The Bendigo library is replacing its fleet of trucks which service the region’s towns with bricks-and-mortar “agencies”, but so far sites for the new services have yet to be found in Elmore, Axedale and Goornong.
The Goldfields Library Corporation plans to take the trucks off the road by December and staff the new centres with volunteers (with help from library staff), but some residents have expressed concerns about the move.
Elmore resident Marilyn Morrell said the decrease from the 25,000 books available on the truck to the 2500 to 3000 available under the new system would have a big impact on the residents who use the service.
“You don’t only use a library to read novels, it’s also there if you want to find out things, it’s a reference, it’s all sorts of things,” she said.
“I use the internet like everybody else but there’s nothing like actually researching something and looking something up in a book.”
For Ms Morrell, the decision is just another example of what she sees as decreasing prioritisation of smaller towns.
“What I was really quite wild about was there was no community consultation, we were told what was going to happen,” she said.
“If we’re not careful we’ll end up with nothing, I can see it two years down the road there’ll be no library.”
The GLC’s acting CEO Mark Hands said collections at each of the seven agency sites would be smaller than the truck, but the library corporation’s capacity to deliver reserves and for people to pick them up and drop them off would improve.
He said the GLC was also looking at ways to offer access to technology, just as the truck offered computer access.
But Lorraine Gunn, who uses the mobile library truck every week when it rolls into Axedale, is worried there will be a smaller selection of books, DVDs and other products.
Mrs Gunn also believes finding free space in a town as small as Axedale would be a problem, and finding volunteers to help run the agencies could also be tricky.
“In places like Axedale volunteers will wear two or three different hats, and many are getting on in years,” she said.
Mr Hands said a number of Axedale premises were being considered and he expected one to be chosen by the end of the month.
He said the same went for Elmore and Wedderburn, while sites had been found in Boort, Dingee, Inglewood and Tarnagulla.
“Having real discussions with community groups and considering sites properly takes time and although we want to keep it all moving, it’s been important to give reasonable consideration to all options,” he said.
He said if there were no initial volunteers, agencies would be open the same number of hours that the truck currently provided.
“There is no obligation for Axedale or any town to provide volunteers if they don’t want to,” he said.
“The agencies are an open opportunity to generate interest from new volunteers and we are happy to start small and build from there.”