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Council Flashback

Babinda Library racks up 60 years

Babinda Library reached a significant milestone, marking 60 years since its official opening.

A history and memorabilia display was on show as a reminder of days gone by in the traditional sugar town.

Babinda Library as it appeared in its early days and as it looks now; some of the memorabilia currently on display in the library.

Media Release from Cairns Regional Council:

16 February, 2015

Babinda Library will reach a significant milestone this week, with Wednesday marking 60 years since its official opening.

A history and memorabilia display is currently on show in the library as a reminder of days gone by in the traditional sugar town.

“Like many libraries in Australia, Babinda Library began life as a School of Arts,” Division 1 Councillor Steve Brain said.

“The original building was constructed in 1915 but suffered severe damage in the 1918 cyclone.

“The current building took shape around 1920, with parts of the original structure incorporated into the building.”

The building spent some time as the town’s RSL hall prior to its purchase in 1954 by the then Mulgrave Shire Council. The purchase price was £3000.

“The Council renovated the building to serve as a library and branch office. It was officially opened on 18 February 1955.”

Babinda Library’s initial stock consisted of 717 children’s books and 1575 books for adults. But the library proved popular from the outset – the branch’s 748 borrowers borrowed a total of nearly 40,000 items in the first year of operation – a much higher figure that of the bigger town of Gordonvale.

In recent years, the building has been refurbished to meet modern library standards but it retains much of its old character and is in good condition, despite sustaining cyclone damage in 1986.

The addition of solar panels and an accessible ramp are among the most recent amendments.

The present branch supervisor, Holly Goriss, has been the smiling face of Babinda Library since 1984.

Ms Goriss said the biggest change in that time had been the introduction of computerised systems.

“I was here BC – before computers,” Ms Goriss said. “We used the old card system and catalogues. It’s been fascinating how libraries have embraced the electronic age.

“But it is still so rewarding to see a child pick up a book and start reading. Our community is so passionate about its library and it’s wonderful to be able to supply them with such a great, community-focused library service.

“We’re also lucky to have some of the most dedicated volunteers, through the Friends of Cairns Libraries, who regularly help out with Storytime and other library activities.”

These days, Babinda Library holds around 5300 items, with access to the full Cairns Library catalogue of more than 200,000 items.

There is a large selection of magazines, DVDs, CDs and audiobooks, as well as the traditional page variety.

The branch features a local history touchscreen loaded with historical photographs from the Jago collection.

In the 2013-14 financial year, the branch received 27,568 visits and loaned 17,126 items.

Events to celebrate the library’s 60th birthday are being planned for later in the year.


Lea Guy Media Coordinator

4044 3092 or 0427 748 603



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