Libraries After Dark to continue, bigger and better (media release)

Libraries After Dark, a project conceived in Merri-bek two years ago, is being rolled out at 10 locations across Victoria to prevent gambling harm.

Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation Marlene Kairouz announced that the program, which sees libraries extend their opening hours until 10pm one night per week to offer a range of entertainment and other recreational activities as alternatives to the local pokies venue, will continue in Merri-bek, Darebin, Hume and Whittlesea municipalities.

Additionally, Dandenong, Springvale, Sebastopol and Moe were the successful funding recipients for the next stage of the Libraries After Dark project, with Werribee Plaza and Bairnsdale both receiving funding from 2020.

Moreland City Council will manage the $1 million program, funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, over the next four years.

Mayor of Merri-bek, Cr Natalie Abboud, said public libraries are the beating heart of our community.

“Libraries are of course a great source of knowledge and discovery but they are also a place to meet people, encounter your neighbours, even make new friends,” said Cr Abboud.

“Like the local pokies, you can visit alone, with family, for a little or a long time; it doesn’t matter where you come from, your background or your circumstances – but unlike the pokies, you don’t need money to participate.

“Since we started this program almost two years ago, more than 45,000 people have attended a late-night library program.”

Libraries After Dark aims to arrest a decline into addiction of moderate and low risk gamblers – who comprise almost 12% of the general population according to recent research published by the Responsible Gambling Foundation.

The libraries funded in the latest round of Libraries After Dark were identified as having at least one high-loss pokies venue nearby; the program aims to provoke a shift from the gambling lounge to the community lounge in these at-risk communities.

Libraries After Dark is on at Glenroy Library every Thursday until 10pm, featuring a variety of events that start at 7:30pm.