Thursday 17 September 2015

Hansard of the Legislative Council

Special Interest




Mr FINCH (Rosevears)    Mr President, any parish pubs have long been turned off.  Pubs are closed, congregations are dwindling, GPs have partly taken over the role of the clergy, mechanics' institutes have long been closed.  In Tasmania, our state library system, Learning and Information Network Centres, or LINCs as they are known, go from strength to strength. 

We have a rebuilt and revised LINC in Launceston.  That is the case in point.  It is a fantastic development.  We have a cafe for those with a caffeine addiction, for their coffee.  We have many more computer terminals.  We have free wifi access, plenty of space with charging points for working with personal devices.  There are plenty of tables and chairs, and rooms where meetings can be held.  The Launceston LINC is usually crowded by all age groups, even toddlers. 

Since the renovations were completed only a few months ago, customer usage has increased about 12 per cent compared to the same time last year.  Free meeting rooms are seeing increased usage by community groups, businesses, and other government departments and agencies.  The attraction of these new computer facilities, free wifi and recharging points, has resulted in an increase in the usage across the age demographic, but particularly in the youth and young adult range.  This is important, because they are the future of the LINC operation.  How do you draw them in?  How do you get them connected?  I think LINCs, certainly with the development in Launceston, have been able to do that. 

To give you some idea of the importance of LINC Tasmania, here are a few figures I have from 2014-15.  The number of Tasmanian heritage items online is 275 000; accessible Tasmanian archive items, 3 million; library items borrowed, 4.2 million; and physical and online visits to LINC in 2014‑15, 5.8 million.

The LINC Tasmania Strategic Plan 2014-2017 is a very impressive document.  Three aims detailed in the plan stood out for me and I quote:

•          Help adults and families develop and maintain literacy, numeracy and foundation skills they need for life and work, and act as a bridge into further education and employment;

•          Encourage and facilitate lifelong learning;

•          Coordinate and promote a statewide effort to improve adult literacy and numeracy, and to promote plain English.

One of the aims of the Acting Manager of Launceston LINC, Doug Fingland, is to promote the involvement of young people.  We have Doug on loan at the moment from the member for Apsley's Scottsdale branch of LINC.  There is a children's area on the ground floor where parents bring their toddlers for programs like singalong s and other free children's activities.  Schools are encouraged to bring groups of children, so the place is really vibrant.  There are a number of free learning programs including computer training. 

There is a network of LINCs across Tasmania.  Some of them deliver other services such as Service Tasmania, Child and Family Centres and Centrelink service points.

I have just been talking to the member for Windermere about his development at George Town in the Child and Family Centre, and they have the LINC network in there.  It is an impressive development, of course controversial to get started in respect of the location, but now it is established it is going absolute gangbusters, and LINC is showing that improvement in usage.

All the library stocks are linked.  By placing a hold on a book, you can have stock anywhere in the state delivered to a local LINC at no cost.  LINC's computer system has now been extended so you receive an email reminder to return your loans on time. 

To get back to the Launceston LINC, it is only about 100 metres from the Legislative Council offices in Henty House.  The lounge with their newspapers is right next to the new cafe so I am sure you will know where to find me in the near future - in the cafe.  I might point out there is talk that the cafe is going to extend out into the Civic Square, which is, sadly, pretty much an unused part of Launceston.  They are going to run the cafe out into that concourse and that should be a really good development.

I will end with a quote from the Acting Manager, Doug Fingland:

From community feedback we have received throughout the LINC network, LINCs are viewed as welcoming, helpful, informative and safe places to frequent.  Whether you are a library user, a media user, a family with children, a young person, a learner, a community group from the business sector, or a committee group or from the business sector  ...

because you can use the rooms there for business meetings -

... all can be accommodated and catered for in facilities that offer flexible, modern spaces with a high standard of customer services from the staff.

It has been a big mental shift for the staff as well because they are now very much connecting.  They are not hidden away in dark offices and behind shelves of books.  They are out upfront making the LINCs very welcoming indeed.  Thanks to Doug Fingland for the perfect description of Launceston LINC.  It is a great success.