Ipswich Libraries will figure prominently in council budget plans for 2019-20.
The first sod for the $6 million Rosewood library has been turned with construction scheduled to finish in December and the facility opening early next year.
Ipswich City Council’s library service will be developing the collection profile, purchasing all the books and other resources, and working with the project team to deliver and launch the service.
Three new and fully-functional council customer service centres will be included in Springfield Central, Rosewood and Ipswich Central libraries to replace now closed divisional offices.
Interim Administrator Greg Chemello, who will deliver the budget on 25 June, said the new centres would allow residents and ratepayers to pay bills, submit paperwork, lodge complaints and engage with council officers who will have the same training as call centre staff.
He said closure of the former divisional offices is expected to save ratepayers almost $2 million each year.
Council will provide a library hub and interim customer service centre in Rosewood in the meantime.
“People will be able to visit the new library, pay their rates, register their dog, apply for council-specific licences, lodge applications, or even buy tickets for events at the Civic Centre,” he said.
Council is contributing $3.3 million towards construction, with the State Government providing $2.7 million.
Council’s other major library focus in 2019-20 will be on launching the new Library Pod at the redeveloped Karalee Shopping Centre in August.
The 600-book retail kiosk will be based on Ipswich Libraries’ successful Market Place collection model.
“This will not only be an Ipswich first initiative it is a prototype design that is the first of its kind anywhere,” Mr Chemello said.
“As part of our strategic approach of extending the library’s reach beyond customers having to visit the branches, we are aiming to insert library services where people already congregate.
“This will create an original collection service offering targeted at residents who may not visit the library branch but would be attracted by a retail kiosk experience that provides self-service browse and borrow functionality.”
A new Library Pod will be installed at the redeveloped Karalee Shopping Centre.
Under the Ipswich Library and Information Service Coping with Growth 2008-2026 strategy, Ipswich Libraries aims to extend the collection and presence of the library service into areas identified as remote to the city’s main library facilities.
The deployment of these ‘high tech’ kiosks to locations with high pedestrian traffic potential will achieve this, he added.
“The development of the library offering as part of the CBD redevelopment and Nicholas St Precinct will be a significant deliverable in the 2019-20 budget,” he said.
“This exciting project will provide a new cultural facility in the CBD that will create activation of the new civic space.”
Ipswich will also welcome its 50,000th library member early in the new financial year. Library membership has increased 42 per cent since July 2018.
Mr Chemello said the council’s budget will prioritise the important needs of the city.
“It allocates money to projects which will enable council to get the job done and to ensure the city is meeting demands imposed upon us all by rapid growth,” he said.
Mr Chemello acknowledged that Ipswich is one of the fastest growing councils in Australia. The city ranked near the top in Queensland in terms of growth and in the top 10 nationally.
He said economic prosperity and jobs, good roads, an improved public transport system and public infrastructure are important components which help the city provide for its constituents.
“It is a progressive budget, yet responsible. It retains a reasonable surplus, yet addresses compelling needs such as the completion of the Nicholas Street development,” he said.
“It ensures the council is delivering basic needs such as waste collection, yet looks to produce a complex business case for a Springfield-Ripley-city rail link.
“It addresses long-overdue governance concerns, yet paves the way for future councillors to develop a more healthy, active and engaged community.”