Extreme Libraries

Mt Gambier Library entrance

Mount Gambier Library in South Australia is a new shiny purpose built, state of the art, no expense spared library. It opens on 17th December 2009. I was fortunate to visit this week to attend a library seminar held there. The new building is completed but the beautiful new timber shelves were bare, silently waiting for the new stock to arrive. Contractors and technicians were finishing the main desk, installing the security gates at the entry, and other little last minute jobs. The technology is state of the art with numerous flat screen TVs, fully implemented RFID, a light bright work room with all the tools of the trade and space to spread out, meeting rooms with smart boards, mini cinema areas, a cafe, and the most amazing cave that is the children’s area.

Mt Gambier Library

The seminar was titled Best Sellers. Paul Brown from Manukau Libraries in New Zealand presented an interesting, useful and thought-provoking session on Reader Advisory services in libraries. He reminds us that this is indeed the core business of public libraries and I applaud him for this focus.

By contrast, just 78 kilometres away, I visited the Digby Library as part of the outreach services maintained by the Glenelg Libraries in Victoria. This tiny old dusty collection of yellowed books is held in an old Mechanics Institute building. We replaced the small stock of new library books and materials for the local farming community. Outside in the dusty carpark we struggled to get a signal to connect to the internet to make the data upload/download. Meanwhile the sun beat down, sweat dripped from our foreheads, and the horses and goats looked with bored indifference.

Digby library

This outreach service goes to small community centres in Heywood and Casterton, a Bush Nursing Hospital in Merino, a local shop in Dartmoor, and the Mechanics Institute Hall in Digby.

Two libraries close together geographically, but as extremely apart from each other as is possible in our society.