The revitalisation of Newcastle's CBD has taken another step forward with the reopening of the newly refurbished Newcastle Region Library City branch.
City Of Newcastle has spent $1.36million, including a $200,000 NSW Government Public Library Infrastructure Grant, transforming the library into a state-of-the-art community facility.
The new-look branch includes electronic return shelves that automatically detect when a book is returned, a bank of self-serve kiosks for borrowing items and a digital makerspace where visitors can learn more about cutting-edge technology like 3D printing.
Lord Mayor of Newcastle Nuatali Nelmes said the library's refurbishment was timely, given the city's current transition towards becoming a smart city.
"The money we've invested in the library's transformation is bringing this facility squarely into the digital age," she said.
"Modernising our libraries is one of Council's key priorities, and it is part of a larger plan to revitalise the city."
"Libraries are no longer a place to just quietly read and borrow books. They're a place for the community to gather, collaborate, learn, study and enrich their lives."
The reopening also marks 60 years since the opening of the iconic War Memorial Cultural Centre building that houses the city branch. The building was originally also home to the University of Newcastle Conservatorium of Music and Newcastle Art Gallery.
A weekend of events is planned for later this month to celebrate the anniversary, including:
* A street party on Laman Street with a classic 50s theme covering music, food, drinks, theatre, cars and more
* An after-dark dinner party where the library's newly refurbished interior will be transformed into a fine dining venue
* A curator's talk covering the history of the library's photographic collection, and
* A public tour covering sections of the library rarely open to the community.
The library's new digital makerspace has been named The Space, and will operate on the building's first floor alongside new work and study areas.
Manager Libraries Suzie Gately said programmed activities included 3D printing, coding, 3D scanning, robotics and digital embroidery.
"This is an exciting new capability for the community," she said. "Workshops and other future events will showcase this technology to people of all ages and abilities."
The library's refurbishment also includes a new children's area, with windows overlooking Civic Park and plenty of floor-space for parents to read to their children.
Quiet reading nooks and spaces to hire for lectures and meetings are among the refurbishment's other features. So too is the absence of a traditional "front counter".
"We've moved towards a 'concierge' model, where borrowing and returning books is simple, fast and automated, and staff are freed up to provide tailored services for visitors," Ms Gately said.
She added that the entire community is invited to the 60th
birthday street party on Friday 27 October.
"We'd love to see as many people as possible partying and celebrating the 60th
birthday of what has become an icon of our city centre," she said.
A full list of activities planned to mark the War Memorial Cultural Centre's 60th
anniversary is below.
Friday 27 October
Explore the new Library, 10am to 2pm
Come and see the renovated library, take a tour and explore areas not often open to the public. There will be stories, craft and even dress-ups! Schools, pre-schools and playgroups are welcome to join the fun. For group bookings ring 4974 5333.
Party in the Street, 5pm to 8pm, Laman Street
Rock up to Laman Street for a trip down memory lane as we celebrate the 1950s and everything classic. Music, food and drinks, theatre, classic cars and more. Bring the family!
Saturday 28 October
Library after Dark dinner party, 6.30pm, City Library
When the doors close the rules change! Come see the Library like you've never seen it before. Find poetry in your drink, music in the air and fabulous food on candlelit tables. $80 per person. Bookings essential.
Lovett Gallery Newcastle in Photographs exhibition (opens Friday 27 October)
Newcastle in Photographs: Treasures from the collection
celebrates 30 years of the Lovett Gallery, and 60 years of collecting historical photographs. The exhibition includes some of the highlights of Newcastle's history from the Library's significant photographic collection.
Take a journey through the history of the Library's photographic collection with curator and Local History Coordinator Sue Ryan. Sue will discuss some of the photographers whose work is featured in the collection as well as collectors who have donated historic photos.
Saturday 28 October, 12.30-1.30pm
Thursday 2 November, 12.30-1.30pm