Grievance Debate - Mount Gambier Library

Wednesday June 23, 2021

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:56): I rise to congratulate the state government on $20.7 million being committed to our public libraries and also to ask that the issue of indexation be resolved with the LGA so that, in real terms, libraries will not receive less money going forward over the next few years but actually maintain their level of funding.

During this campaign, I have been presented with a number of letters and emails at my office from people in our community who are passionately involved in our local library. It is a real credit to the City of Mount Gambier, which upgraded and spent considerable money a number of years ago transforming the library from what was, when I was growing up, a place that you would go to downstairs in the Civic Centre—it was pretty dark and dingy, and really had no presence at all in our community—to one that overlooks our beautiful cave gardens, is very visual and provides great service to the community of Mount Gambier.

I thank all the people who took the time to write to me indicating what the library meant to them. Of particular note, the staff who work at the library and the ones I have perhaps the most to do with—Terasa Nearmy, Kristi Brooks, Patricia Ellis and Kelly Lynch—do a wonderful job. In fact, there are 12.6 full-time equivalents at the Mount Gambier Library. Over the last year, which was a COVID-affected year, the library still had some pretty impressive numbers running 678 programs with a total of 20,700 participants. If you look at how many people actually go through the centre, it is at about a quarter of a million visitations. Obviously, many of those would be repeats, but a quarter of a million visitations is pretty powerful.

It is not just about books: it is about connection and connecting to communities. A few of the different groups that use our library include the Twisted Threads, government organisations and The Haven, which is a women's information service that supports domestic violence victims. and other programs run foster-parenting information sessions. Local disability groups and others use the space to have pop-up promotions that highlight their services. Our library is regularly attended by special needs students and adults from various schools and organisations. Headspace utilises the great layout and space for programs. All types of demographics within our community are encouraged to utilise the library, as the staff aim for a free, welcoming and socially inclusive space.

Many people who come into our office accessing government services use the internet and computing services of the library, and the great staff—and I have mentioned only a few of the 12.6 FTEs—certainly provide one-on-one, individual support for many in our community who seek their assistance. To wrap up, there are a few quotes that are quite pertinent:

The City of Mount Gambier's public library is such a success story it lives [with] its vision [which is] 'an ever evolving place for ever evolving people'.

Some of the feedback I have received is summed up by this quote:

I love the library, it's my life, I don't know what I would do if we didn't have this wonderful facility.

Many comments and feedback received echoed that, so congratulations to the state government for putting this funding into our libraries. If we can look at the issue of indexation so there is no real loss as the years go by, that would be fantastic.