Library users hit with new charges

Saskia AdystiGreat Southern Herald

Kojonup Library co-ordinator Lorreen Greeuw says there will be many regulars who will be greatly affected by new cost-cutting measures across regional libraries.

Patrons in regional towns are now limited to only two inter-library loan requests a month.

New releases are no longer available for inter-library loan and any items requested from outside the WA public library system will incur a minimum charge of $16.50.

“Once again, people in rural Australia are being stomped on — because not everybody in here has access to e-readers,” Ms Greeuw said.

These changes came about after a review of the inter-library loan system found WA with the highest volume of inter-library loans in Australia, even with other States having bigger populations.

The majority of WA country town libraries exist in remote locations where there is no other means for the local community to access books and DVDs.

Ms Greeuw is grateful for the number of donations from the community to the Kojonup library, however even with its current collection, the library is still struggling to cater to customers’ reading genre preferences and habits.

To fill these gaps, the majority of country town libraries have to borrow items from other libraries in the State.

“If you’re a big reader and that’s what you’re capable of doing because you’re retired, you can read up to five to six books a week, Ms Greeuw said.

“It doesn’t take long to out-read your local country library.”

Katannning Library co-ordinator Jess Hagley said she was also devastated when she first heard about the cuts but she acknowledged local libraries had to develop to survive.

“Libraries have to evolve and find alternative ways of doing things,” she said.

“Katanning Shire has been a great help to our local library, so we’re pretty lucky in that regard.

“We have a book purchasing budget so we can try and extend our own collections, but a lot of these small libraries don’t get that kind of support.”

These library cuts will be reviewed by the State Government at the end of its six-month trial period.

Feedback given during the trial will be used to evaluate the success of the trial to consider whether any changes are required.

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