Young at Heart: The heart of our community

I LOVE libraries. I am an unabashed lover of all things “library” and nothing offers me more sanctuary and pleasure than to walk into a library, whether a school or community library. 

I sniff the air like an old dog and my body relaxes. I am home.

Our Bendigo Goldfields Library in its updated refurbished state is sheer wonderment. 

Where do I begin, as I wander in to check out the fiction shelves, the music, the DVDs, the cafe and the open spaces where people meet and children gather for storytelling and activities?

A love of books began for me in a shabby worn class room:  fiction books stored in  musty old cupboards. 

We could take a book home but it had to be returned the next day. How things have changed.

 Let’s hope our schools can continue to maintain school libraries, skilled school librarians and library technicians. 

To become a literate as well as a technological being, students will always need to read and particularly to read fiction. 

Fiction has been my way of understanding our wider world from numerous viewpoints and in a variety of environments. Non-fiction is of equal importance but with a different purpose.

School libraries are such a critical point of entrance for young people to that world of literature. The school library is a pivotal place in the overall function of a school. 

For many students it offers a sanctuary away from the stresses of situations both at home and at school, a haven, a place of relaxation, quiet study, a retreat from the world. 

As the world around them becomes more complex and includes amongst other things the fearful aspects of cyber bullying, the opportunity to read and escape become critical.  Watch a child or teenager become engrossed in a novel. It is magical!

From a school library it is a natural progression to the community library.

How exciting to see the commitment and vision of our Bendigo city council and officers (led by Marg Allan) in acknowledging the importance of the Goldfields Library, in increasing its size substantially while offering an even wider selection of exciting and innovative services. It is a large financial commitment for our Council to continue to fund this wonderful resource, but they obviously recognise that the library is at the heart of our community, its core business, to support it with such passion. 

A library is no longer just about books and print resources, but includes all the technical resources available today: it is the repository of our history, our culture, the very essence which makes us a community.

When I recently visited the Goldfields Library it was alive with people pursuing all manner of interests. 

There was an air of bustling activity, with well informed and extremely helpful staff still educating us all in the new ways of using all these facilities  and various resources. It was like a journey of rediscovery.

I am always drawn to the children’s section of a library because this is where we start the process of this lifelong love of literature – it begins with those first brilliant picture story books, until the day a child says “I want to read this by myself’ and you know you have launched them into the next stage of their development as readers. 

I watched as mothers read quietly to their children, and later watched those same children cheerfully struggling out with large bags of books for the next week’s family reading.

This is a proud and precious inheritance to pass on to subsequent generations. 

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