Page 972 - Week 03 - Thursday, 22 March 2018

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Discussion of matter of public importance

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ms Cody): Madam Speaker has received letters from Ms Cheyne, Ms Cody, Mr Hanson, Ms Lawder, Ms Lee, Ms Orr, Mr Pettersson and Mr Steel proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Madam Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Ms Lawder be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:

The importance of libraries in the ACT.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (3.39): I am very pleased to speak about libraries today and the importance of libraries in the ACT. Without wishing to pre-empt any of the discussion, I imagine it is going to be one of those times where we are all in furious agreement about the importance of this particular topic and their place in their community.

We have nine branch public libraries and the ACT Heritage Library. There are a number of school libraries and of course we have the parliamentary libraries located here in the ACT. Our branch libraries are Belconnen, Civic, Dickson, Erindale, Gungahlin, Kingston, Kippax, Tuggeranong and Woden. They vary in size: large ones such as Gungahlin, medium ones such as Belconnen and small ones like Kingston. As far back as 1913 we started library services in the ACT, originally as part of the National Library of Australia and then from 1935 a lending service from a building erected on Kings Avenue.

Our total physical book collection is just under 564,000 books. In a large library like Gungahlin there are about 60,700 books. A medium library like Belconnen may have more or fewer, and a small library will have many fewer, perhaps 10,000 to 15,000 books. In 2016-17, 1,815,010 physical loans were undertaken, and 380,653 electronic loans. The total number of e-books the library holds is 13,273. They also have nearly 7,000 e and audio books. These e-books and audio books allow for accessibility, because they are searchable and downloadable on the library webpage and the mobile app. They allow accessibility for people who may not be able to physically attend a library or choose not to physically attend a library, but this does require that they use some form of technology in order to access them. Libraries also provide computer equipment for the public to use. There are 89 computers; there are 15 at Gungahlin, 14 at Belconnen and five at Kingston. ACT libraries subscribe to 37 databases.

Libraries, of course, are much more than books. They provide services to a wide range of different demographics within our population. An example not everyone may have thought of is the services they provide to people who may be experiencing homelessness. They can be comfortable spaces to be in during the day where it is warm and dry and they do not have to purchase anything in order to stay there. They have access to the library collection to give them things to do during the day. They can also potentially access information about homelessness support services. Over the

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