Five-year plan outlines major changes for Lake Mac Libraries

Jacqui Hemsley at Speers Point Library

Libraries across Lake Macquarie will be overhauled – and in some cases relocated – over the next five years to reflect the changing needs of the community.

A draft Five-Year Strategic/Business Plan on public exhibition from today calls for Lake Mac Libraries to embrace technology and transform into more active multi-use community facilities, incorporating digital hubs, workshop areas, museum and exhibition spaces.

Lake Macquarie City Council Cultural Services Manager Jacqui Hemsley said eight of the city’s 10 libraries were due for refurbishment, presenting the opportunity for a significant transformation of the entire service and how it is delivered.

Windale library

“This is a very exciting time for Lake Mac Libraries and the people who use them,” Ms Hemsley said.

“The changes outlined in our draft plan will see Lake Mac Libraries expand from a traditional service, based largely on physical loan items to one providing more active and innovative participation programs.”

Under the plan, Edgeworth Library will move to Cameron Park  Plaza shopping centre as soon as practical to serve that suburb’s burgeoning population, with the new site developed as a library museum.

Wangi Wangi Library will be refurbished to also serve as an arts and culture studio space, and a feasibility study undertaken to investigate moving Morisset Library while design and construction of a purpose-built new multi-use facility is complete.

Edgeworth library

Similar studies will help shape the future of Charlestown and Speers Point libraries.

In Windale, a new $6 million building will include a community centre and state of the art library services, replacing the suburb’s outdated existing facilities.

The draft plan also cites the need to review library opening hours, following “minimal” changes over the past 20 years.

“Exactly what will change will vary according to the needs of the communities each library serves, but over the next few years we’re likely to see new maker spaces, gallery and exhibition spaces, performances and sound studios, digital hubs, workshop spaces and meeting rooms,” Ms Hemsley said.

The proposed new 500sqm Library Museum at Cameron Park will include a semi-permanent social history and heritage collection – a first for Lake Macquarie.

“Library users in Lake Macquarie borrowed more than one million items in the past financial year,” Ms Hemsley said.

“That’s a fantastic result, but we need to continually improve and innovate to keep the customers we have and attract new ones to our service.”

The Five-Year Strategic/Business Plan also includes 10 strategic goals, covering everything from supporting literacy, learning and reading in the digital age to celebrating Lake Macquarie’s Indigenous culture.

The draft plan is online for public comment at shape.lakemac.com.au/libraries-strategy.

Hard copies and surveys are also available in all Lake Mac Libraries branches. Consultation is open until 24 February.