“It’s easy to be blasé about reading and books – easy to take them for granted. Yet when I think about it, reading to me is the key to so much. The key to a wider reach of information, a path to learning, the joy of entertainment and the exciting of the imagination. It’s just so much fun.” William Mc Innes,
With the school holidays upon us I decided to take on board William McInnes’ enthusiasm for literature and visit the new local library and get out some holiday reading with my teenage daughter. Over the past couple of years there has been lots of hype and bad press over the closure of several local libraries by the Moreton Bay Regional Council and the formation of one large super library complex at North Lakes because they believed that they had little potential for future growth.
I have to admit that while I have watched the construction of this massive building, I had no idea of what was inside. I had been put off you could say by the traffic, the lack of parking and quite frankly the hassle of borrowing a book in this new super structure. It seemed a much easier option to simply buy one when I need or wanted one for a holiday read; however, I now have a daughter with a veracious appetite for books and my bank balance can’t keep up with her desire to work her way through multiple series of novels.
Unfortunately, in her hast to leave school this term she forgot to go via the library. While I was subconsciously pleased not to have the lounge room floor looking like a book depository slot after a group of primary students had fled the scene, I have been wondering how long before she would start pestering me to purchase a paperback. So after a wet weekend of discussing the pros and cons of reading books on line I have given in to the fear of the unknown and braved the ‘super structure’.
The new $45 million library at North Lakes has been highly publicised and with the school holidays here the library staff have been hard at work advertising a wide range of activities for students in addition to their normal fare. The council is increasingly trying to bring people to the site and to create a community feel and connection to the library. Their mantra is that the library is no longer just a place to borrow out a book – it’s a place to learn, receive help with homework and research as well as build relationships. In addition to numerous early literacy programs, clubs and classes the library now also provides a service access point for disabled people in the community.
As we entered the building the space took on a cathedral like quality. Beautiful architecture, groovy fittings, tasteful art work, technology spaces and thousands upon thousands of books! My daughter gasped, I paused, and then we entered this sacred space!
As we spent time moseying around reading the dust jackets, pausing here and there in the lush arm chairs, it wasn’t the layout or the library’s content that wowed… it was the staff who introduced themselves to us. They were genuinely interested in ensuring we were happy and found what we wanted. To start with we were taken on a brief tour of the facility and quickly taken through the process of joining and getting a library card. Now armed with the means to borrow up to 20 books, it was off the shelves!
On route we happened to come across several posters for workshops for teens being held in the holidays. Several grabbed my daughter’s interest – developing a digital comic in just 2 hrs, Pokemon Go Dojo and building a gaming app. What is even more amazing is that participation in these workshops is FREE you just need to register and be a local library member. I was so impressed with the library’s desire to engage with such a challenging age group and find ways to lure in the local teens with popular culture exploits. Looks like next week’s entertainment is now sorted if she finishes reading the mountain of books I found her carrying.
As we headed home I was secretly pleased that I was not out of pocket hundreds of dollars for the books and that I was facilitating her love of literature and after signing up for a workshop assisting her with her digital literacy as well. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (2013) argue that parents should support children on their learning journey by encouraging them to ‘read anything and everything’. They explain that their research has shown that a child’s motivation to read decreases with age. This is a pretty scary concept when it is combined with Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS 2012) data which points to nearly half of Australia’s adult population lacking minimum literacy skills. For adults in this category reading for pleasure may not be possible and it means that they simply are unable to partaking in one of life’s great pleasures – a ‘good read’. Frighteningly it also means that they may be unable to access information and knowledge to find suitable employment or undertake basic tasks.
The fact that this library is working so hard to support and encourage not only a love of literature but community engagement is a wonderful thing…….. So I am only too happy to make this trip to the local library again now that we are both hooked!
If you haven’t visited your local library in a while, I highly recommend you do!
ABC (2014). Community Correspondent: Narangba and Kallangur Libraries Closing. Retrieved: http://blogs.abc.net.au/queensland/2014/07/community-correspondent-narangba-and-kallangur-libraries-closing.html