WHEN we think of 'library materials', we think of books. But today's libraries contain so much more than that.
We can save hundreds of dollars on toys, CDs, DVDs, videos, newspapers and magazines, computer software and high-speed internet computer connections by accessing our libraries' resources.
Richmond-Tweed Regional Library director Martin Field is proud of the services provided by the region's libraries. Resources are shared between twelve branches and a Mobile Library in the Ballina, Byron Bay, Lismore and Tweed local government areas, and administered by 120 staff across the region. The nerve centre of the whole operation is in Centenary Drive, Goonellabah. It is here that books are ordered, sorted, catalogued and dispatched.
"There's a new generation of readers who come into libraries for a lot of other reasons than just to borrow a book," he says. "They may be job-searchers looking at ads in newspapers or online; they may want to research their family history, practise for the RTA theory test, use a word processor or computer to write and print a few letters - or it may be a place where they can catch up socially with other library users."
There are weekly activities at libraries, too, for everyone from babies through school students to the elderly.
The well-attended Baby Bounce sessions introduce the youngest of the young to rhyme and rhythm, and the idea of stories, using babyproof books where they can learn to turn the page - all important pre-reading learning.
"Studies have shown that kids who are used to books and can read a little before they go to school are head and shoulders above the rest," Martin says. "Children can pick up reading very quickly if they are exposed to it at a very young age."
Once in school, library members can join Homework Help sessions, with staff available to help with homework research and computer use; these sessions also offer free photocopying, internet access, word processing and printouts. …