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Byron Shire
June 23, 2024

Save the regional library

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The move to form the Richmond Tweed Regional Library (RTRL) was made some 37 years ago and over the intervening years this service committee grew it from being one of the worst regional libraries in the state to one of the biggest and best.

This largely occurred during the period of about 12 years when Martin Field was the director. All four constituent councils had expressed their satisfaction with its operation. Lismore City Council was the executive council under this old agreement and took an overseeing role in its operations by being represented at most of its meetings.

I personally had over 28 years experience on the RTRL Committee, eight as its president.

I can say without fear of contradiction that the RTRL functioned extremely well under Martin’s direction.

In June 2010, the former GM of LCC took the unprecedented step to ‘sack’ the committee and announce that from that date the LCC would be taking over all of the operations of the RTRL.

Nothing under the old and still existing legal agreement provided for this drastic action.

This amazing turn of events resulted in Martin Field being put in such an untenable position that he had little choice but to resign; the services being delivered have taken a nosedive; a draft agreement drafted by Lismore’s solicitor being drawn up, which gave it vastly more power and which Byron and Ballina Councils have refused to sign; library staff, all of whom have been taken onto the strength of Lismore CC, being left in the position of having to go to their union to get a decision on remuneration rates and back pay; reduced bookstock; fewer loans and severely depleted reserves that had been carefully and efficiently accumulated by Martin Field and the committee over some 12 years.

Over the ensuing 18 months since the ‘sacking’, the position of the RTRL has gone from bad to worse, so much so that a committee has been formed under the title of ‘Save the RTRL’ to fight this issue and unscramble this mess.

To their credit the new state government quickly amended the ancient State Library Act 1939 to overcome the perceived problem that LCC had with the old agreement, so there is now no excuse for a new agreement being reached by all four councils to allow the Richmond-Tweed Regional Library Committee to be re-instated and allowed to claw back the level of excellence that it had previously attained.

Max R Boyd AM, president, Save the RTRL Committee

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