The Friends group began informally in 1988 to help increase the resources in the library. In 1989 it became a constituted body, precipitated by a crisis which threatened the existence of the local public library service, which was successfully averted. The group was incorporated on 11th September 1991.
A management committee is elected every August at the Annual General Meeting: the Library Manager and Assistant Manager are ex officio members. Committee meetings are held each month in a branch of the library.
All involvement with the Friends is entirely voluntary. We receive no government funding, and income is derived from subscriptions, donations and fund-raising activities such as Meet the Author evenings, sales of surplus library books, raffles and quiz nights. We also initiate events to raise community awareness of the library, such as the annual Story Book Picnic and writing competitions. Currently we have over 200 members, who are sent regular newsletters.
The aims of the group are:
- to provide community based support for the functions and services of the library;
- to make the library’s services known generally and promote community involvement;
- to provide the library with information on community needs for library services; and
- to initiate and assist with relevant projects.
The Barossa Council Public Library has five branches: Angaston, Lyndoch, Mount Pleasant, Tanunda and Nuriootpa. The Nuriootpa branch is the administrative centre for the whole service.
Over the years the Friends have paid for entirely or have contributed a large part of the cost of many items, including: self-check machines for Nuriootpa and Tanunda, mobile display stands, trestle tables, display cases, CD-ROMs and scanners, a cupboard for the local history collection, DVD/CD cleaner, portable microphones and PA system for library events, sets of books for discussion groups, large print books, children’s books, support for early literacy programmes, grant applications for special projects, and the costs of entering all the back issues of local newspapers on to microfilm.
A microfiche/film reader/printer was purchased in 1998, and was replaced in 2011, an indication of the heavy usage of the equipment. In 2012 we purchased a high-resolution scanner, with a photo-transparency attachment, which enables the scanning of documents and pictures up to A3 size, thus allowing the preservation of historical records without damaging the original. These records and equipment are available for use by the many historical societies in the Barossa, as well as individual researchers and students.
Continuing our support for preserving the history of the Barossa, we initiated the Local History Competition for Year 9 High School students to write compositions on our local history, and we donate the prizes for this each year.
We are also strong supporters of encouraging our young people to become interested in literacy and literature, and to this end we run an annual Young Writers Competition, judged in conjunction with the Barossa Writers Group.
The Friends recognise that the format of literature is changing but we strongly believe that it is essential that our civilisation remains literate. No matter whether we access books on a printed page or through an electronic reader, libraries must make them available to everybody, and it is our role to assist this aim.