ACT News


Public libraries put up stiff defence in battle for the books

WITH their shelves of books, quiet corners and borrower cards, libraries may seem to many of the internet generation to be relics of a by-gone era.

But the ACT's public libraries are defying predictions of their eventual demise, and are reinventing themselves, recording many more visits in the year 2012-13 than they did five years ago.

More than 1,962,700 visits were paid to ACT public libraries in the past financial year, a similar number to 2011-12, when there were 1,963,200 visits, and more than the 1,706,400 recorded in 2007-08.

Libraries ACT director Vanessa Little said more people were using libraries to attend educational programs, children's story time readings and to use public Wi-Fi.

Ms Little said libraries were partnering with Canberra community groups and government agencies to run sessions on health or general interest issues.

An increase in government funding had also ensured Canberra's libraries had up-to-date borrowing collections, she said.


''Libraries have always been about educating, self-education and lifelong learning, finding out what you need to know to make good decisions in your life, that sort of civic citizenship,'' Ms Little said.

''I can't imagine a time when there won't be books, but I can imagine a time when there will be fewer, and we're already seeing that.''

Kim Nguyen, an Australian National University student from Braddon, said she used Civic Library to study and to borrow books and DVDs, and used their Wi-Fi to download study materials.

Ms Nguyen is studying for a master's degree in gender and development and has been living in Canberra for more than two years.

She said she regularly walked to Civic Library because it was convenient and offered good service.

''The staff are very supportive and friendly, and whenever I don't know something, I can ask directly and they're very helpful,'' she said.

The number of visits paid to Gungahlin Library has risen from just 98,000 in 2007-08 to more than 381,000 in the most recent figures, due at least in part to a renovation and integration with Gungahlin College and CIT.