Councillors will be asked to support the City’s first new library since 2006, when they meet next Tuesday evening.
A $2.8 million Digital Library inside the entry to the City’s new Council Administration Centre in Newcastle West is expected to attract 50,000 people in its first year, and would be twice the size of existing libraries in Stockton, Lambton, Beresfield, Adamstown, Mayfield and the City Local History branch.
A programable robot, podcasting studio, virtual reality equipment, interactive digital storywall and 3D printer are just some of the technologies that will be available to the community within the Digital Library.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the Digital Library takes the best elements of traditional libraries and enhances the experience with modern technology.
“The Digital Library experience provides cutting edge digital experiences combined with the most popular elements of the traditional library space. It aims to create opportunities to experience emerging technologies and spark innovation, while still being a flexible place for people to learn, relax and collaborate.
“The 510m2 Digital Library will be the largest ever after only the City and Wallsend libraries. It will create unique digital experiences that will be a first for the city and region, while still meeting the core principles of connecting communities through sharing knowledge and information.
“Earlier this year Council unanimously supported our 2019 Library Strategy, which included digital inclusion, creativity and innovation as an updated vision for our library network.
“Our Library Strategy involved consulting with more than 1,300 people on what services they want and need in 2019 and beyond from our libraries.
“Additionally, the feedback from the community since we first went public with the concept of a Digital Library has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The $2.8 million cost of the Digital Library will largely be funded using the $2 million proceeds of the 2015 sale of the historic School of Arts building on Hunter Street. A condition of the sale was that the proceeds could only be used for future library infrastructure.
“Building the Library inside the entry to our Council Administration Centre also means we will avoid about $3.2 million in costs that would have been incurred had we proceeded to build a standalone Digital Library in the local area,” she said.
Manager Libraries and Learning Suzie Gately said Newcastle West is the perfect location for the region’s first Digital Library.
“Earlier this year, Councillors were presented data showing that the recent boom in population in Newcastle West, Wickham and Honeysuckle had created a critical need in the area for a new library service.
“The Digital Library will be located opposite the Newcastle Interchange, which means it’s convenient to train, light rail, bus, bicycle and kiss-and-ride transport modes.
“The Digital Library has been designed so that it can be quickly placed into onsite storage to allow the space to also act as the Council Chamber when meetings occur several times each month,” she said.
Major elements of the Digital Library include:
· A Robot to create a unique user experience and participate as the source of community coding workshops
· VR - virtual reality equipment to showcase new technologies
· An Interactive digital story wall – inspired by the Christchurch City Library, telling stories of Newcastle’s heritage, inviting customers to explore online exhibitions and displaying vision from key city attractions such as Blackbutt Reserve and the Anzac Memorial Walk
· A digital “green” room with podcast equipment will be bookable by the public
· Programming activities for all ages focussed on science and technology, such as coding, podcast or VR workshops
· A digital ‘Magic Box’ that replicates pages from any of the digitised items from the City’s Rare Book collection
· A 3D printer alongside a multifunction print and scan device for public use
· The ability to borrow from the retail styled collections of the latest bestsellers through the self-loan kiosk and return your items on the self-return shelves
· Access to thousands of digital collection titles to complement the modest collection for adults and children
· A dedicated Pressreader table with access to 6,000 newspaper and magazine titles
· Hublets – tablets available to borrow in the library – useful for those without devices
· Ereaders for loan
· Targeted digital inclusion support for eGov services
· Automated print and payment system, which allows members to pay for printing, copying, fines and services both online and onsite by using credit on their library cards.