By Kyra Gillespie
Committees were selected, finances ordered and service badges awarded at the Berwick Mechanics’ Institute and Free Library’s 155th annual general meeting.
Hosted at the historic library on Wednesday 13 September, attendees enjoyed the formalities, followed by a drop of wine and platters of cheese.
The year had been a busy one for the independent, volunteer-run library.
A burst water main on Berwick’s High Street flooded the unsuspecting library, forcing volunteers to shut the doors for five days while new carpet was installed.
Fortunately, no books were damaged.
Successful grant applications of $19,250 were awarded to the library in the past year from all three tiers of government – local, State and Federal.
“During the year we were fortunate to receive three grants,” President Corinne Brewis said.
“Funding applications are always an unknown, something our efforts are unsuccessful but this year, to our surprise really, we were successful with all three applications.”
With a City of Casey grant they were able to purchase a scanner to make copies of all the in-house historical records, as well as for other community groups.
The second grant was a result of the Mechanics’ Institutes of Victoria’s application to the State Government for funding for Mechanics’ Institute Libraries.
With the funds new display tables, furniture and a kitchen refurbishment were purchased, among other things.
With the help of local MP Jason Wood, a third grant was secured from the Federal Government; a dollar-for-dollar grant amounting to $15,000, put towards further refurbishment works.
The library also received a generous $55,000 from the bequest of Pauline Creese, which treasurer Christine Daly said was put into the organisation’s Term Deposit Investments.
“I would like to acknowledge the continuing support of the City of Casey,” Ms Daly said.
“I also want to thank the members, managers, committee and executive for the welcome they have extended to me, it is a pleasure and very rewarding to contribute to such a long standing and integral organisation within the community.”
Service badges were awarded to a handful of dedicated volunteers in recognition of 10, 20 and 30 years of service.
Sue Mahoney, who first joined the library in 1984, was one of two volunteers to be awarded the 30 year long service badges.
She was with the library for 10 years, before a four year absence when she was living away from Berwick.
Since her return in 2008 she has been an integral part of the Tuesday team.
“It’s more than a library, it’s a community,” Ms Mahoney said.
“I love volunteering and I love working with the people I work with.
“Some of the kids who used to come to the library when they were little have now grown up and are bringing their kids.
“I think it’s quite rare these days to have such a community oriented space such as this one.”
When asked what her favourite memory was from her 30 years volunteering, the librarian couldn’t choose a single one.
“I can’t choose one thing, because I have so many nice memories here.
“It’s a feeling beyond words.”
The elected committee for 2018-19 consists of Corinne Brewis as President, Graham Hughes as Vice President, Christine Daly as Treasurer, Susan Griffiths as Secretary, and Debbie Bracker, Carol Duncan, Joyce Hayes and Anita Strobbe as the General Committee Members.