By VINNIE RODI

THE Irymple Library’s next chapter will officially get under way on Monday, May 14, when the new tenants of the site, Mildura Christie Centre Inc., host a community open day.

Running from 2pm to 6pm, the open day will see Christie Centre staff share the organisation’s future ideas and plans for the Irymple Library, while also gaining valuable feedback regarding what the community wants from the space.

Christie Centre Team Leader, Bernie Chaplin, PICTURED, said the Irymple Library, first and foremost, would remain a library, however, she also indicated that the organisation had quite a few exciting ideas they wanted to share with the community.

“Next Monday is going to be a chance to meet with local residents, and learn directly from them what they might like to see as a future direction for the Irymple Library, while also sharing some of the ideas we have,” she said.

“We have lots of ideas that we’ve gathered since securing the tender, and we’re also partnering with the Irymple Progress Association, who supported our initial expression of interest, and also have about five other volunteers who are interested in running activities through the space.”

Ms Chaplin this week confirmed that one of the conditions of the tender was to maintain the site’s role as a library, with the group currently working on ideas to also transform the building into a community hub.

“We are not just going to go with what we think is right,” she said. “At the community day we’ll be asking for input from those who attend.

“Residents have already forwarded some ideas, including that we retain the library’s IT Hub, get extra computers in, and try and help people go paperless, so create digital copies of documents etc. for them.”

Ms Chaplin said other ideas the Christie Centre would share with those at the community day include:

• Offering assistance with device help.

• Grandparent nursery rhyme time.

• Parents morning coffee sessions.

• Baby bounce and story-time sessions.

• Craft and scrapbooking sessions.

• Hosting an on-site psychologist.

• Hosting a Justice of the Peace on-site once a month.

“The list goes on,” Ms Chaplin said. “Again these are just ideas, and we really want to hear from the community about what they want to see. Our plan is to start small and grow once we become more confident with where we are heading.

“We want to find out from residents if they are a current user of the library, find out what they have used the library for in the past and what would bring them to the space in the future.

“If they visit the library, then how often? What are their preferred days etc.? We want to gather more input from the community, because it’s not all about us.”

Ms Chaplin said opening times for the Irymple Library were also yet to be determined going forward, and would again be formed following feedback received next week.

She also confirmed that current stock retained by the library will also be reduced, with only the most popular items to be kept.

The Mildura Christie Centre will officially begin operation of the Irymple Library from July 1 this year, after officially earning the tender for the site in November last year.

The takeover was made possible following a Council review of its library services in early 2017. That review recommended a range of options to save ratepayers almost $190,000 a year, while ensuring the region’s libraries remain “viable and meet the community’s needs.”

The review found that in the case of the Irymple Library, it was suffering from a combination of declining patronage, increasing costs and decreased State Government funding.

Usage of the Mildura and Red Cliffs libraries by Irymple residents was also a major factor in reduced patronage.

Councillors agreed to offer the existing Irymple Library building to a local organisation via an expression of interest process in May 2017.

“This is the first time this type of model has been used, with the Christie Centre essentially leasing the building from Council, saving ratepayers about $70,000 a year,” Ms Chaplin said.

“The takeover will also provide an opportunity to run some employment-based programs for Christie Centre clients, essentially creating employment opportunities for life-skills people who are interested in cataloging and customer service roles that come with a library component.”