September is shaping up to be a big month for Fremantle Library as it celebrates 70 years of operation with an exciting line-up of community events.
The Fremantle Free Lending Library was opened on 5 September 1949 by state librarian Dr James Sykes Battye. Located at 13 South Terrace Fremantle – the cappuccino strip building today occupied by Dome café – the library was on the first floor. Its shelves contained 5000 books, and became the first wholly rate-supported public library in Western Australia.
City of Fremantle Acting Director of Community Development Beverley Bone said the library had nearly 25,000 members and saw more than 130,000 people walk through the doors last financial year.
“More than 50,000 people visited the library online, and while books are still the library’s major stock in trade, over 20 per cent of our loans are for digital content,” Ms Bone said.
“Our library also plays a critical role in supporting community learning and social engagement, and we saw more than 12,000 people participate in our events and programs last financial year.
“It’s also an exciting time for Fremantle Library as we look forward to moving into our new building, which will deliver an incredible space for people of all ages and abilities.
“The concept of what a library is and the kind of services they offer has evolved over time, and our new library will be the next step in that evolution.”
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the library’s 70th anniversary was an important milestone, which spanned generations.
“While the ‘library paradigm’ has certainly changed through the decades, its fundamental purpose to serve the community continues to thrive and we see this more than ever at our Fremantle Library,” Mayor Pettitt said.
“We have programs in place to help community find jobs, learn new languages or receive a helping hand with updated technology, as well as provide the classic offerings of a library including a comprehensive selection of books, DVDs and other materials.
“Fremantle Library provides a meeting space for social clubs and start-up businesses, access to the latest technology including 3D printers and robotics.
“Ultimately, our library is one of the bedrocks of services provided by the City of Fremantle, and it’s a place where residents can visit and feel connected with their community.”
Kicking off the library’s 70th anniversary event program is Fremantle – A Page Turner, an author panel talk welcoming Alan Carter, Craig Silvey, Amanda Curtin and Leigh Straw to the stage.
Held on 4 September at Fremantle Arts Centre, audiences will have the opportunity to get to know these authors who are behind some of Australia’s inspiring works and see how Fremantle has, and continues to, inspire and support literature and the arts.
The Library is also partnering with Fremantle Arts Centre to deliver a book sculpture exhibition, from 19 September-10 November, which takes discarded library books and turns them into vivid pieces of art.
A second author talk on 13 September will see Australia’s funniest and best loved writer for young people Morris Gleitzman pack out Fremantle Town Hall. Audiences will hear Morris talk about his life from being a writer of feature films and live stage material to being the wonderful children’s author everyone knows and loves.
Closing out the celebrations is the big 70th birthday bash at Fremantle Library on 26 September where the whole community is invited. There’ll be music, entertainment, games and, of course, a birthday cake.