LAST week I learned the Waterline townships in Bass Coast will lose their mobile library service in June 2019.
It’s just one more example of the Waterline communities being disadvantaged. Imagine the storm that would erupt in Cowes if their library service was closed, and they were offered a replacement service of a trolley load of books to peruse, and a drop-off and pick-up point with a librarian being contactable by telephone.
The city people may say, big deal … go to the library like we have to. But the mobile library is our weekly community hub. It comes to Coronet Bay, Corinella, San Remo, Kilcunda and Grantville once a week. It stops for one and a half hours in Grantville, two hours in Coronet Bay and lucky San Remo has five hours.
Although it’s small, it houses a fair range of books, magazines, videos and CDs for adults and children. Readers know how fabulous it is to browse through books on a shelf to find something to read. I had to leave school in year 9, so my education has been very limited. I use the library to read, to learn and for pleasure.
I can remember one Tuesday when our local councillor, Geoff Ellis, who is chairman of the library corporation, came to Coronet Bay to look over the mobile library. Some of us were having coffee on the foreshore and Geoff came out raving about what a great service it was. How good the community vibe was and the interaction between the librarian and the people going in and how she knew all their names. The mobile library is part of our social interaction. And now it is going to be lost.
The community spirit that exists in the Waterline townships is amazing and is the main reason why most of us live where we live. But it has its challenges, especially for those who don’t have a car to visit the local nurse practitioner, or the local GP, or the pharmacy. The closest police station is San Remo or Wonthaggi. A small bus runs infrequently to Grantville to connect with services to Melbourne, Wonthaggi or Phillip Island.
I spent some talking to the CEO of the library corporation last week and heard a lot of spin. There is the possibility of a “micro-service” in Corinella Community Centre with a “trolley” of books, including a drop-off and pick-up point for books. They don’t understand that some people don’t have cars and Coronet Bay is 45 minutes’ walk from Corinella. We only have a partial footpath, in the main street and in the new developments.
Yes, the library service allows access to choose books online from a wide range of libraries in Victoria, and there is no doubt that this is a fabulous service. But the ability to browse books is an essential part of being a book reader.
I tried to explain to the CEO that the library service is an essential service, as are schools, transport and health services. They’re an integral part of physical and mental wellbeing.
I was asked what I would like. I asked for a guarantee in writing that we would get a comparable service to what we are experiencing with the mobile library. I was told that was not possible.
The opportunity to have one library building among the Waterline townships is a topic that has never been taken seriously and has been dismissed out of hand. Mechanics institutes were an essential part of learning in the 1800s and early 1900s. They were replaced by library services to allow people access to learning and to reading books for pleasure.
They say everyone at some time reaches a stage when they say “Enough!” Too often these days we are told to accept increased prices and decreased services. I have accepted the fact that our rates have increased. I have accepted the fact that the CEO of Bass Coast Shire Council receives a record salary. But the news that we are to lose the mobile library service is too much. I hope other Bass Coast residents will support the Waterline townships and say no, this can’t be allowed to happen.
Write to your local councillors. Write to the Waterline councillors. Write to the State and Federal politicians. I think we deserve better and I don’t think this should be allowed to happen, not in our Bass Coast Shire. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org or Save our West Gippsland Mobile Library Facebook page.