GREATER Taree Libraries have been crowned among the best in the nation.

The libraries won two national awards at the Library Stars 2014: The Best of the Best forum, which showcased innovation in public libraries.

The library awards featured three categories, Content, Capability and Collaboration, with Greater Taree City Council taking out two of the three awards.

The local winner of the Content Category was Our Words Our Stories, a community-based literacy program which is providing the opportunity for local Aboriginal people to become authors.

The program focuses on creating stories that help young Aboriginal children to connect the past with the present.

Fourteen books were published last year, with more in progress.

Community outreach librarian Debbie Horgan believes the creation of Our Words Our Stories was something special, and said she was honoured with the recognition.

“It provides young Aboriginal people of our area with story books that are relevant and meaningful, and treasures stories from our local Aboriginal families.”

The Valley Coffee Spot cafe in Taree Library was the winner of the Collaboration category.

The project is a joint venture with local service provider Valley Industries, which provides a training facility for people with disability to learn hospitality skills within the Taree Library cafe setting.

Greater Taree City Council’s senior leader cultural services, Margie Kirkness said the project was about establishing social connections in the community.

“These library programs are all about social inclusion and we have some wonderful community connections happening in our libraries in the Manning Valley,” she said.

“These successes could not be achieved without strong community partnerships, with Valley Industries for The Valley Coffee Spot and with Childcare Services Taree and District, North Coast Institute of TAFE and Mission Australia as partners in the Our Words Our Stories program.”

Debbie and Margie were both invited to speak at the forum in Melbourne to share their learning about the two award-winning library programs, and to inspire other libraries to take on similar projects. Following presentations by the winners and runners up, delegates voted for their favourite project, Greater Taree’s Our Words Our Stories.

Margie said it was a wonderful chance to showcase the creativity of the Manning Valley.

“There were fabulous library projects from all over Australia showcased at the forum, but I think we really put Taree and the Manning Valley on the map,” she said.

Source: Manning River Times

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