MORE than 600 new books are sitting in boxes in Warragul. They belong to Bass Coast’s future Waterline library. They are in storage alongside self-checkout equipment and shelving. Computers are ready to be deployed. We can order more shelving, desks and reading chairs as required.
Last month the board of the West Gippsland Regional Library Corporation voted to locate that new library in the Grantville Transaction Centre.
Grantville makes sense as a central hub. People from across the Waterline towns go to Grantville for the chemist, the post office, the medical centre, the cafes, the petrol station and council office. It’s our regional centre. Although the total Waterline population exceeds the population of Inverloch, library usage numbers on our side of the shire are much lower.
We have extensively surveyed the Waterline and the community has told us that we should rent one of the empty shops in Grantville for a library. However, our investigation revealed there are no suitable premises currently available for lease in Grantville.
Our ultimate goal is to open a standalone facility that reflects the expectations of the community. In the interim, as we wait for something suitable to become available we have turned our attention to the Grantville Transaction Centre. This will allow us to make library services available for many more hours per week in a convenient location.
This building, which is owned by the council, currently accommodates a nurse practitioner, two Bass Coast customer service staff and an unstaffed Centrelink kiosk. They will all remain in the centre.
The Waterline Library will be open for 37.5 hours a week. A librarian will be on duty for six hours per week and self checkout facilities are available the rest of the time. In consultation with the community, we’re also investigating options for borrowers to collect or return borrowed items in other Waterline towns.
I value feedback and interest from the community around this.
We still need to hone our library out-reach programs and further services across the Waterline communities. Cr Le Serve is championing their input and advice and we are collating the results of our community survey to inform decisions and negotiations.
I wear a few hats in these discussions, representing the people of Western Port as a ward councillor, while I represent our shire and community as a library board member. As chairperson of the board I work with the CEO to achieve the library corporation’s long-term financial plan while providing relevant services to people in the Bass Coast, South Gippsland and Baw Baw shires.
That means making sure as many people as possible can use our services, regardless of their location or level of income.
I’m glad to be able to say that, in June, we voted to drop fines for overdue books and collection items. Our trial of Fine Free February showed that fines overwhelmingly penalise those who can least afford the penalty and deter them from using our libraries.
Putting a library in Grantville is a vote of confidence in the area and could lend weight to the Grantville Needs a Supermarket campaign. It also recognises the future growth of the area. One day, perhaps, we will see a library in one of the shopfronts adjacent to the future supermarket.
Geoff Ellis is a councillor for the Waterline ward.