Wagga City Council will forge ahead as a standalone library system and leave the Riverina Regional Library (RRL) after more than 40 years of membership.
The major change was voted in by councillors at Monday evening's general council meeting with five votes cast in favour and three in dissent.
Under the model recommended in the report, Wagga City Council will commence an independent library service upon the expiry of the current deed of agreement with the RRL on June 30, 2022.
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Under the changes, other members of the RRL like Batlow, Tumut, Henty and others will be able to borrow from Wagga Library under the state library reciprocal loan system, but the RRL catalogue will no longer include Wagga Library.
No other existing services will be lost for Wagga, with an Agile Library Van Service included in the new model that will increase and offer more remote services.
The Agile Library Van Service will offer borrow and return services and library programs to each of the nine villages in the LGA once per week. The service is an increase from the borrow and return service offered to five villages once per fortnight under the RRL model and will also serve suburbs of the city.
The budget calculation in the report estimated that council will be able to deliver the existing and new services as a standalone library at an annual saving of between $19,000 and $32,000 compared to the fees being paid to the RRL.
The motion was voted in by Councillors, Keenan, Kendall, Hayes, Conkey and Pascoe, with Councillors Tout, Koschel and Braid in dissent.
Councillor Tout proposed an amendment to temporarily remain in the RRL to give council more time to achieve the outcomes but the motion was defeated.
Councillor Tout said while he was in support of all proposals in the report, he was concerned the timeline of July 2022 was unfeasible.
"My concern in moving forward with a new model is the resources in this place and the ability to implement [the changes]," Cr Tout said.
"There are a lot of things to do in a short time frame and I'm really concerned that the capacity and time there, there is not enough time, that's all."
Cr Tim Koschel also voted against the change, saying he was "skeptical" of the ability of staff to deliver the outcomes within the timeframe.
Councillor Kendall implored his fellow representatives to be "brave" in voting in the change.
"Councillors in any term of council there's probably only a few decisions that you make that require you to act in what I'll call a brave manner," Cr Kendall said. "Leaving an existing service that has served the community well to implement a new service that will serve this community better can be a really difficult decision to make."
Cr Keenan voted in favour and said that while Wagga is a regional hub, it's role in the RRL was not as beneficial to ratepayers and residents as the proposed standalone model.
Dr Annemaree Lloyd president of Friends of the Library spoke in passionate favour of the report ahead of the vote, calling it a "roadmap for the future" that will increase community and connection across the entire Wagga City Council area.
Uranquinty resident of more than 30 years Belinda McMahon also spoke at the meeting, and called the provision of the full range of library services to the villages under the standalone model a win for community wellbeing.
"I have always felt the desire to be truly part of the community," Ms McMahon said. "I see the importance not only for my mental health but for that of all the residents of the little village I live in."
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