Saturday, 14 May 2011

Change on the books for Newcastle libraries

From The Herald...


LOCAL libraries could be closed and sold under Newcastle City Council's 10-year financial plan, which proposes spending $43 million to build three new multi-purpose libraries.

Under the council's 10-year-plan, which is on public exhibition, libraries at New Lambton, Stockton and Beresfield would be rebuilt or relocated with money raised from land rates increases.

The central Newcastle library in Laman Street would also be expanded.

But concerns have been raised that building the new multi-purpose facilities would likely lead to the closure of several of the city's smaller libraries.

The closures of Adamstown, Hamilton and Lambton libraries have been discussed internally, and a briefing document suggests the council expects to ultimately make $2 million from the sale of old library assets.

Newcastle councillor Michael Osborne described the plans as "crude and simplistic" and said he opposed the closure of any local libraries.

"It totally ignores the community that [attends] these libraries. A lot of people use Adamstown and Hamilton [libraries]."

The council emphasised yesterday that specific proposals for the city's libraries had not been finalised.

Future city director Judy Jaeger said the council wanted to build on the success of the Wallsend library, which moved to a new and larger building in 2006.

Ms Jaeger said book loans were up 166 per cent after the move.

"When you have a multi-purpose facility that has a meeting space, an exhibition space, people will use it," she said.

She said any decisions about libraries would be a matter for councillors.

Cr Osborne said the council should be looking at options such as working with the private sector or other council departments to revitalise the existing libraries.

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