14 May 2024

Sharing stories: Riverina Regional Library network expands to serve more communities

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Karen Wendt and Jenny Congdon

Karen Wendt and Jenny Congdon at Berrigan Library, which will join RRL. Photo: Riverina Regional Library.

Four new library branches will be added to NSW’s largest regional library service, gaining access to more than 200,000 items from the shared physical collection.

Barooga, Berrigan, Finley and Tocumwal libraries will join Riverina Regional Library (RRL). Covering an area of 44,248 sqkm, with 18 branches and an iconic mobile library, RRL is the largest regional library service in NSW.

Berrigan Shire Council will join the library network on 1 July. RRL manager Karen Wendt said the library service was excited to have the council on board.

“Last year, Berrigan Shire Council approached us to find out whether they might be a good fit to join the RRL network,” Ms Wendt said.

“They were pleased with the extra resources that would become available to them by joining the RRL network and didn’t take very long to decide that that would be a good idea.”

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Ms Wendt said RRL membership had risen in recent years, which meant the transition process had become easier for the library network and new member councils each time.

“Berrigan Shire residents will enjoy an enormous range of new benefits, the most notable being access to a broader range of collection items shared among our 18 branch libraries delivered to them,” she said.

“A smaller regional and rural standalone library may find it challenging to provide an enormous range of library services and expertise individually.

“Membership with [Riverina] Regional Library means that those services can be provided centrally and much more cost-effectively, so branch libraries can focus on providing outstanding library services to their communities.”

Readers of e-books and e-audiobooks will gain access to the RRL digital collection through Borrowbox, which offers a wider choice of digital books.

Ms Wendt said all RRL member councils would enjoy the increased economies of scale that came from increased membership and access to a larger collection.

“It can be challenging for rural and regional libraries to provide the variety of library services, expertise, and systems individually,” Ms Wendt said.

“Membership with RRL means that these services can be provided cost-effectively and centrally so that libraries can focus on what they do best – providing welcoming spaces with great customer service.”

Pam Halliburton

Chair of RRL Advisory Committee Pam Halliburton says signing up the new members is a “win-win”. Photo: Riverina Regional Library.

Berrigan Shire Council Library Services said in a statement it was thrilled to announce a step forward in its commitment to serving the community.

“This collaboration with Riverina Regional Libraries represents a pivotal moment in our ongoing dedication to providing exceptional service to our community,” CEO Karina Ewer said. “Our foremost priority remains the enrichment of our members’ experience, and this union will undoubtedly achieve that goal.

“We understand the importance of continuity for our community user groups. Our dedicated library staff will continue to provide the same level of service, ensuring that members are greeted by familiar, friendly faces every day.

“We are committed to offering even more to our community as we embark on this exciting new chapter.”

Junee councillor and chair of the RRL Advisory Committee Pam Halliburton said the RRL service provided rural areas access to resources.

“A regional library is the way to go in rural areas because it gives us an opportunity to access a large number of resources that we would not be able to access if we just had one library, a stand-alone library,” Cr Halliburton said.

“I think this can only be positive for the four libraries in Berrigan Shire Council. I’m very happy about the Berrigan Shire Council joining the Riverina Regional Library. It’s a win-win situation for all of us.”

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RRL membership benefits include access to:

  • The collections of all 18 branch libraries across the region – more than 200,000 items
  • More than 4000 additional e-books and e-audiobooks provided by Borrowbox
  • RRL’s programs and events
  • RRL’s storytime kits and crafts
  • More than 200 book club kits – including DVD, audiobook and e-book options
  • A broad range of e-resources and online databases.

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