“Such a fresh, beautiful space...” is just one of the comments left by a pleased Gloucester Library user after experiencing the refurbishments for the first time.
“I instantly felt very calm,” the feedback said.
After a substantial lead up time and months of community consultation, the MidCoast Council completed the promised upgrades to the Gloucester library.
When the former Gloucester Shire Council was forced to merge with Greater Taree and Great Lakes, there was fear that Gloucester would lose its library, however, the opposite occurred with newly formed MidCoast Council.
In March 2017, libraries manager, Chris Jones outlined plans to refurbish the outdated facilities having applied for grant funding. By April, member for Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen announced $172,658 in funding under the 2016/17 Public Libraries Infrastructure Grant program. In November, council called on the community for input on redesigning the space and by June 2018, plans where announced and dates where set. The work involved a brief complete shut down of the library and on August 13 the doors were reopened.
On Monday August 27, council held an official launch with invited guests, Minister of the Arts Don Harwin, State Librarian John Vallance and Mr Johnsen attending for the unveiling of a plaque.
Although the event was fairly low key, the changes to the library offer its users a completely new experience. There is a feeling for more space, despite the addition of a meeting room and a staff room. The book shelves are on wheels, allowing flexibility of space as they can be moved for events or the layout can be altered for better flow.
The window covering have been changed providing more natural light, the floor is darker and the light globes have been changed, giving the sense of more open space.
“The library looks fresh after the refurbishment,” one of the feedback forms states. “I didn’t realise how overdue and outdated our facilities were.”
Gloucester Library is now cutting edge, with its contemporary, modern features. It’s trialing a range of new things like signs, shelves, suppliers and furniture; and according to Mr Jones, so far so good.
“The majority of feedback has been positive,” he said.
Even the staff members are happy with the changes, he explained.
With all the changes, the flexible use of space and a new flat screen televisions, the library will be able to host a range of events that the Taree and Great Lakes libraries have already been doing, things like author events and more children’s activities. But the innovations aren’t over for the library with a public catalogue database to be installed, giving quicker access to the library’s collection.
Gloucester resident Samantha Green, who was part of the community consultation said the changes seem very fresh and functional.
“Overall it is a great space for residents and visitors to Gloucester and I am grateful that many of the comments put forward during the consultation process seem to have been heard,” she said.
The library business hours remain the same, Monday - Wednesday from 10am to 2pm and 2.30pm to 5pm, Thursday - Friday from 10am to 2pm and 2.30pm to 4.30pm, Saturday from 9am to noon. The meeting room is available for library users and community groups (by appointment) and everyone is invited to come and experience the new changes.
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