Community fights to save Guildford Library

Lianda Gibson with Piper, Karen Baldwin with Emma, Claire Scanlon with Cosette, and Mary Longdon. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d471985
Lianda Gibson with Piper, Karen Baldwin with Emma, Claire Scanlon with Cosette, and Mary Longdon. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d471985

THE Guildford community is mobilising once again, protesting against a report that will be presented to City of Swan councillors on Wednesday evening detailing plans to close the Guildford library.

Guildford Association president Barbara Dundas claimed that over the past three years the City of Swan had run a noticeable campaign to remove books and children’s services at the library.

“Story times for young children were rescheduled in the afternoon, a time unsuitable for young children,” she said.

“Then with reduced numbers, children’s story time and all holiday activities were ceased.

“These actions seemed to be reducing library materials and membership.”

Ms Dundas said while the association supported the retention of the library, there was a need for it to be viable.

“We ask that we be given a period of grace,” she said.

“It would seem desirable to have a community-based committee to ascertain the needs of this community and if the library can achieve these ends.

“Library services are changing, however let’s see if the community can work with the City to reinvigorate our library, which is one of the oldest in WA.”

Cr David Fardig requested a report be provided to the council by the end of September detailing a plan to close the Guildford library and propose potential alternative uses for the facility.

An officer’s report said Guildford remained the only City of Swan library that had not grown rapidly since 2009 in membership and usage.

“This initiated a reduction in resources and opening hours over time in an effort to ensure equity of allocation of resources to areas of greater need,” the report said.

“In 2015, the delivery of a 12-month plan in an attempt to revitalise the library through the introduction of innovative programs and activities was endorsed.

“This included a dedicated professional to work full time in and on the Guildford Library, doubling the number of resources to loan, opening the library to coincide with community events such as the Guildford Heritage Festival and weekend markets, coupled with consistent opening hours.

“At the end of this period, usage actually decreased, demonstrating that the Guildford Library is not sustainable as a small stand-alone branch.”

However, Guildford Family Playgroup community liaison officer Claire Scanlan said closing the library would be disastrous for the community.

“The library is under-utilised, but that is because it has chaotic opening hours and a depleted collection,” she said.

“The library needs reinventing to suit our current needs, and needs the community to drive this change.”

Guildford resident Lianda Gibson said the community had not been consulted over the potential closure of the library.

“I recall a survey being sent through electronic channels some time ago, but beyond this, there has been little true engagement,” she said.

“The City can and should do better, especially with an active, community such as Guildford who welcome and embrace good community engagement.”