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Inside Docklands’ library

28 Oct 2012

Inside Docklands’ library Image

By Bethany Williams

Construction of a “21st century library” began in Victoria Harbour in Docklands last month.

But what exactly is a 21st century library and what will it mean for Docklands?

In order to find out Docklands News spoke to Ian Hicks.

Mr Hicks is City of Melbourne’s manager of community strengthening and is one of the people overseeing the library project.

According to Mr Hicks, the Docklands Library and Community Centre will be a place for people to learn, participate and connect in a physical and a digital environment.

The facility will combine traditional elements of a library with modern technology and a range of community resources.

Mr Hicks said the Docklands Library and Community Centre would be focused on bringing the community together.

“The way we’ve approached it is to say what are those things that are common to all of us in the world that might bring people together,” he said.

The team working on the project found that most people shared a common interest in music, entertainment, literature, reading, performance, culture, history, arts, heritage and socialising.

Mr Hicks said these interests had been used to define how the library and community centre would work.

The building will have different features and themes on each of its three levels.

Mr Hicks said the ground floor would be a place for people to meet and would include an area for activities such as art classes, a space for story-time and interactive tables.

“You’ll see a real vibrancy and a real liveliness about it,” Mr Hicks said of the ground floor.

One level up, on the second floor, will be an area reminiscent of a traditional library.

Mr Hicks said it would be a more conventional library space, which would house most of the library’s collection.

It is expected that the Docklands Library will add up to 50,000 items to the City of Melbourne’s 170,000-strong collection.

Mr Hicks described the second floor of the library as “a more reflective space” and said it would be an arts and heritage-focused area.

The library will provide physical and digital resources to explore the indigenous, settlement and maritime history of Docklands.

Mr Hicks said Lend Lease, in partnership with the council, had already done some preparatory work for this through its oral history project.

Walking up one flight of stairs will lead library visitors to a space of creativity.

Mr Hicks said the third floor would include room for music and entertainment, a “makers space” with facilities for workshopping music, along with performance space that would seat up to 120 people.

Although libraries are changing, Mr Hicks said the idea that people trust libraries, as spaces to learn, participate and connect, won’t fade away.

He said it was important that the Docklands library met the needs of a new generation or people.

“Our hope is that, in an Australian context, this will be a very contemporary offer in terms of libraries,” Mr Hicks said.

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