By Dewi Sherry

Patronage at Wyndham’s libraries has soared to record levels, with 1.03 million visits in the past financial year – an increase of almost 20 per cent.

Soaring attendances and increased demand were among the reasons behind the council’s decision last week to adopt a new library services strategy, which includes building four new libraries over the coming years.

The council hopes the new Library Service Strategy 2018-2040 will keep Wyndham libraries at the forefront of library developments in technology, infrastructure and service provision.

As previously reported by Star Weekly, the strategy proposes building libraries along Black Forest Road North, the East Werribee Employment Precinct, the Riverdale precinct and the Oakbank precinct in Tarneit North between 2025-30.

The council wants to ensure most residents live within three kilometres of a library.

Wyndham city life acting director David Semmens said: “It’s clear that in Wyndham, libraries are more popular than ever. Each year we’re seeing a rise in the number of people visiting our libraries, the number of items being loaned to residents, and the number of people making computer bookings.

“In the 2016-17 financial year 1.03 million people walked through the doors of one of our five libraries. This is a huge 18 per cent increase on the previous year.

“Libraries are no longer just a place you go to borrow books. Library computers are a hit with our residents, with the number of computer bookings taken in the most recent financial year up 14 per cent on the previous year. Wifi use has also increased.”

At last week’s council meeting, Cr Mia Shaw said: “Wyndham Libraries are the largest municipal library service in Victoria and it is very heartening to see that in 2016 and 2017 more than 1.6 million items were borrowed through our library service.”

Cr Josh Gilligan said: “People consider libraries as nothing more than just a domain of books but that is not the case. There are hundreds of services we provide, there are young kids in there learning coding and IT.”

The council will undertake further planning to consider what libraries and community services are needed in areas such as Williams Landing and Truganina.