Just days after Goonellabah library received a reprieve, libraries continue to be in the spotlight as local councils look to trim their budgets.
Yesterday Byron Shire councillors shied away from staff plans to shorten hours at both the Brunswick Heads branch and the brand new state-of-the-art Byron Bay Library.
But they have called for alternative recommendations to save some $65,000.
The staff recommendation was to shut Brunswick Heads Library altogether on Saturdays and close the doors at Byron Bay two hours earlier on Thursday evenings.
Councillors yesterday approved an allocation of $1,106,600, which includes an indexation on last year’s costs plus additional staffing costs associated with the opening of the new library.
But they have asked staff to go back to the drawing board in their attempts to find savings.
Some options put to staff to consider include closing the doors an hour earlier each day and a freeze on the collection and other resource spending.
Councillors left on the table the option of closing Byron Bay Library two hours earlier on Thursday evenings but the proposal to shut Brunswick branch altogether on Saturday has been scrapped.
The Richmond Tweed Regional Library Committee has also been asked to consider revenue-raising options such as charging for wi-fi and potential charges for non-members.
A library funding report will be presented to council in August and mayor Simon Richardson said any impacts on reduced opening hours and how it would affect communities would be closely scrutinised.
‘Libraries are an essential service and are often of vital importance to groups in our community that are most vulnerable.
‘People access our libraries to socialise, connect, learn and even apply for jobs when using the computer services.
‘Plus if you work, it’s hard to get to a library on a weekday for either yourself or your children,’ Mayor Richardson said.