'Consultant' needed to help council form future of libraries
AN INDEPENDENT consultant will be brought in by the Ipswich City Council to help decide how to manage its libraries.
For more than one decade councillors have struggled to set a direction for the city's libraries, with growth in satellite areas like Ripley booming.
To set a direction, councillors this week voted to "engage an independent industry consultant” to conduct a review of the Ipswich Library and Information Service Coping with Growth 2008-2026 strategy.
Committee chair David Pahlke said the strategy had initially identified four large libraries for the region.
"There's always going to be those Rosewood, Ripley, Springfield and CBD libraries,” he said.
"There's never enough dollars.”
With those additional libraries coming online, the plan was to close smaller libraries like Redbank Plains - a decision councillors have largely reversed their views on.
Cr Pahlke said it "libraries aren't just books anymore”, but the council needed to revisit how many libraries it had and the size of them.
"We have to revisit the whole strategy,” he said.
"I've got an open mind on it but at the end of the day, if you start putting extra things in, it's dollars.
"We've been trying to address that by making those super libraries.”
He said the consultant would ensure the process was "independent and not politically influenced”.
"I want a proper community consultation and I've already said it better not be just online,” he said.
"It has to be paper-based as well and asking real questions.
"This review could take six months.”
Rosewood is the only new library which has received State Government funding - $2.4 million.
The council is also investigating a new library pod concept.
"It will either go at Karalee or Ripley,” he said.
The self-contained unit will be built at a shopping centre and provide a small offering of books.
"Ripley Town Centre: Ripley has already been identified in the long-term growth plan for the library service, a library pod would supplement the mobile library stop (the highest growth stop in the schedule) at Providence South Ripley,” a council report said.
"It would add an additional library presence for this growing community in preparation for the establishment of a branch in this area in the future, thereby aligning to the current rate of demand.”