- "A Living Force" - Dr Alan Bundy
- A short account of some of the lobbying activities of Friends of Castlemaine Library (Focal) - Denise Jepson
- Friend or Foe? The role of Friends Groups in community development - Daniel Ferguson
- Australia at a Turning Point - Hugh Mackay
- Judith Hears Gold - Judith Sheargold
- Penelope Toltz
- Cr Peter Woods OAM, President, Local Govt Association of NSW
- The Cooloola Shire - Rae Webb
- Essential connections: schools, parents and public libraries - Dr Alan Bundy
Cr Peter Woods OAM, President, Local Govt Association of NSW
Before I commence I would like to thank the Caddiegal people for allowing me here today, on their land, to speak to you.
I am here today to discuss the essential ingredient libraries make in the mix of not only social capital but in a humane society. I would like to run some statistics past you in regards to libraries in NSW, to demonstrate the capacity libraries have to facilitate positive social change within our communities
- There are 99 public library services, 283 public library branches and the State Library make a total of 383 service points across the State. The library services include a mixture of independent (or stand alone) library services operated by a single local government council and regional (cooperative) libraries where up to 12 local councils have entered into an agreement to provide a regional service. All local councils in NSW have adopted the Library Act 1939.
- Over 44.5 million items borrowed annually
- Library collections hold 13,585,627 items in their collections
- There are 2,163 staff employed
- 50% of the population are members of public libraries, and many more are regular library users
- NSW.net, the electronic information network linking councils and public libraries throughout the state, now supplements this physical network. NSW.net is providing councils and their communities with affordable access to the Internet and to selected content and services. This makes the Network the most significant publicly accessible independent information infrastnucture in the NSW community.
- At least 15,000 service hours are offered every week through the physical network.
- In 2000 there were over 31 million visits to NSW public libraries and the State Library (an average of 4.8 visits for every person in NSW) and more than 43 million items were lent from collections.
Every citizen has a right to free access to information and resources - this is a basic right. Libraries play a crucial role in ensuring that all Australians -- not just those who can afford it -- have the opportunity to educate themselves further, and helping in making Australia an educated, tolerant, humane society.
Libraries are a wealth of information for the community as a whole; they provide the opportunity for citizens to come together, to learn and to contribute to society as a whole.
Role of libraries and their supportive networks can and will play a vital role in determining how we progress as a society. By increasing our knowledge, we are decreasing our fear, by participating in a community: we are developing that community. We cannot rely on talk back radio and television to be our only sources of information, as we have seen over the past few months. Sometimes those views can be extremely limited and inaccurate - compressed as they are in manageable bites.
We are seeing an increasingly global stranglehold that certain media barons have over our print media and television. The so-called free marketplace of ideas, theoretically accessible to us via the mass media, is becoming increasingly controlled by an elite few.
In Australia, for example, one man -- one international media magnate (and American citizen) - owns almost 70% of our national, metropolitan and suburban newspapers. The vision represented through these media outlets is becoming one dimensional or shortsighted.
Access to information affects our values, our principles and ultimately our opinions. It is access to Information and expanding our knowledge that we can truly understand what is really happening within our communities, whether they be local, regional, national or international.
We know that use of cultural venues such as libraries, museums and galleries is strongly correlated with socioeconomic status, education and employment. We need to change this. It is absolutely vital, for communities to grow both socially and economically, to look at the capacity of libraries to serve the public interest, a public interest which comprises many diverse individual, local, community and sectional interests
Libraries are in the prime position, both as facilitators of information and as community-gathering places, to affect societal attitudes and to develop the most important infrastructure we have, people. For it is that infrastructure that is going to develop us as a society, as a nation.