“I re­call a sur­vey be­ing sent through elec­tronic chan­nels some time ago, but beyond this, there has been lit­tle true en­gage­ment,” she said.

“The City can and should do bet­ter, es­pe­cially with an ac­tive, com­mu­nity such as Guild­ford who wel­come and em­brace good com­mu­nity en­gage­ment.”

Pic­ture: Bruce Hunt d471985

Lianda Gib­son with Piper, Karen Bald­win with Emma, Claire Scan­lon with Cosette, and Mary Long­don.

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