A $350,000 overhaul to Wangi Library Creative Hub has seen it reopen as a cutting-edge venue. More than just a library the Wangi Library Creative Hub is the first creative venue in the Hunter Region to operate under a ‘community self-access’ model and is the first co-located library and art studio.
Lake Macquarie City Council Manager Arts, Culture and Tourism Jacqui Hemsley said the community self-access model was similar to gyms, where members could access the Creative Hub via their library membership card at a time convenient to them.
“Part of the Lake Mac Libraries vision is to be a leader in new technology, collaborative space activation and provide innovative learning opportunities for our City,” she said.
“As demand for physical items decline, to remain relevant our focus is on community participation in lifelong learning programs, online engagement, multi-use and maker practices and e-services.
“Redefining services, refurbishing our spaces and building flexibility into opening hours is part of our strategic vision allowing us to meet the changing expectations of our customers and the needs of the City’s growing population.”
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin said the flexible design of the site enables increased access by the community and a diverse range of activities to align the space as a true community hub.
“The Wangi Library Creative Hub will be a great space for the community to come together for a range of activities like workshops, book clubs and community meetings,” Mr Martin said.
“Projects like the Wangi Library Creativity Hub are great examples of what the Stronger Country Communities Fund is delivering right across regional NSW, and I hope the community make the most of it.”
The revamped library, now open seven days a week with self-access from as early as 8am, includes spaces for artmaking and local exhibitions and improved areas for community gathering and workshops. The facility also features refreshed spaces for books and other items for loan, designed and constructed by the Wangi Men’s Shed.
Creative Hub Business Leader Priya Mathew Johnson said the introduction of self-access to the facility has allowed for an increase in access to library services from 24 hours per week to 43 hours per week.
“Wangi Library Creative Hub users can use their library card to enter the building during non-staffed hours allowing them to browse and borrow library collections, pick up reservations, use the public PCs, printer and copier, and return borrowed items,” Ms Mathew Johnson said.
“Members can apply for self-access through their library account by visiting the website or by dropping into the facility during staffed hours.”
Lake Macquarie Mayor Cr Kay Fraser said the Wangi Library Creative Hub provided a vibrant and inclusive space for the community to read, learn, work and create together.
“Libraries are no longer just places for people to sit and read, they are a source of knowledge and connection, and they provide a community space to express creativity and access countless digital resources,” Cr Fraser said.
“By providing new flexible spaces, we hope the community will embrace the facility and enjoy the diverse experiences on offer.”
The refurbishment also included newly commissioned public art installations, an extended all-weather balcony to provide more programming space and self-serve kiosks.
Ms Hemsley said the Wangi Library Creative Hub’s new operating system was part of an ongoing trial.
“We’re really excited about what we can offer through this new system, but we’re keen to hear the community’s feedback and review operations based on what we hear,” she said.
The refurbishment was funded by the NSW Government’s Stronger Countries Community Fund and Council.