A NEW chapter for Warrnambool and district readers is taking shape with the city council and South West TAFE joining forces to bid for government money to build a joint library which would include a cafe and high-speed broadband access.
The announcement follows more than three years of behind-the-scenes negotiations as part of a push to find a replacement for the city’s 37-year-old public library and broaden TAFE’s community reach.
TAFE this week confirmed it would make available a section of the D-building ground floor to be fitted out as a library and community hub with access to its technology resources.
The project’s estimated cost is between $8-9 million and the city council is likely to allocate budget funds when required.
Mayor Michael Neoh said it would be considerably cheaper to develop the D-wing space which faced Gilles Street than an earlier suggestion to use a section facing Merri Street.
“Establishing a state-of-the-art library was identified in our council plan as a priority and sharing an expanded facility with TAFE makes a lot of sense,” he said.
“We believe it will provide enlarged services for the community and boost education attainment rates.
“South West TAFE is a significant employer and we believe a joint library will help consolidate that position.”
TAFE’s infrastructure committee chairman John Verhoeven described the project as a win-win.
“This will deliver a new library for our students and for Warrnambool with world’s best practice, contemporary design and space,” he said.
“It will have a cafe, breakout rooms, access to technology and potential to revitalise this part of town and our campus.
“The project creates opportunities for a much stronger local partnership between the city council and South West TAFE.”
Moyne Shire Council expressed interest in the concept when first aired and mayor James Purcell told The Standard yesterday it would probably be discussed by councillors next week.
“There is certainly a significant number of Moyne residents who use Warrnambool library services and interuse of library facilities across the state is increasing,” he said.
Cr Neoh said he saw no threat to the long-standing partnership with Corangamite Regional Library Corporation to which Warrnambool City, Moyne, Corangamite and Colac Otway shires pay substantial membership fees.
“There would be no difference to what happens now with our council providing facilities and the corporation providing services,” he said.
“We can’t fit available stocks into the library building we have now.”
If the joint project goes ahead the municipal library building would most likely be turned into office space for council staff.