Visits to the library with the kids are fun times for all families. The delight on young faces when they select books that excite them is infectious. Older generations love libraries because they're an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life and on the shelves are thousands of books that stimulate their imaginations or thirst for knowledge. The sense of achievement researchers experience when they find a key fact is fulfilling.
Libraries are all things to all people.
Warrnambool's library as we know it will be transformed into a learning hub in a couple of years after the state government last year allocated $16.3 million to a joint library being established between the city council and South West TAFE. The council will tip in $3.12million and TAFE $830,000.
The expectations are the facility, to be built on the TAFE campus, will become a community hub. The vision is exciting; it won't be anything like what the existing library is today. But at what cost?
Today we revealed the cost of Warrnambool's library to the council (read ratepayers) has jumped more than 70 per cent in the past six years. Patronage is down. Last financial year ratepayers subsidised the library to the tune of almost $1 million.
Cr Peter Hulin is questioning why.
He is also questioning the need for the new facility and the $3.12 million that ratepayers will fork out.
Residents have made it clear they have had enough of rising rates, especially after the council received permission to lift them above the state government regulated cap. Every dollar spent needs to be critically examined by the council - are ratepayers getting bang for their bucks?
What does the financial plan for the new library look like? Will council's contribution cost more than now? Will TAFE pick up the tab? Who will employ staff, the council or TAFE? What happens to the Corangamite Regional Library Corporation, which currently runs the city library along with others across the region through funds from councils? There are plenty of questions but no answers yet. No doubt the details are being worked on. But it's time the community was brought into the fold.