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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3434..

Questions without notice

Griffith library

MR STEFANIAK: My question is directed to the Minister for the Territory and Municipal Services. According to page 36 of the social plan outlined by the Stanhope government, one of the goals of the community is to "reduce the risks of social exclusion by narrowing the gap between the information rich and the information poor". Given that many residents of the inner south are elderly and may also be economically disadvantaged, why are you closing Griffith library, as this will greatly increase the risks of social exclusion?

MR HARGREAVES: In terms of its provision of library services across Canberra, the government is making sure that people are not socially excluded. We need to appreciate that the people of Griffith and Narrabundah are grieving about the closure of their library. I acknowledge that and respect that.

The government has a responsibility to all of Canberra. When we talk about the provision of library services, we need to take into account the additional services and facilities that this government has put in place. For example, Mr Stefaniak would acknowledge the development of the Kippax library in his own electorate-$3.3 million dollars into the Kippax library. That is a group centre. He would acknowledge the additional moneys that we have put into refurbishing Woden and Belconnen-something like $2 million worth. I am sure Mr Stefaniak would acknowledge the link project, which includes a new Civic library-$16 million worth-it is worth probably in the order of 12 of that. That is about enhancing the services. He would know that we have put something like $800,000 into new materials right across Canberra.

As far as the government are concerned, we have to provide the best and most contemporary collections that we possibly can in areas where people can use them. When we commissioned a report into library services, we found that all the other libraries other than Griffith were in fact increasing their patronage and usage, and Griffith was declining. We took the decision that the Griffith library would close. We have a matter of public importance on the books for later on. I will go into it in some more detail at that point.

But people should know that some of the services currently being provided at Griffith library do not necessarily need to be there. The call centre, for example, can be located within Canberra Connect. You can get a greatly enhanced service on a one-stop-shop basis. The mobile library is an outreach service. That can be based anywhere, as long as it has a truck-parking bay. The home lending library itself is another outreach service. That also does not need to be provided from Griffith; it can be provided from anywhere. It goes into people's homes and stops that isolation.

The staff at Griffith will be deployed in other libraries. The materials will also spread across the other libraries. We find that our holdings are, I think, on average five years old. We would like to have them considerably younger than that so that we meet international benchmarks.

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