Local fury at imminent closure of Barwon Heads Community Library

Members of the Barwon Heads Community rallied at the City of Greater Geelong on Wednesday 26 April in a desperate attempt to prevent closure of the Barwon Heads Library.

It would appear the decision was a foregone conclusion with the meeting merely for ceremonial approval. With little or no notice provided to the community that the future of the Barwon Heads Library was even in question, let alone that the important decision to close the library was due to take place at the April Council meeting; a last minute effort to rally community members to attend the meeting was arranged through social media, primary school parents and the Barwon Heads Association, with many residents completely unaware of the issue looming over the community.

During the Council meeting residents were informed that this vital resource will be shut due to financial constraints because the City feels further investment in library resources is required in growth areas (i.e. not Barwon Heads) despite the rapid growth of Armstrong Creek near the town. The Council claimed to calculate this decision based on libraries which have the least visits per hour, loans per hour, internet sessions per PC and collections turnover in the library network. The Council’s calculations did not take into account that the Barwon Heads library is open for a total of 13 hours, (on 4 days each week). They also did not take into account that the library doubles as the primary school library, which necessarily will suffer upon closure.

Additionally, the Council claimed Barwon Heads is close to other library branches – the nearest being Ocean Grove or Central Geelong. However, they did not take into account the limited public transport options (an hourly bus service Mon-Fri; two hourly on weekends) and demographic of the BH population. Nor apparently did they take into account the much higher rates paid by residents in this area, compared with the “growth areas” they are looking to service.

Completely disregarding the protests from the gallery at the meeting, including the pertinent reasons raised by community members for requiring access to books and information, the Council made the decision to close the library on 30 September instead of June, to allow Council to “…understand and provide suitable transition and support arrangements to the community.” Their main concern in “transition and support arrangements” seemed to be about creating further meeting spaces in Barwon Heads for young mothers; and they chose to ignore comments on access for the elderly, disabled or people unable to drive; let alone the most important point, that the community wants access to BOOKS.

While local residents who are library members were neither informed that the library potentially was to be closed, nor that the Council was meeting on 26 April to make the decision official; a members’ newsletter sent out the week after the decision announced that “…we will write to affected members directly with details of this consultation process.”

Community anger is rising in this normally happy seaside town at the city-centric decision making process, with locals disgusted that such a high rate paying area should be thus penalised. With local resident and member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson already on side, the people of Barwon Heads have vowed not to give up on trying to save this valuable educational and community resource.

If you are interested in becoming involved or would like to be kept informed, please join the Facebook page “Save Barwon Heads Community Library”.

Click here for the Letter to CoGG Administrators

Click here for the Petition BH Library

Click here for the Community Rally Speech – 19th June 2017

Click here for the Final Speech for Rally

Click here for the Submission to City of Greater Geelong – Request to change the decision to close Barwon Heads Community Library