By Tania Martin
HILLS residents have proved the art of reading hasn’t died after they borrowed more than 6500 books within eight days of the new Emerald Library opening its doors.
The library opened to the public last month, but Minister for Local Government Candy Broad officially opened the new $2.4 million facility last Thursday.
She said Hills residents will now be able borrow books, study or research using the internet or just relax and read a magazine.
Ms Broad said the State Government believes all Victorians deserve access to decent library services.
She said the Emerald Library was jointly funded by Cardinia Shire Council and the State Government, with the shire allocating $1.9 million and the government $500,000.
The Emerald Library replaced the mobile service which visited the town for 10 hours a week for more than 10 years.
In the past 10 years the mobile service had more than 260,000 visits and would see an average of 500-600 people per week.
And within eight days of the new library opening, more than 6500 books were lent out to local residents compared to the average of 65,000 books lent out by the mobile library each year.
Ranges Ward councillor Ed Chatwin said the influx of people borrowing books from the library had proved the facility was needed.
Cr Chatwin said the opening of the library was the culmination of many residents actively petitioning the council for a library.
He said it was made possible by the partnership formed with the local community, the council and the State Government.
“This area could easily be the greatest book reading area in the shire, which has been proven by the amount of books that were borrowed within days of opening,” he said.
The new library has more than 17,000 items to borrow from children’s books to large print books and non-fiction books and magazines.
Also featuring internet access, the library has six public computers and has room for more computers to be added in the future.
Gembrook MP Tammy Lobato said the new library would strengthen the local community. Ms Lobato said for many years the mobile library had met the needs of the local community but services such as internet access were limited.
“The new facilities will improve study for students of all ages and the extra opening hours and large collection of loan items means that there will always be something for everyone,” she said.
Ms Lobato said the opening of the library was a testament to all the local residents who lobbied for the facility.
By Tania Martin