Last week, after Council had ratified the deed for the new joint use library in Young, I took time to reflect on the place of the public library in our society. ‘A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people’, so spoke the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in the early 20th century.
We can underestimate the importance of a community library. Australians make about 114 million visits each year to public libraries – with 75% revisiting at least 3 times and over one-third visiting more than 10 times. This makes the public library our most valued cultural institution.
A conversation has been taking place on all levels about the future of libraries, their place in the community and the role they will play. The new twenty-first century libraries, in their design, development of policy and practices, illustrate the perception of the public library as a community hub - as being central to the social, recreational and educational agendas of local communities. Public libraries are part of our knowledge system and our civic and social infrastructure, where everyone, regardless of background or status, has access to knowledge and culture.
Libraries as physical spaces are also being transformed and library architecture is ‘a wonderful site of experimentation’, which is perhaps one reason why library tourism is also re-emerging as a travel hotspot – Library Planet is a worldwide, crowdsourced, online library travel guide. I’m looking forward to the Hilltops Library Network being included in this space.
The renaissance of library appreciation has rightly seen much affection and respect being directed towards library staff who are the backbone of a vibrant library culture. Our thanks go to the staff of Hilltops libraries for the programs they run, the questions they answer and the help they freely give to all.
– Councillor Marg Roles
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