Library of the future planned for Newcastle West

Dedicated podcasting and virtual reality equipment, 3D holograms of planned developments and interactive wall-mounted screens featuring key City attractions will feature among a suite of new offerings within the ground floor of the City’s future Central Administration Centre (CAC).

The digital library concept, which will be co-located with the customer service centre and Council Chamber in the City’s new CAC, will be the region’s first ‘library of the future’.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the space would be one of the stand-out features of the 12 Stewart Avenue building, which is just months away from occupation.

“When complete, this concept will put the City at the forefront of bridging the digital divide and deliver an advanced digital library focussed on digital literacy and inclusive access for our community,” the Lord Mayor said.

“It will redefine the library experience for people of all ages and create opportunities to experience emerging technologies and spark future innovation across our services.

“As part of the City’s 2019-2029 Library Strategy, which promotes new ways of thinking when it comes to library and customer services, it will help meet Smart City and sustainability commitments to foster digital inclusion and education equality, and inform the roll-out of future technology across other branches.”

As part of the plans, the Digital Library will offer coding classes to tech-minded students, novices or industry professionals eager to upskill their digital knowledge.

A multipurpose meeting room will also be available to the community. The space will also double as a podcasting studio, with library staff conducting regular classes demonstrating how to podcast.

The Digital Library will feature elements of a more traditional library including books, magazines and newspapers, which can be borrowed or read on comfortable lounge chairs. eBook download kiosks and a digital PressReader newspaper and magazine table will also feature in the new library.

Other features of the digital library concept include:

  • A digital ‘Magic Box’ that replicates pages from the City’s Rare Book collection. These can be read and navigated using the swipe of a finger from the outside of the glass;
  • Programming activities for all ages focussed on science and technology, such as coding activities for a robot, which can improve digital literacy skills
  • A focus on intergenerational digital inclusion activities to make it easier to access online information and services such as eGov services;
  • Interactive story walls that tell stories of our heritage and display vision from key city attractions such as Blackbutt Reserve and the Bathers Way Coastal Walk;
  • A cashless payment system which allows members to pay for printing, copying, fines and services online or in branches by using credit on their library cards.

While the library will initially operate within regular business hours, it is envisaged that in time an area on the ground floor complex will be configured to allow 24-hour opening hours for borrowing and computer access.

Libraries Manager Suzie Gately said the digital library project would take the best of traditional libraries and enhance the experience with modern technology.

“Libraries have, through history, been places for people to learn, relax and collaborate, and this project will take that experience to the next level by blending traditional book lending with curated digital content and a strong customer service focus,” she said.