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Local Libraries at the heart of our communities

The community library concept was never more important than today. As the world shifts more towards electronic means, the Internet and online services, book reading has been gradually losing its priority status among many people, particularly in the case of children and adolescents. But books and reading have lost nothing from their immense value, a valid point as to why we need to have better libraries and better library services within the communities. In this way, we will continue to offer a proper balance between traditional reading sources and the digital sources.

A good number of Local Councils already have their own public libraries. While the upkeep and maintenance of these libraries form part of their declared responsibilities, new initiatives have been undertaken to further pave the way for popular, better-run services.

A case in point is the “Marine Environmental Education Centre” inaugurated in Għajnsielem last March. This offers a unique holistic experience to students and persons of all ages who visit the place to get to know more about protected maritime zones and the traditions and challenges of the fisheries sector. Just a few steps away is the library where the same visitors can obtain more information and find books of all genres to read of their favourite Maltese and foreign writers. Culture and our historical heritage are an integral part of our identity as a nation, with books and book reading providing the key to a yearning, learned society.

Early this year, the ball was set rolling when Local Councils were provided with the opportunity of carrying out maintenance work on their libraries with the provision of personnel from the Local Government Division. Such maintenance and refurbishment works were carried out in local libraries at San Ġwann, Gudja, Tas-Sliema, Fgura, Xgħajra, Gżira, Swieqi and Rabat in Malta.

Such projects go a long way towards ensuring better services to the reading public, the residents, as part of a government policy in favour of a sustained reading culture among children and their families.

Only last month, it was announced ten Local Councils which form part of the Western Region will be benefitting from a scheme aimed at promoting and highlighting the importance of book reading among children. The scheme envisages a series of interactive programmes in each locality with the participation of different organisations and primary schools. The activities include an array of puppet shows, Maltese folklore music like the popular makkjetta in theatre format, meetings with authors, and other educational initiatives.

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