More than 900 sign petition to save Goonellabah library
THE SPECTRE of Goonellabah library closing its doors has continued to inspire community action with a petition against the closure delivered to Lismore City Council chambers yesterday with 904 signatures.
A motion from Cr Isaac Smith urging that alternative savings be found to enable payment of the library's $84,500 annual costs will go before council on Tuesday night.
Cr Gianpiero Battista said the group was confident that next week's council meeting would vote in favour of keeping the library open.
"For a small budget of $84,000, for what it does for the community, it's worth it," Cr Battista said.
"Libraries are transforming themselves into more than just books. They're becoming community hubs.
"There must be another way of saving the money."
Goonellabah is one of the largest residential areas in the region and ABS statistics show it is Lismore's population growth engine. Between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, Goonellabah's population grew by 2.9% to 12,500 residents, almost 30% of the total 43,000 residents of the Lismore local government area.
The Lismore LGA grew by less than 0.7% in the same period and the Lismore urban area excluding Goonellabah (Lismore Heights, North, South, and East Lismore) grew at just 0.35% (to just over 16,000 residents).
Of the four LGAs in the Richmond-Tweed Regional Library network, Lismore is the only council to run only two libraries - Goonellabah and the Lismore CBD - compared to three each in Ballina, Byron, and Tweed.
Helen Sandstrom has regularly attended "baby bounce" sessions at Goonellabah library for the past three years with her now five-year-old son Arlen.
"He had a nice introduction to books because of those sessions in Goonellabah. It's a really welcoming atmosphere and the librarians were absolutely fantastic," Ms Sandstrom said.
"People in Goonellabah are generally not on high incomes and libraries for that reason are all the more important - they're giving kids access to free books and encouraging literacy."