Newport Library: the Heart of the Hub

Newport Library and Community Hub

 

“Providing a number of important public services in the one place is key to a people’s well-being.”

 

Friday 2 September marked a red letter day in Hobsons Bay, with the opening of the $9 million Newport Library and Community Hub.

The multi-purpose building houses the Newport library, senior citizens centre, Council’s youth services team, maternal child health services and other various community groups using the fully refurbished, heritage Mechanics Hall, fronting Mason Street.

The Newport hub
The Newport hub 

Steered by a community reference group, planning for this huge project dates back some years. The original plans were to have a very small, hi-tech  ‘book free’ library!  (Yes, you read that right).   Thankfully, passionate locals like Newport author Sarah Vincent – not on the original committee – put paid to that.

Together we formed an advisory group that made sure Council built a much bigger library with proper book stacks. As the founder and president of Williamstown Literary Festival, I’m passionate about books and believe libraries are vital to the cultural well-being of society.

What’s more, Newport now has a proper library, with real books and book stacks. We can thank a number of concerned citizens who joined me in raising concerns about the inadequacy of having a small, high-tech area, which only provided e-books! Several of them sat on a sub-committee and the result is much more pleasing and beneficial to our city.

The Newport Library complex (the proper name is  Newport Community Hub but it will always be Newport Library for me!) offers two floors of flexible spaces and includes:

  • A library section that can be enlarged to use adjoining program rooms.
  • Upstairs office space for Council’s Youth Services team, plus a youth lounge.
  • A music recording studio on the ground floor,
  • A main hall, with the ability to subdivide it into separate rooms, serviced by an adjoining kitchen.
  • Concertina doors opening out on to Paine Reserve – ideal as a venue for the Newport Folk Festival.
  • An enclosed courtyard for quiet outdoor reading, a barbecue or an intimate music venue.
  • Newly refurbished Mechanics Hall main hall and stage.

 

The Library at Newport Community Hub is set in the heart of the building with views into Paine Reserve.

Newport Community Hub includes Maternal and Child Health Services as well as activities for Young People and Seniors.

Details on the hire of meeting spaces and the recording studio will be available in early 2017 and enquiries can be made by contacting reception on 9932 4012.

Newport Library is the latest in a network of magnificent libraries in Hobsons Bay and comes four years after we opened Williamstown’s striking edifice. We also boast fine modern libraries in Altona North and Altona Meadows, with Altona next on the list for an upgrade and face lift.

In a time when local libraries are threatened around the world, we should be proud of our record.  What’s more,  investing in libraries makes sense.  Library usage has soared since Geelong opened their futuristic Library and Heritage Centre ‘The Dome’ earlier this year.

I was away at my son’s wedding for the opening but I heard it was a joyous weekend and the feedback I’ve received about our newest library and civic hub, perfectly sited in Newport’s thriving CBD, has been rapturous.

Providing a number of important public services in the one place is key to a people’s well-being in my opinion.  It allows people of all ages to mix and socialise, swap ideas and just have a natter and a cup of tea.

Many great projects have started this way: witness the little miracle happening at the Williamstown Seniors building opposite the RSL.  Thanks to  Jenni and Barry Mitchell, the sunny corner building has become home to many exciting community-driven projects.  There’s the Loom Room, Conversations for the Curious, and the latest, a production line for the Boomerang Bags project.