Goonellabah Public Library. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Goonellabah Public Library. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star Cathy Adams

Residents’ grief over library closure

MORE than 100 Goonellabah residents turned out for a public meeting on Saturday to oppose Lismore City Council's planned closure of the Goonellabah branch library.

Spokeswoman Corena Wynd said people were finding it hard to contain their emotions over the proposed closure.

"There are people who are elderly and disabled and their only outing for the week is to go into that library," Ms Wynd said.

One man who spoke brings a large group of elderly citizens to play cards at the adjacent Goonellabah Community Centre, who then visit the library to borrow items for the week.

A single Goonellabah mum with no car said she relied on the library to give her child some time out from home.

"We're talking about people who are socially isolated - many people don't have computers or the internet, and they rely on the library for those services," Ms Wynd said.

"Considering Aboriginal youth unemployment is a huge issue, and we're trying to get people out of the poverty cycle, this is cutting off an avenue of support."

The group remained adamant that the closure of the library was built on "flawed logic" derived from a community consultation process which didn't warn people about probable cuts.

"The closure of the library was not part of the Imagine Lismore process - they didn't say 'You can revitalise the CBD but some other things have to go'," Ms Wynd said.

"To say we've got to close to the library to pay for Lismore's future is like robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Council has earmarked $350,000 in next year's budget to pay for Imagine Lismore initiatives, $75,000 of which is earmarked for a new social media officer.

The Goonellabah library gets 40,000 visits a year, and going by the $84,000 expected savings from the closure, each visit costs council $2.10.

The group is now expected to lobby council to make the lib-rary's fate a standalone decision, removed from the remaining raft of cuts totalling $1.2 million proposed in the 2013-14 budget.



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