25 September 2023

Inquiry brings libraries to book

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The Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Environment and Transport and City Services has released a report following its inquiry into the ACT’s libraries.

The Committee’s report makes 14 recommendations for public library services in Canberra, including one for a new branch to serve the Molonglo and Weston Creek area.

The report examines the efforts Libraries ACT has made to engage with the community and be accessible and inclusive to a wide range of community groups with diverse needs.

Among the Committee’s recommendations were that library opening hours be reviewed in consultation with the community and that ways be explored to facilitate after-hours access to library services without introducing significant staff costs to Libraries ACT, for example, parcel collect lockers.

It also suggested the Libraries ACT website and online catalogue be upgraded and that marketing and communications of library services be improved to increase community awareness.

The Committee urged the Government to explore opportunities for further partnerships between Libraries ACT and government and community services and that specialist digital literacy training programs be developed for people with disability.

It favoured an electronic booking system for meeting rooms along with an increase in the number of meeting rooms available to the community and the facilitation of after-hours access, particularly at Woden Library.

Chair of the committee, Suzanne Orr MLA said it was a privilege for the Committee to read dozens of personal descriptions of the impact of libraries in people’s lives.

“It is clear that libraries are highly valued in the Canberra community, and held in great affection,” Ms Orr said.

“Libraries improve quality of life, promote lifelong learning, and contribute to social inclusion,” she said.

The committee’s 129-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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