Thank you everyone for coming to FOPL AGM. I am pleased to be able to present another report for the year 2022-2023.

This year has been a slightly less worrying year than last year. Although we are still hanging on the whim of Shire bureaucrats about the possible cut backs to opening hours, we were given another 12 months from last November to prove that hours should not be diminished, to the relief of the community. Councillors voted against the proposal and moved an amendment to extend the trial for another 12 months.

FOPL have been working hard instigating events to bring more people into the Library. This has proved most successful and morning teas have been held. New members have been joined up and people not wanting to join a group still enjoyed meeting new people and exploring all the services the Library provides.

Some members of FOPL are still communicating their concerns with Councillors. Main concerns are lack of signage, staff cutbacks and extremely big work loads for actual library staff and of course the threatening cutbacks to opening hours. There is still very strong feeling in the community that library hours should not be reduced, particularly with the need for the important services the library provides with the many housing developments that are taking place in Paynesville. More residents surely means the need for ongoing and maybe increased Library opening hours. One would think that alone would be a criteria for keeping present opening hours, apart from all the negative effects, social and health, that reduced hours would present to our community. We will continue our campaign to assure Councillors that they did not make the wrong decision by extending the survey for 12 months and continuing with present opening hours. Petra and I attended a meeting at Lakes with representatives from FOLLE, Orbost and Cr. Sonia Buckley. We all found it really beneficial and a good way to discuss future directions for our libraries. It was really very reassuring to have Sonia’s support and encouragement and realisation just how important libraries are to communities.

This year we held 4 book sales – all very successful and enjoyed and appreciated by the public. Petra has once again done a magnificent job organizing rosters and all the necessary things to make our sales sales so successful. Bruce (Hammond) is invaluable helping with lifting & stacking boxes of books and bringing in signs etc. A big thanks to both Petra and Bruce. Thanks to all FOPL volunteers who help with organizing and selling. The sales are well known after 12 years and a very important tourist attraction for Paynesville. The volume of books donated to us seems to be increasing and we thank all the readers who bring books no longer required, to the library for our sales. Some books appear as if they are brand new. What a wonderful bargain people can snap up.

We were really thrilled to welcome the Paynesville Toonalook CWA to our Kings Birthday book sale. This was a first and we hope it continues. How good was it have delicious cakes, biscuits and slices available for the public and also for FOPLs! Some FOPLs more than others. It is really great when community groups can work together. Thank you Paynesville Toonalook CWA.

The Short Story Competition was well supported this year with 62 entries. The Judges made the comment that the stories this year were of a very high standard. I would like to thank our extraordinary judges for their professionalism and expertise. Thank you, Jill, Bill and Rosemary. This year was the first year since the pandemic that we could host a morning tea for our Judges. It was so nice to have you with us.

We were thrilled that a local writer was placed second. Jan Wallis of Lakes Entrance. Jan has been a multiple prize winner and place getter. It was really special to have you with us too, Jan. Jan has also self-published her autobiography. Good luck with that. The other winners were from Echuca and Ovens. . This year FOPL organized a junior bookmark competition. This has just been judged. We are really thrilled that we received 92 entries. The winners were from Bairnsdale, Kennington & Paynesville. The winning entries will be commercially printed into bookmarks and available at Regional Libraries. We intend to make it a yearly event. We had 3 sections, and the winner of each section won a $50 book voucher for The Book Orchard in Bairnsdale. Thanks to Cr. Kirsten Vandiggele for doing an excellent job in judging all the entries. Good to see children’s creating imaginative art. Thanks to all entrants.

We held a Christmas in July morning tea, obviously in July.  We were thrilled to welcome Cr. Mendy Urie and Cr. Kirsten Vandiggele. It is a great way for library users to meet, mingle and have a laugh also to for new users to see all the wonderful services our library has to offer our community.

This year has been financially good for FOPL too. We have made many purchases to enhance the service Paynesville can offer to our community- a stick vacuum, 2 x pod coffee machines, a large plastic worm for children to climb thru, that is on the back deck, 2 tables made by the Men’s Shed, a teardrop Library flag which is displayed at front of library. At least people can find the library a little easier now! 2 sets of books for the Bibliography Book group – these books are shared with other library reading groups, a set of gorgeous indigenous design cushions for children’s library, a yearly subscription for ‘The Age’ newspaper and a Nintendo switch machine and games – this too will be shared with other Regional libraries.

I would like to thank Annameike from The Book Orchard for her generous donation of book vouchers for our events. It is extremely kind and I suggest if you are book buying, support our wonderful locally owned bookshop.

Thanks to Paul from Bairnsdale WEB design for managing our website again. He does a mighty job and makes things that sound absolutely daunting to me, easy. Thanks Paul.

Thank you to the ‘Muscle people’ from Shire who help with setting up and packing away boxes of books for our book sales. Thanks, guys.

I would now like to mention what I think are the most important assets libraries have – the staff. Leanne and Sam with help from Denice are our main staff or regular staff. These 2 do an amazing job – always friendly, welcoming, helpful, knowledgeable and patient. It is obvious by the reaction from library users how respected they are and the amazing accolades I hear all the time just reinforces the important role they play in our community. Thank you to Team Leader Doxie for her contribution and interest in our library. Thank you to Naomi for informing FOPL of Library issues and keeping us up to date with library activities.

Our membership seems to be rather static at 44 members. I think that is exceptionally good as there are many organisations that we have to compete with.

Finally, I would like to thank the great team of office-bearers I am fortunate to be surrounded with. Firstly, I would like to thank Petra “secretary extrordinaire”. Petra is always so willing to email members, super-efficient at minutes and agenda and minute taking – not an easy job plus all the other secretarial jobs. Thank you, Petra it is great to work with you. To Jan, our treasurer, thank you for another year of excellent bookkeeping. I don’t think a cent gets past her eagle eye. Thanks, Jan. Di our Vice President, thank you for all your support & ideas. Beryl is our catering manager. Beryl never lets us down and always makes sure we have supplies for our activites. As well as baking delicious goodies. Thank you, Beryl.

Lastly thank you to you the members of FOPL for your support throughout the year and always being willing to help out when asked and for just being Friends!

I wish all new Office-Bearers a successful, happy and healthy 2024