Siblings Soraya, Mustafa and Murtaza grew up in Pakistan and until they moved to Australia, had never set foot in a library.
In 2015, they moved with their family to Geelong and have been visiting their local Corio Library almost every week since. Soraya is in her first year of a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Melbourne – her ultimate goal is to become a dentist.
“The resources [at the Library] are amazing. We can borrow books anytime, access the printer, the desktops, the free Wifi” she says.
“It is an amazing place. Especially for those who want a place to study that doesn’t cost anything… libraries provide that support. It has changed my life and helped me so much with my studies.”
Soraya, Mustafa and little brother Murtaza, who is in year seven and dreams of becoming a professional cricketer, all regularly attend the homework club at Corio Library.
“The tutors help with English, maths, science and humanities. It’s good to study together too,” Mustafa says.
Soraya says “The homework club is really helpful – it helped me the most during year 12 and it is helping me now. When the Library is closed, I study at home. But I can’t study as efficiently as I can at the library – there are noises, siblings, TV – you can’t really focus that well. That’s the difference; you get distracted easily at home,” she says.
“There are tutors that help students with their reading, homework, tests and prepare them for their assessments. There are people of all ages–younger people who need help with their reading or people whose second language is English. Homework club provides that help,” she says.
The siblings appreciate that the library is not only a place to read and study but also a space for social connection. They recognise that the library provides a service for different groups within the community and people of all ages–their two year old nephew loves coming to Story Time and attends children’s programs. Soraya says the librarians are helpful and they have developed a bond with the staff at Corio Library, often “chatting about things that have nothing to do with libraries”.
In public libraries, stories like these are not uncommon.
Public libraries play a critical role in the informal education of many young Victorians, as well as helping the development of early literacy and digital literacy by providing access to technology, authoritative information and a whole range of programs for children and young adults. At public libraries across Victoria, children from non-English speaking families are hearing story books read in a new language; high school students are connecting to free WiFi to complete their homework; and girls are developing digital confidence in STEM classes.
When one in 8 Victorian households has no internet, the value of public libraries, with free WiFI, cannot be underestimated. It is just one way that libraries are changing lives every day. However, per capita library funding is falling – and is predicted to continue to fall. Geelong Regional Libraries is part of a state-wide push to advocate for increased State Government funding, so that public libraries can continue to change lives.
Related: Read about how libraries changed Prue’s life.
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Read More, Read Widely! Get involved with the Autumn Book Binge and be in the running to win great prizes.
Grab a bargain for a good cause, at the Geelong West Monster Book Fair.
We would like to thank all of the people who have taken the time to provide feedback on our opening hours proposal so far; we are honoured to be an important part of the communities we serve.
No Valentine’s Day plans? Geelong Regional Libraries has you covered on 14 February.
New Spark! Discovery kits available for loan
The Geelong Regional Library Corporation is proposing changes to the opening hours at some of its libraries and is inviting the community to have their say from 20 January – 29 February.