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Street libraries pave a path to Aboriginal literacy

Mini community libraries are being established in Armidale’s Girraween area to make books more available to children to improve their literacy.

Five ‘street libraries’ have been installed so far in the Aboriginal housing area – one outside a Narwen Village home and the others next to the footpath so they can be accessed at any time.

A sixth will soon be installed at Minimbah Preschool.

“The great advantage of street libraries is there is an available collection of books just waiting to be discovered by any child who walks past,” Karrali Aboriginal Mums & Bubs Service representative Maxine Ross said at an official launch of one of the libraries on Thursday.

Karrali, a program offered by Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Services, instigated the initiative in conjunction with other Hunter New England Health officers, local youth training organisation Backtrack and Armidale Regional Council.

Ms Ross told the launch, held in Morris Street, it was hoped the street libraries would help bridge the gap in literacy between Aboriginal children and the wider community.

The six libraries, constructed and installed by Backtrack, resemble giant letterboxes and are filled with books donated by Armidale War Memorial Library and a number of community members.

“Anyone can borrow books from the libraries at any time, then return them for other people to read,” Ms Ross said.

Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray said the street libraries are a fantastic initiative to encourage children to read, by taking the books to their doorstep.

“The need to focus on literacy among young people is well documented and Council is very enthusiastic about providing an assortment of children’s books through the library,” Councillor Murray said.

Backtrack youth, Minimbah children and a Homes North Community Housing tenant, artist James Lovelock, have painted the libraries so they stand out and help make them attractive to kids.

The Hunter New England Health Child Young People Family Team will monitor the libraries, to ensure they are well maintained and stocked with donated books.

The libraries are located at: Jones Avenue, Golgotha Street, Morris Street, Parry Parade, Erskine Street and Minimbah Preschool.

Anyone interested in donating books can contact the Karrali Aboriginal Mothers and Babies Team on 6776 9801.


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