As we celebrate the opening of a refreshed modern library at Maroochydore it gives us time to pause and reflect on the important role libraries have played within the Sunshine Coast community for more than a century.
We turn the clock back to 1913, when Nambour Library opened as a Library and Public Reading Room in the Nambour Town Hall (where Centenary Square now stands).
In 1925, the library moved into its own premises next door but in 1929 a huge fire destroyed the Nambour Town Hall and adjacent buildings, including the public library.
For 12 months, the library was accommodated in Chadwick’s Chambers until its ‘neat brick structure’ alongside the rebuilt Town Hall was completed in October 1930.
Miss Lucy Thynne was a long serving Librarian in a time when families paid for the privilege of being a library member and borrowing books.
In 1968, the then Maroochy Shire Chairman, Cr Ed De Vere, set about finding a new home for the rapidly expanding Nambour Library.
It was some 13 years later that council bought the old Commonwealth Bank building and the library moved into the much larger premises.
Soon plans were underway for a building specifically designed to function as a library, and in February 1986, construction began on the site adjacent to the Nambour Council Chambers.
Schools of Arts played a part in the early days of lending libraries on the Sunshine Coast and throughout Australia.
On Saturday 28 March 1931, Caloundra School of Arts, located on the corner of Bulcock Street and Canberra Terrace, was officially opened by the Queensland Minister of Education. Modern for its time, it had a lending library as well.
From 1976 libraries on the Sunshine Coast were operated by the Sunshine Coast Regional Library Service (SCRLS) as a free service to the community.
This was achieved when the three local authorities, Landsborough, Maroochy and Noosa, pooled resources to operate the library service.
Books were purchased and processed in the central library at Cotton Tree and then distributed to the four shire libraries at Caloundra, Maroochydore, Nambour and Tewantin.
Landsborough Shire Council constructed their first purpose built library in Omrah Avenue, Caloundra in 1976.
The first chief librarian was Dawn Maddern who became instrumental in establishing an award winning service for Caloundra’s community.
Other library branches were planned and constructed in the shire in the following years.
Maleny Library opened in May 1998 followed by Beerwah Library in June 2000.
On 28 April 1976, the Minister for Local Government and Main Roads. Mr Hinze, officially opened the new $490,000 Maroochydore Civic Centre before a “capacity crowd” comprising State and Local Government officials and members of local community service organisations.
The stylish complex located at Cotton Tree would incorporate regional and municipal library, child care centre and an art gallery.
Mr Hinze said the civic centre “typified the bigger and expanding role of the ‘third sphere’ of government…Gone are the days when council had only a few roads and water and sewerage service to worry about,” he said.
“Today they are involved and committed more heavily in such things as health and child care services, libraries and cultural activities”.
Chairman of the Maroochy Shire Council, Cr E O De Vere, said there had been a real need on the Sunshine Coast for such a library and child care complex.
He said at the present growth rate, Maroochydore’s population would rise from 10,000 to 19,000 within ten years.
On 13 September 1976, the Maroochydore Public Library was officially opened. Attending, with members of the press, were the Shire Chairman, Cr De Vere.
Unfortunately, the opening was overshadowed in the press by the official opening of the “Big Cow”. Nevertheless public response was enthusiastic.
Initially the library held 2,225 books and about 250 eager borrowers joined on the first day. By the end of September there were 998 members, 346 of them children.
The late 1970s and early 1980s also saw the development of mobile library services that visited hinterland towns and coastal suburbs as part of the Sunshine Coast Regional Library Service.
In 1985, after 10 years of regional library services, Landsborough Shire Council announced it was withdrawing from the Sunshine Coast Regional Library Service.
Soon after, in December 1985, Maroochy Shire also announced it would withdraw.
The regional service concluded on 30 June 1986 and the three library services continued separately for many years.
Amalgamation of the three shires in 2008 brought the library services together again as Sunshine Coast Libraries.
Jack Beausang, Landsborough Shire Council councillor from 1956 and Council Chairman from 1964, was a great supporter of the Caloundra City’s library services.
Friday 31 October 1986 saw the official opening of the Landsborough Shire Council’s John L Beausang Library adjacent to the earlier library built in Omrah Avenue.
A public meeting was held in Kenilworth on 27 February 1986 to discover the level of support for the formation of a community library.
The new service opened in the old Westpac Bank building in the main street on 7 June 1986 and was operated by the Friends of Kenilworth Library Group with 3,000 books from the Nambour Library.
Within one month, library membership grew to 231, out of the local population of approximately 400 people.
A few years later a small council-owned cottage was moved from the Coast to Kenilworth and refurbished as a new library.
In 1991 when the library service commissioned a new computer system, Kenilworth was brought ‘online’ and became a fully-fledged service operating with paid staff.
Coolum Beach Library opened officially on 13 October 1989. The award-winning design by architect Gabriel Poole is in his trademark tropical style, featuring a curved iron roof, large windows and tropical landscaping. Coolum Library has been extended in 2017.
Today libraries on the Sunshine Coast offer free membership through eight branches, two modern mobile libraries and 24/7 access to the library website.
There are many benefits to being a library member, including free Wi-Fi, recreational and information services and programs, and a specialist heritage library situated in Nambour Library.
The service provides access to a diverse range of collections, services and activities that support literacy, recreation and enjoyment, as well as intellectual, educational and creative development across the region.
We congratulate Maroochydore Library on yet another milestone event in its proud history and wish staff and their customers well into the future.
Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.
Picture Sunshine Coast can be accessed via the Sunshine Coast Libraries catalogue at library.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.
Hero image: View of the eastern side of Caloundra Library. The building was officially opened on 31st October 1986 by the then Governor of Queensland, Hon. Sir Walter Campbell, QC.
Image 1: Coolum Beach Library, Park Street, Coolum Beach, ca 2000. The award winning building was designed by Gabriel Poole in his trademark tropical style and officially opened on 13 October 1989 by Mike Ahern, the then Member for Landsborough.
Image 2: Kenilworth Community Library, Elizabeth Street, Kenilworth, late 1990s. The Library was opened on 7 June 1986 in the former Westpac Bank building in Elizabeth Street.
Image 3: Currie Street looking south from Station Square, Nambour, ca 1930. Nambour Public Library pictured on right, next to the Maroochy Shire Hall complex.
Image 4: Town Hall and Council Chambers adjacent to the Empire Hall, Nambour, 1920. The Library and Reading Room were located in the upper storey of the building.