Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 22 March 2018) . . Page.. 975 ..
A lot of what I was going to say, Ms Lawder has already said. I agree basically with everything she has said, so I will try to make a few different observations. One statistic Ms Lawder missed out is that apparently about 65 per cent of us are members of the ACT library, which is great. The ACT library does some data cleansing every couple of years, so it is not just that you got a library card 10 million years ago and you are still on there. This is a real, living database of people who actually use the library services. Apparently we borrowed more than 2.5 million books last year, which is great.
I am very pleased that Woden, the library in the middle of the electorate of Murrumbidgee, is the most used public library in the ACT. It is probably going to become even more used. The upstairs which, when I was younger, was available for public use—I remember there were books up there—became the Heritage Library. The Heritage Library has got so big that it is moving down to Fyshwick, which will give more space for both the Heritage Library, which is great, and the library in Woden, which will be good from the point of view of an expanded collection and also expanded community use of the library.
One of the things we sometimes forget is that our libraries do things other than just curate books. Ms Lawder talked about their services for homeless people, which I was going to go into. I will not repeat all of that. But there are services not just for homeless people. The ACT Greens Murrumbidgee group currently meets at Woden library in one of the meeting rooms there. It is quite hard to find a meeting room that is not in a licensed club. I am not trying to enter here into the debate about pokies and licensed clubs, but it is really quite hard for anyone who tries to organise meetings to find reasonable locations. I have been to many meetings in many libraries throughout Canberra. This is one of the very valuable services that they provide.
One of the other nice things about Woden, and I am not sure whether this is true for all the other libraries, is that there is a cafe next to the library. There is an interconnecting door. I was brought up to think that you could never bring your drink or food into the library; that was absolutely verboten. But at Woden library, at any rate, you are encouraged to do this. You can get a cuppa or your lunch or you can take your book into the cafe without borrowing it, which is great if you just want to sit down and have a read for a bit. It is a wonderful service.
Another wonderful service is “little libraries”. Some of them are provided by the ACT government. I recently went to the opening of a little library in Wright, which was provided largely by the SLA’s mingle program. There are apparently 27 little libraries in Canberra. I am confident that that is an understatement. That is what the streetlibrary.org.au website says but I am confident that that is undercounting, because I am aware of some little libraries which are not on it.
For those of you who have not had the privilege of interacting with a little library, these are very little libraries. They sometimes in a public space and sometimes, more frequently, on people’s front lawns. The public can access books there. They can take a book; they can bring a book. It is an informal library. There are no library cards and no periods; you borrow a book and, hopefully, return a book too. I think they are absolutely great fun.