Dubbo Photo News & Dubbo Weekender

New chapter begins for retiring library director

Macquarie Regional Library's former director John Bayliss has retired after 15 years managing the ten library services in this region. Photo: Dubbo Photo News. Macquarie Regional Library's former director John Bayliss has retired after 15 years managing the ten library services in this region. Photo: Dubbo Photo News.

Like a good book, what lies ahead for former Macquarie Regional Library director John Bayliss is a bit of a mystery, but will probably include some travel.

Retiring after 15 years in his role, Mr Bayliss' tenure at the library has seen flooding, major refurbishments across the entire regional network of libraries he’s managed, and the very bleak prediction that, in the wake of the internet, books would die.

“We’ve been presented with that scenario a lot,” he told Dubbo Photo News.

“Once computers came in, we changed what we were doing. The internet of course was going to be end of it all when ebooks, eaudiobooks and emagazines came on the scene to change the way people would do their research and reading.

“What we’ve always done however is ask what we can do to make sure we’re using this great technology and supporting people in the community who wish to read a book that way, or find their information that way, so we’ve just embraced it, it’s just part of it,” he said.

“If anyone wants to load up three or four books on their device to take on an airplane, we want to make sure we can provide that, or if they want to grab a book to read in bed, we make sure we can do that too.

“That tactile thing with books is still very important for people, but we’re making sure we’re not behind with what’s going on.

“We have a whole range of fantastic databases on our website too, that people can go to online and know they’re going to an authority.

There are ten library service points which Mr Bayliss has overseen during his time here.

“There’s two in Dubbo Regional Council; Dubbo and Wellington, then two in Narromine Shire at Narromine and Trangie, then out at Warrumbungle Shire there’s Coonabarabran, Coolah and Dunedoo, then Baradine, Mendooran and Binnaway, with 32 staff across the region.”

All the libraries share a common catalogue. “So, for example, people in Wellington can borrow a book from Baradine,” Mr Bayliss said.

Significantly he’s steered in refurbishments across the region.

“The refurbishments for these libraries is about providing spaces the community needs. Such as study spaces, quiet places to read, spaces for children’s activities, spaces for writers' events, displays and presentations, so just having that space has made a big difference in terms of the layout and the opportunities provided.”

Libraries have given Mr Bayliss a lifetime of opportunity from his beginnings in Lithgow where a one-year relief position lasted slightly longer – with no looking back.

“My mum and dad were in Lithgow and I took that position for the year, but that person didn’t come back and they offered me permanent work – and 21 years later I left.

“In that time, I did a whole lot of things with Lithgow Council. I was their first tourism officer, I did a lot around their historical sites and industrial history, so I was seconded out of the library three days a week."

John is also an alumni from Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga where he did a postgraduate course in Librarianship, historical studies and an internship at the Powerhouse Museum.