NSW Government urged to help bridge digital divide

Liverpool City Council CEO Kiersten Fishburn has urged the NSW Government to classify libraries as an essential service and allow them to re-open as soon as possible.

Ms Fishburn said that since Council's six library branches were closed in keeping with Public Health Orders, many of Liverpool’s most disadvantaged residents have effectively been cut off from the services and connections they need.

“Without libraries, students, families and seniors without computers or the internet at home are unable to use the free computers and WiFi at our branch libraries,” Ms Fishburn said.

"They cannot complete their studies, apply for jobs or submit government forms online.

"Elderly residents are unable to stay connected with their loved ones including grandchildren. The longer we keep our libraries closed, the more entrenched this digital divide will become across NSW.”

Ms Fishburn has written to Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock about the matter. She said she hoped to come to a solution quickly, following dialogue about the appropriate procedures to implement to allow library branches to reopen.

"Libraries are among the greatest of our democratic institutions and there are real equity concerns around keeping them closed,” Ms Fishburn said.

“We are effectively cutting off many in our community from their online connection with their families, studies and the outside world.”

Liverpool City Library continues to provide members with free access to online resources, including eBooks, eAudiobooks, databases, and more. Visit www.liverpool.nsw.gov.au/coronavirus for up-to-date information about Council’s response to coronavirus.