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Interview with ABC Melbourne about Foster Library’s 24 hour access

Interview with ABC Melbourne about Foster Library’s 24 hour access

Earlier this week, our CEO Leanne Williams was interviewed by ABC Drive host Rafael Epstein about 24 hour access at Foster Library.

Here is a transcript of that interview:

Rafael Epstein:

Here’s something that’s changing. Uh, the beautiful town of Foster in Gippsland. Good doctors in Foster apparently. Uh, in Gippsland in Foster, it’s going to have a 24 hour library. They thought about extending the hours. Then they went, you know what not that many people who are members, something like 1400 people. Let’s just make it like the 24 hour gym. Get approval, get the swipe card, let yourself into the library. Leanne Williams can tell us more. CEO of West Gippsland Libraries. Leanne, good afternoon.

Leanne Williams:

Good afternoon, Raf. Thanks for having me on your show.

Rafael Epstein:

What prompted the 24 hour library in Foster?

Leanne Williams:

Well, we wanted to make our libraries accessible to more people and when we looked into the data a little bit more, we realised that more than 50% of the community work more than 35 hours a week. So simply extending the opening hours meant, that they still weren’t going to be able to come. So we thought offering an unstaffed 24, seven library would mean that people would be able to come and use the library at their convenience and flexibility to our members.

Rafael Epstein:

Is there a 24 hour library anywhere else?

Leanne Williams:

There is a little one that I think might work a little bit differently in regional New South Wales, but we’re certainly the first in Victoria to be piloting this project.

Rafael Epstein:

How many people have got 24 hour access at the moment?

Leanne Williams:

That number is changing daily. So, um…

Rafael Epstein:

What, dozens of people, not hundreds?

Leanne Williams:

Not hundreds, so we had about 15, uh, last week and we’ve got people putting in applications every um, every day. So they’ll go through an induction process with our staff.

Rafael Epstein:

And what do you ask them in the induction?

Leanne Williams:

Well, we actually just show them the safety features of the library and how to use it, make sure that they’re safe,

Rafael Epstein:

Where the exits are and how to make sure you close the door, that sort of thing?

Leanne Williams:

Yeah, absolutely. And you know, we have an emergency, hours contact, um, you know, for triple 0 or those sorts of things, we really don’t expect there to be any big issue. That’s just making sure that our patrons feel safe to come and use it.

Rafael Epstein:

How many people are going to access it out of hours do you think?

Leanne Williams:

Well, the idea is that we can get more people using our libraries, not just our existing patrons. So, uh, as you mentioned, we have about 1400 members and we’d like to see that increase. Foster’s only a small community. So, um, we don’t have any expectations. It’s just about making sure that, that we’re accessible to more people.

Rafael Epstein:

Does it cost anything to open it up 24 hours?

Leanne Williams:

Ah, well, it’s just business as usual in terms of our normal running costs.

Rafael Epstein:

Sure, I don’t know if you’re giving everyone a key card, I assume it doesn’t cost much.

Leanne Williams:

No. And so the, the key card is a refundable deposit. So again, we didn’t want it to be a deterrent for people using it.

Rafael Epstein:

So no one’s going to go in there and three in the morning?

Leanne Williams:

Some may! Where we, well we don’t know when people will use it. So far they’re using it around the sort of 6am to 8am, or between 6pm and 9pm.

Rafael Epstein:

Yeah a bit earlier and a bit later. I would expect that. Okay, interesting. We might, um, try and remember to check in on you, uh, before the end of the year or in six months time or something and then find out a little bit more to see how the trial is going. Thanks so much.

Leanne Williams:

Thank you very much.

Rafael Epstein:

Leanne Williams from West Gippsland Libraries in Foster. It’s gonna be a 24 hour library. We don’t think there’s one quite like that anywhere else. Rock up to the library whenever you want. Not. I think they’ve got 1400 members. So a relatively small place.

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