A word from outgoing Myli Community Advisory Committee (CAC) chair – Wombat Lyons
Nine years of volunteering with the local library have shown me just how important the local library is. Living in Trafalgar, my volunteering was not jumping on the mobile library and helping with the re-shelving, but I volunteered to a committee that over those nine years, and for many before and hopefully many beyond, has fearlessly advised the full board and management of the library on the needs, wants, and wishes of the community.
The community advisory committee has changed its shape, its meeting and name over time, but its purpose has been clear, to look at budgets and agenda items heading to board meetings and advise, at a grassroots level; does this give our communities the best from the library? We have undertaken that work under the normal pressures on local government services as well as during periods like rate capping introduction and the height of the COVID 19 Pandemic.
But what this volunteering has taught me, is that we have an amazing library service, one to be proud of, one that can hold its head up high in the state and one that has valued the user’s voice. In a period where many regional libraries scaled back to just one or two large central hubs, our service remembered the value of local, and the value of the networks and relationships between a community and the local branch of a library be it static or mobile.
Our staff are amazing at the library, in my time of volunteering there have been at least six who have driven the Northern Mobile service. Put aside how impressive it is that they get that amazing beast of a truck up the hills to Thorpdale, Willow Grove, and Nyora; what I love is that they know their users. If a Yarragon Primary school student visits and needs a recommendation, these guys know that users taste and have two or three picks ready to drop into the reading bag. It’s not just the young, most users at the Trafalgar stop are twice my age, but the team always make sure a good range of authors or DVDs is on shelf to meet the tastes of the browsers.
I’ve watched as staff have gone beyond putting on event programs with the National Youth Week programming that turned into the Meet Up events as a fantastic example of staff interest areas being taken and explored across the full scope of our library service, not just one local government area.
As a CAC volunteer, I have seen libraries upgraded and improved, the new principal library at Wonthaggi opening was an exciting day but equally, I felt the same seeing the upgrades at Drouin. Just before stepping back from volunteering this year, I got to see the improvements at Mirboo North, and they are well worth a peek if you are passing one day.
Our upgraded libraries, our new libraries, and the proposed libraries to come all hold up against those across Victoria I got to visit in my volunteering. Okay, we may not have the automatic book lifts of Dandenong or the recording labs of Docklands, but we have or will have in locations like Warragul awaiting funding, the best of the best designed to meet local needs. Our service has created an accessible and flexible local library and while giving our Volunteer Manager this document is one of my last tasks as a volunteer of the library, I will always be a loud and proud advocate of it in postcode 3824.
About the CAC – Representatives on the Community Advisory Committee provide community perspectives to the Myli board and help to maintain and promote library services and resources to the wider community.