Library closure is inexplicable

Forum –

I am writing to express my dismay at the proposed closure of The Entrance Public Library and Council Service Centre (Chronicle Apr 7).

What is astounding is that there is no rationale presented about why the community is to lose this much valued service.

We all know that Council is making cost savings, but why this service in this location?

How does it fit in with the growing population and addressing the needs of this highly disadvantaged and rapidly growing community?

How does it facilitate a post Covid return to community engagement and the pursuit of life long learning?

According to the population projections on Council’s website, the Entrance District population is expected to grow by 17.21 percent between 2021 and 2036.

On these projections The Entrance will need a bigger library, not its closure.

The library service was not one of the areas which grew exponentially since amalgamation and yet it is being targeted for a significant reduction in accessible services.

The library and other services are essential to many in this community.

It is the service that most frequently gets high ratings in any customer satisfaction survey of Council services.

Having worked for many years in this district, I know that The Entrance has one of the highest levels of transport disadvantage on the Coast, with great reliance on local services and a very limited public transport system.

Online services are great for many of us, however, not everyone finds the online world easy to use.

Digital skills and ability vary dramatically by age and income.

Engaging, learning and working in today’s digital world calls for new skills and new competencies, all supported through access to free resources and activities at the library.

No doubt, visits to the library have been reduced as a result of Covid restrictions, however, it would be premature to suggest that these will not return when it becomes safer to do so.

Rather than close the branch, it would be a good time to look at how the service could be improved.

One option would be to co-locate the library and service centre within the Entrance Community Centre.

This would enable renewal and greatly increase opportunities for community engagement, lifelong learning and collaboration.

Such a permanent presence would increase the viability of the whole site and help contribute to many of Council’s strategic goals, as well as enable the eventual sale or other use of the existing commercial building.

In 2019/20, the state government recognised the value of local libraries by providing a $60M four-year funding package to support Council libraries on a per capita basis.

Where is Central Coast Council’s commitment?

Email, Apr 14
Sue Ellis, Umina Beach