UPDATE 1pm: EMOTIONS ran high as a new library and community hub was announced by Labor MP Gayle Tierney as an election promise in Warrnambool on Friday.
Tears were shed by community members and Labor candidate Kylie Gaston, for whom a joint library with the Warrnambool City Council and South West TAFE has been a pet project of hers for years.
A re-elected Labor Government will invest $16.3 million into the project, which will be built on the TAFE campus.
Council chief executive officer Bruce Anson said it was “fantastic news”.
He said the push to build a new library started about 10 years ago.
The current library was built in the 1970s and has outgrown its site on Liebig Street.
It only has one toilet.
“It became obvious what we had was a a 1976 library and it didn’t meet the needs of existing users, let alone enticing new users,” Mr Anson said.
He said a new learning hub would become a community centre, for all south-west residents to use.
“While it will be a shared facility, it will be a stand-alone library,” he said.
“We will be able to share our resources and increase them. It’s all about efficient service delivery for both organisations.”
Mr Anson said the library would be for all, from children to the elderly.
“We anticipate conservatively that we will have half-a-million people per year visit the library, up from 112,000 now,” he said.
He said people could visit the library with the view to beginning study at TAFE.
Mrs Gaston said she was elated after years of advocating for a new centre had come to fruition.
“It’s a dream,” she said.
“I’ve campaigned for a new library for two council elections and I know it means so much to so many people who have been wanting it for many years now. This announcement is a result of sincere collaboration between TAFE and council with a common goal of achieving this for our community.
“We have spent many hours over quite a few years in meetings, working through concepts and advocating.”
Ms Tierney said people in Warrnambool deserved the best training facilities and community spaces.
“That’s exactly what this project will deliver.” she said.
“This project will bring TAFE, the community and industry together in the one place, giving local people the resources and opportunities they need to get a good job.
“The previous Liberal Government tried to wipe out TAFE in south-west Victoria – we’re not only repairing the damage they did, we’re making record investment to make it better than ever.”
South West TAFE chief executive officer Mark Fidge said a joint library was unique.
He said it was a new concept that hadn’t happened elsewhere.
“Why have two libraries 150 metres apart?” he said.
“It will be a real community asset. It could lead to people studying at TAFE leading to further employment opportunities.”
He said it was a coup for students, who would be able to “come into a space that is engaging and not a traditional library”.
Earlier: The Andrews Labor Government has announced it will invest $16.3 million into a new library and learning hub in Warrnambool if re-elected.
Victorian Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney made the announcement at South West TAFE this morning saying that in partnership with Warrnambool City Council, the hub would include a new community library, a SW TAFE library and staff spaces, public computers, exhibition and public display areas, study and play areas for children, meeting rooms and a games and digital media zone.
It will also deliver spaces that link students to STEM education and training from early years through to adulthood.
“People in Warrnambool deserve the best training facilities and community spaces and that’s exactly what this project will deliver,” Ms Tierney said.
MORE TO COME