“There is no intention to downgrade the facility.”
MidCoast Council’s manager libraries, Chris Jones, was very clear in his statement about the future of Gloucester Library.
With the State Government merger of the three councils, Gloucester, Greater Taree and Great Lakes, services are under review as per the requirements of the merger, and libraries are no exception.
“Council is looking at the future of Gloucester’s library,” Mr Jones said.
They have lodged a grant application for a major refurbishment involving new shelving, furniture, a meeting room and a revamp of the collection.
Mr Jones said the future of libraries is about making a space for people to spend time. “A movement from book places to people spaces,” he said.
He spoke about computers, internet access and working space, to reduce the overcrowding and making the library a location for people to enjoy.
Council’s looking to remove books from the shelves that aren’t being borrowed to make room for new stock. The goal is to make the shelves more visually appealing and make it easier to see the collection available.
According to Mr Jones, Gloucester Library holds double the books per capita than the other 10 libraries in the region.
He explained how the trend for Gloucester is to have more books ordered in for borrowing than are taken from the shelves and they’re trying to find the right balance.
The future is to merge all three systems from the former council areas, and getting them to work together will take time.
There will be a floating collection, unlike Newcastle which Gloucester is currently apart of, that has a fixed collection – meaning, when someone needs a book that isn’t held at Gloucester, it‘s ordered in, then when it’s returned, it’s sent back, requiring freight in both directions.
With a floating collection, the books stay where they are returned until borrowed again.
Although the MidCoast libraries many not hold as many books as the Newcastle network, Mr Jones believes the vast amount of need can be covered by the MidCoast collection. But if the book you are after can’t be sourced through the collection, the staff can try to find it through inter-library loans, at a fee.
Mr Jones said there are a few advantages for Gloucester residents, with the fees for overdue loans and reservations disappearing once the transition is complete.
“Please bear with us during the transition for access to the entire collection as this may involve multiple system until fully merged,” he said.
“If the need can’t be found in the collection, we are open to community suggestions.”