Public libraries are the hearts of communities. This week is Library and Information Week, with the theme of 'What's the source?' That's a great question to be asking when there are contentious issues and you're seeking information. Libraries are islands of trustworthy information in a sea of misinformation. In 2020-21, 146 million items were accessed and borrowed from Australia's libraries, from toddlers borrowing their favourite picture book for probably the 10th time to truck drivers downloading the latest audio books to get them through a long drive. Now, of course, the authors of those audio books get lending rights every time that book is borrowed.
Our public libraries are treasuries of culture. For some, they're refuges from the cold and the heat. They're social spaces where Australians of every generation and all backgrounds can learn, gather, explore, create and have fun. There must be safe places for everyone in our libraries. It's been profoundly disappointing to see our libraries face repeated threats in recent months because of the inclusive environments that they provide and their presentation of programs like Rainbow Storytelling. These threats take a toll on hardworking staff who are just trying to do their job and serve their communities. I want to thank library staff across Australia for their resilience, professionalism and commitment to ensuring free access to knowledge. I encourage everyone to visit your local library, borrow a book and say thank you to the librarians.