ALIA Blog: Visit to Tweed Heads Public Library 

Whenever ALIA National staff are on the road, they always make a point of taking some time to call in to surrounding library services where possible. ALIA’s Professional Learning Teacher Librarian, Jacqui Lucas AALIA(CP), was recently in Tweed Heads NSW for the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) Biennial Conference and took the opportunity to visit Tweed Heads Public Library while she was in town.

Jacqui was warmly welcomed by Library Manager, Karen J., who also oversees KIngscliff and Murwillumbah branches. Located in the recently upgraded Civic and Cultural Centre, Tweed Heads branch is a vibrant hub of activity and a place where the staff go above and beyond to create a truly welcoming and nurturing community space. There was so much to see, but the pride and joy of the team was the children’s area that currently features an ‘under the sea’ theme – very appropriate for the region!  The ceiling is festooned with felt sea creatures (all created by staff!) and twinkling fairy lights. Flexible ocean-toned furniture complemented the inviting space and tent available for any young person needing some sensory quiet time. Staff had had a very busy morning delivering school holiday activities but still generously made time to show Jacqui the entirety of the library’s services.

The library has fostered connections with local schools and host regular visits to support the curriculum. There is much for students to experience, for example, the library is currently hosting a travelling exhibition from Questacon in Canberra called ‘Byte Wise’ that focusses on mathematics and computer science concepts. The library team are expert at merchandising the collection which makes it particularly inviting to local young people who are supported with a dedicated graphic novel area and ‘TikTok made me do it’ display. A ‘chick lit’ genre display not only featured cute chicks, but fluffy bin chickens as well!

With ingenuity and creativity, the Tweed Heads Library team have created a library environment that is responsive to all members of the community and the space is cleverly set out to welcome everyone. The large print section is one of the most popular sections and the library additionally offers a free home library service to residents who it difficult to visit the library to borrow items.

One of the most popular weekly programs on offer at Tweed Heads are the yoga classes. One of the library staff is a trained yoga teacher and is able to run the groups and they have become so popular that there is now a dedicated space in the library and include chair yoga and gently flow yoga. Another impressive initiative includes seed libraries that are available at Murwillumbah, Kingscliff and Tweed Heads. No cost is involved, but seed borrowers are encouraged to bring back seeds from the plants they grow so that the initiative can keep going.

The past three years have posed significant challenges for the library staff. The Queensland border closure of 2021 was a nightmare for a town that edges beyond the New South Wales border and there were stories of passing books over back fences to be delivered to customers that couldn’t get to the library. And then the floods of 2022 added insult to injury, damage still evident in one part of the library.  Nonetheless, the Tweed Heads library team have remained resilient, creative, and good-humoured in the light of these difficulties, and Karen J. is leading her staff to fulfill the library’s mission to create an environment where the Tweed Heads community can connect, discover, and escape with knowledge, ideas and stories.