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LoveReading Library of the Month #6: Blue Mountains Library

Liz Robinson

By Liz Robinson on 28th January 2019

When Heidi, the Lower Mountains Library Coordinator got in touch to chat to us about the Library of Innerpeffray (our December Library of the Month) I looked up her location and imagine my surprise when instead of Scotland I saw she was based in Australia!

Heidi visited the Library of Innerpeffray while on holiday and wrote a gorgeous blog piece for her own library (link available on our December blog). Looking online at the Blue Mountains Library I discovered a lot of similarities to our own system, when it comes down to it, a library is a library with all the delicious wonder and community support that entails. The photos show that the surroundings may, however, be a little different, if ever I get to travel to Australia, this will be on my list of places to visit.

The first two of the photos included in the post are of Katoomba Library which was completed only 6 years ago.  It is a beautiful building with stunning views over the Jamieson Valley, from the mezzanine level especially, and as much a tourist attraction as any other building in Katoomba. The third was taken in Springwood Library.

Tell us about your library and the area it sits in.

The Blue Mountains Library was established in 1974 and is located in the Blue Mountains Local Government Area (LGA) in New South Wales. The LGA covers approximately 1431 square kilometres within the stunningly beautiful World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park.  The City of Blue Mountains is located on the traditional lands of the Darug and Gundungurra Nations.

The library services approximately 78,705 residents across 26 individual and unique townships which are located sequentially along nearly 110 kilometres of ridgeline, running from Lapstone in the east at the edge of the Greater Sydney Region, to Bell in the West and Mount Irvine to the north.  

Full-time Library branches are located at Springwood, Katoomba and Blaxland, with part-time branches at Lawson, Blackheath and Wentworth Falls plus a mobile Book Express service on Katoomba and Springwood train stations thrice weekly for those in the population who commute to Sydney.

Do you have any links to libraries in the UK?

No, but maybe we should as we have a part-time Library Branch in Blackheath and we know there is a Blackheath in London . . .

Describe your library in three words.

Lounge room of the City.

Apart from plenty of reading material, what other services does your library offer?

  • Newspapers and magazines, e-books, e-audiobooks and e-magazines, a wide range of eResources (databases, etc) for reference and research, Games, book club kits, monthly newsletters, music on CD, audiobooks, graphic novels for all ages, Large print books, Readers for primary school aged children. We are developing collections of books using dyslexie font for those with reading difficulties
  • Blogs – Readers in the Mist, and Writers in the Mist.  We are active on several social media platforms including Facebook, Flickr and Pinterest
  • Local Studies collection – contains an extensive collection of books, maps, newspapers, archives and photographs covering all aspects of the Blue Mountains region and it is a collection of national significance.  The Local Studies Librarian maintains the Local Studies blog, Flickr page and Image Library
  • A varied program of events – author talks, Trivia nights, book sales, creative writing workshops, Editor-in-Residence, Free Comic Book Day on May 4th, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, International Games Day, International Tabletop Day, weekly Chess club, HSC workshops (the HSC is the equivalent of A Levels). Library Lovers Day on 14 February is always a big event for us. Children’s programs – Babytime for children up to approximately 18 months, Storytime for 0-6 year olds, art classes for primary aged children, school holiday programs for all ages. We are currently running the annual Summer Reading Challenge where children are encouraged to read/have read to them a set number of books depending on their age and can earn vouchers to spend at local bookshops. Katoomba branch have a therapy dog which comes regularly for children with reading difficulties to read to.
  • We have a partnership with Blue Mountains District ANZAC Memorial Hospital where the midwives distribute Books4Babies packs to families with new babies.
  • We partner with the Blue Mountains Family History Society to provide genealogical services and access to genealogy databases.
  • We have regular TechConnect sessions to assist people with their technology issues.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collection – this collection has been developed to provide material by, about, and for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people and recognises the moral and cultural rights of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people as owners of their knowledge.

What is the strangest book-related question your team has been asked?

Just the usual – can you help me find a book I recently returned – it has a blue/red/green/purple cover

If you were to become a character from a book for the day, who would it be and why?

Peter Pan, so I could fly.

What’s been the biggest surprise about working in a library?

Every day is different.

What are your top three must-reads?

This is your hardest question. In no particular order, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Perfume by Patrick Suskind, The 'Wolf Hall' trilogy (when the last is finally published) by Hilary Mantel

What is your favourite book from your childhood, and why did you love it?

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr.  It’s the only book I still have from my childhood, given to me by my parents for Christmas 1973.  The little girl in the book, Anna, is 9 years old and so was I at the time. Anna’s family has to flee Germany (where I was living at the time) when Hitler takes power, going first to Switzerland then to France and finally to England. As Anna’s awareness of what is happening grew, so did mine and as the frequently moving daughter of a British Army officer, I could relate with having to start again repeatedly. I have shared this book with my sons and my daughter.

And the Little Grey Men by BB. Mr Horsborough read it to my class when I was 6.  It’s the first book I remember being read to me (sorry Mum!) and was the first book I bought online as it is out of print and I so wanted to read it to my sons.

Why are libraries such a vital link in our communities?

Because public libraries are a safe, community space where all are welcomed.  They offer equity and access as well as support early literacy and life-long learning.

Keep in touch with the Blue Mountain Library!


Facebook (@BlueMountainsLibrary)

Twitter (@BMCLibrary)

Instagram (@bmclibrary)

If you enjoyed this article why not check out our other Library Features?

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tlmvjety d - 22nd March 2019

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