Libraries hit major milestone

Published: 14 Apr 2021

Four out of every 10 Mackay residents are now members of Mackay Regional Council Libraries.

With more than 1100 programs running yearly, new gaming and audio pod facilities and creative initiatives aimed at residents living with disability, libraries have become so much more than just a place to borrow books.

Mayor Greg Williamson congratulated the team on reaching their goal of 46,705 members, which equals 40 per cent of our community.

“It’s really pleasing to see that all the team’s hard work has paid off, with a 34 per cent jump in membership over the last two years,” Mayor Williamson said.

“We are seeing our libraries becoming community hubs that are on the cutting edge of technology, education and accessibility,” he said.

“Libraries’ Programs team consistently deliver more than 1100 programs each year, but they have also seen a 52 per cent increase in attendance at these programs over the last two years – that tells us that they are hitting the mark.”

The Mayor acknowledged the team’s creativity and ability to appeal to varied audiences with their current programs.

“The ukulele programs have been a run-away success,” he said.  “Initially offered to improve the social interaction and mental health of seniors, their popularity has led to the creation of uke classes for younger audiences as well as workshops featuring different instruments and even instrument repairs and maintenance.

“One of the team’s latest initiatives pairs teens and seniors in ‘Grandparent Wars’ – a program where seniors can learn to use Nintendos and then battle in the new gaming pod at Gordon White Library with a teenage partner.

“It’s a tremendous school holiday activity and a creative way to encourage cross-generational interaction while improving seniors’ confidence with technology.”

Mayor Williamson also acknowledged the great work libraries were doing in the accessibility space.

“There’s a tremendous sensory space for adults and children with special needs, quiet hours for those with hypersensitivity, book clubs for those with disability and even story times with a therapy dog, Dexter, who provides mental health and anxiety support,” he said.

“Mackay Regional Council Libraries’ versatility has also come to the attention of the State Library of Queensland, with Mackay chosen to trial the ‘Check In QLD’ app due to the strength of our team and their reputation for embracing new technology.”

Community and Client Services director Angela Hays said programming wasn’t the only thing driving the library membership surge.

“We are increasingly noticing an upsurge in demand for our digital catalogue,” Ms Hays said.

“Over the last two years, our digital loans have surged by 453 per cent,” she said.

“We noticed, especially during COVID lockdowns, that residents were taking advantage of the fact that they could join the library online from the comfort of their homes and then immediately start borrowing ebooks, emagazine, movies, audiobooks and many other digital resources.”

Learn more about our Mackay Regional Council Libraries and the programs they offer.