Kindles, iPads and e-books might be all the rage, but there’s nothing like well designed new facilities to attract the community in droves when it comes to libraries.
At least that’s the case in Grafton NSW, where an architecturally lauded building has doubled the number of people coming in through the doors of the town’s library in just six months.
Visitation to Clarence Valley Council’s new Sir Earle Page Library and Education Centre in Grafton have shot up to between 600 and 900 visits per day, twice as many as there were before, and membership has grown by a staggering 2000 per cent since the new building opened on a council car park in April.
Regional Librarian Kathryn Breward said the new library was now a vibrant community hub and it had been an outstanding success.
“It’s given the whole community of Grafton a real lift,” Mrs Breward said.
“It’s the beating heart of the community, a real people space. Everyone feels very comfortable here, which is not always the case, with libraries often feeling too cavernous or too small and generally just out of proportion to the people.”
The $8 million library was designed by national architect firm ThomsonAdsett, who received a commendation at the recent Australian Institute of Architects’ regional awards.
ThomsonAdsett Project Director Dayne Mearns said the library was designed to draw people in by making a variety of activities visible from the street and creating an exhibition space in the foyer.
“We aimed to incorporate within the design seamlessly integrated space for multiple uses, including for members of the community to get together and socialise, craft activities, computer gaming and quiet research, for cultural exhibitions and performances, as well as to access the latest information technology and published collections,” he said.
Mrs Breward said she was particularly pleased with the integration of public art into the building and surrounds.
“Local artists were commissioned to create sculptures and glass work as a backdrop to reflect aspects of local importance, the river, the timber industry and the forests,” she said.
One particularly fun aspect of the design is an interactive floor projector with moving images, which both adults and children delight in.
The two-storey building occupies 1,600 square metres and includes space for a local studies collection, genealogy, meeting rooms, computer area, children’s activity area and quiet places to read.
The $8 million facility opened in April 2014 and is a showcase initiative of Clarence Valley Council’s environmentally-sustainable design (ESD) program.
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