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Ipswich libraries surge in popularity

Ipswich libraries have experienced a surge in customer visitation numbers at all locations in the last year.

Ipswich City Council Chief Executive Officer Sonia Cooper said the 2023 report card showed visitors at all branches increased considerably and the library programs experienced a resurgence in popularity exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels.

“Libraries perform such an important role for the community and customer demand has increased

across all service points and outreach locations in 2023,” Ms Cooper said.

“Ipswich Libraries continues to focus on literacy as a foundation skill and provides key services to the community through face-to-face interaction, self-service and the online virtual branch.

“The Ipswich Libraries team continues to focus on delivery of key services while planning for the future in our growing communities.”

Ipswich Central Library in Tulmur Place had 198,804 visitors, a 26 per cent increase on 2022. It also signed up 4,178 new members, a 37 per cent increase on 2022.

The award-winning standalone Ipswich Children’s Library experienced the fastest growing annual visitation, an 85 per cent increase to almost 230,000 visitors.

The June-July school holiday period saw an average 1,902 visitors daily and almost 6,000 loans.

Ms Cooper said refurbishments at Redbank Plains Library, with a new children’s programming and collection area, new Marketplace collection and mobile shelving, resulted in a 63 per cent increase in visitors on 2022.

“Quiet zones are in demand and after-school traffic has increased,” Ms Cooper said.

Libraries at Rosewood and Springfield were also extremely popular. Springfield was the busiest branch with 257,000 visitors, a 23 per cent increase, while Rosewood enjoyed a 31 per cent increase in visitors.

“Partnerships with council departments and community organisations have led to the formation of the Rosewood Collective Action Group and subsequently mitigated after-school pressure-points and over-crowding,” Ms Cooper said.

“After several years of dynamic evolution that saw Ipswich Libraries open a number of new branches at a rapid pace, 2023 has been a year for consolidation.

“An increased focus on business-as-usual improvements prompted reviews of library collection practices, outreach activities and staffing at all library branches, with considerable work still remaining to prepare the service for the predicted rapid growth in Ipswich’s population.

“Collaboration across council has been a feature of this year’s activities. The library service has joined with other areas of council to support activation of the Nicholas Street Precinct.

“Ipswich Libraries has successfully delivered on grant-funded initiatives. Both the Picturing your Past installation and the Story in a Box project demonstrate the staff’s continued ability to innovate.

“Existing facilities have also been reviewed resulting in an upgrade to Redbank Plains Library delivered in the first quarter of the calendar year and significant planning for an upgrade to Redbank Plaza Library due to be delivered in 2024.”

Ms Cooper said more than 50 library programs had been delivered in partnership with other council areas or linked to council initiatives, there had been a 38 per cent increase in program attendance to more than 85,000, a 16 per cent increase in programming with more than 2,000 events, and more than 400 outreach programs delivered outside library branches.

Prince Harry’s biography Spare was the most-borrowed adult non-fiction book across all locations, with David Baldacci’s thriller Simply Lies the most borrowed adult fiction book. Bluey Shadowlands was perhaps not surprisingly the most borrowed children’s title.

Ipswich City Council is operating under caretaker provisions in accordance with Chapter 3, Part 5 of the Local Government Act 2009. Media communications by the Mayor and Councillors as ICC spokespeople during this time are limited to ensure compliance with legislation and, equity and transparency between existing Mayor, Councillors and candidates regarding access to Council resources.

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