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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 22 March 2018) . . Page.. 976 ..

One of the other great things about the ACT library service is that it is really moving with the times, as Ms Lawder has said. It is using IT really well. You can reserve online, you can see a list of new books online and, of course, you can get audio books and e-books. These are things that five or 10 years ago no-one would have thought our libraries would do.

I think that libraries in Australia started off largely as mechanics institutes. All the older towns and villages of Australia have mechanics institutes, which were designed to increase learning, the dissemination of information and community life. Libraries have followed on from that.

Ms Lawder mentioned giggle and wiggle, which is one of the ACT libraries’ most loved and most popular programs. I contemplated a recommendation in the estimates report last year that this should be better funded, but it was felt that it was not appropriate to single out one particular program like this. It is a well-loved and massively over-subscribed service of the ACT libraries.

Being a Canberra resident, I should note that the ACT government is only one of the many providers of libraries here. We are very lucky. We have Australia’s premier library: the National Library. As we all know, every book published in Australia has to give a couple of copies to the National Library. We could not be much luckier than to have that in the middle of our city. We also have a lot of universities, and every university has one library or, as in the case of ANU many libraries. And there are the school libraries, which are also great, although unfortunately generally not accessible to the public unless you happen to be a student at that particular school.

It is great that we are talking about libraries. They are a wonderful part of our communal life. I wish that they will continue to grow and prosper and that we can all enjoy them.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (3.57): I thank Ms Lawder for bringing this matter of public importance to the Assembly. I think she is right that this is something we can all agree on: the importance of libraries in the ACT. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to talk about some of the great work that our wonderful ACT libraries do with our community, and I would particularly like to take time to highlight their work with children and young people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members and our multicultural community.

Libraries host regular visits from schools, childcare centres, disability groups, and community and social groups, as well as, of course, conducting outreach visits. As members would be aware, we are fortunate to have three child and family centres in the ACT, located in Gungahlin, Tuggeranong and west Belconnen. Child and family centres offer free services and support to families during the important early years of a child’s life. And child and family centres work closely with Libraries ACT on a range of programs, activities and events for children.

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