Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3459..
MR PRATT (continuing):
In the absence of the government's figures-shades of the functional review!-I have ascertained from various sources my own information about the library and its performance. If we examine the rate of borrowing at the Griffith library, we will see that the number has not changed dramatically. However, the number of people who reserve books on line has increased over the years. A significant number of people now order their books on line and treat the library as a bit of a takeaway. They phone their orders in and they turn up to the library and take the books away. That is, they do not stay and browse.
So, yes, while the traffic flow through the place in terms of browsing and all those things that people like to do at libraries has declined somewhat over a number of years, the rate of lending has not changed all that dramatically. Indeed, it cannot be argued that the level of borrowing has declined so horrifically to justify the closure of the library.
Information technology will never replace books. People like their books and, in the main, prefer not to download masses of material online if they can borrow that material. A lot of people still like to get their hands on the good old crusty feel of a good book and reference material. They do not always have access to online services and they do not want to look just at an on line display. They like to be able to pick something up and photocopy bits and pieces out of it.
Why would the government pick on a small, but valuable, community facility such as the Griffith library? Why would it not consider alternative staffing arrangements-for example, some of the many library users who might be prepared to volunteer their services? Why not even think about perhaps reducing library hours if the matter is so critical? I still do not think it is all that critical, but have those sorts of options been considered?
Where is the value to the government in the sale or the disposal of this library? Is it in the land or the building? What will become of these premises? What is the grand plan that dictates the government's desire to close this service down that has resulted in a small nut being cracked with a large sledgehammer?
Let me just put to you the opposition's commitment, should we ever become government. I can assure this place and I can assure the community that if the government does go ahead in December with this abominable proposal to close the library, the ACT Liberals in the future will do everything possible to ensure that a decentralised library service is reestablished in the Griffith area to serve the inner south. We commit to the community that if we become the government we will reestablish that service in one way, shape or form. Even if you sell or bulldoze that building, we will look at ways and means of trying to return a service-
Mr Hargreaves: Another 500 grand on top of it.
MR PRATT: to those people in the inner south. I know that you, minister, and the Minister for Health might sit there and laugh about this.
Ms Gallagher: We are not laughing.