Richmond Valley Council plans to improve library services

RICHMOND Valley Council is to develop a five-year plan to improve its limited library service which in 2011/12 ranked in the bottom 10% of libraries in the state, following decades of inadequate funding.

Problems documented at the Richmond-Upper Clarence Regional Library include limited space at the four branches at Casino, Evans Head, Coraki and Kyogle, a lack of adequate programs and an aging IT system.

Public internet is booked out constantly, wi-fi usage has skyrocketed, but is reportedly unreliable and there are complaints about internet speed.

"The community want a modern collection (of) educational programs, modern equipment and longer opening hours," a library staff report to the council noted.

"RURCL has limited capacity to expand existing collections or introduce new formats."

"For children, programs that cater for all ages are paramount and would include baby bounce, kids club, HSC, tutoring and after-school homework programs."

Despite its limitations, the lib- rary is used by more than 51% of the local population registered compared to the minimum NSW Library standards of 44%.

Improvements earmarked for the service include upgrading the service's digital collection, expanding the programs on offer and boosting IT systems.

Next year the council pans to merge the Evans Head library into the council customer service branch next door, which will extend the library's opening hours.

The service will also apply for a grant for a new mobile library to be introduced in 2014/15.

Richmond Valley general manager John Walker agreed the library needed modernisation.

But he pointed out the service had a strong satisfaction rating with existing users.

"The difficulty for council is they are competing for funds with other council services and infrastructure that also have funding backlogs," Mr Walker said.

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