Tuesday, March 5, 2024

New Melbourne library much more than just a good read

City of Melbourne Council has turned a new page in delivering community services – opening a new three-storey library with reading rooms, sound studios, art collections and family healthcare services in the heart of the Queen Victoria Market precinct. 

narrm ngarrgu Library and Family Services is Council’s first library to open in nearly a decade – providing residents, families, workers and students a complete suite of community services.

“narrm ngarrgu is a remarkable new facility which will make it easier than ever for Melburnians to access essential family and health services, books and information,” said Lord Mayor Sally Capp.

“It will add to the vibe of the Queen Victoria Market precinct – attracting more visitors and boosting business for traders.”

“In the last financial year, our collection of libraries welcomed nearly 1 million visitors – and we’re expecting this patronage to nearly double with the opening of narrm ngarrgu.

“Melbourne’s CBD is one of our fastest growing residential areas, with its population expected to more than double in the next 20 years. That’s why we are delivering this important service for our community.” 

narrm ngarrgu – meaning ‘Melbourne knowledge’ in Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung language – will build on the vibrant hospitality, retail and recreational offerings of the market, while celebrating the traditional owners of the land by integrating Aboriginal culture and heritage.

As part of Council’s $500 million Munro development, the $15.7 million state-of-the-art facility operates over three levels totaling 3,000m2.

The space includes:

  • Council’s first ever dedicated children’s library – featuring a bespoke, brightly-coloured carpet commissioned by Aboriginal artist Maree Clarke, a Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta, Boon Wurrung and Wemba Wemba woman;
  • 960m2 outdoor terrace – with native plantings, an outdoor play area and an interactive 6 metre-long eel trap tunnel;
  • Reading rooms, study areas and computer spaces;
  • Makerspace, featuring paint and photograph stations and the latest creative technology such as sewing and embroidery machines, 3D printers and laser cutters;
  • Sound studios for podcasting and recording;
  • Bookable meeting rooms and events space.

The library will also feature a community-driven collection of more than 30,000 new print books, alongside an extensive digital collection of books, audiobooks, magazines and music and film – all available in multiple languages for Melbourne’s diverse community. 

“Libraries are an integral part of our city – and we’re proud to open the doors to what will not only be our next library, but also our next health and community space, knowledge hub and big celebration of Aboriginal culture,” said Creative Melbourne portfolio lead, Councillor Jamal Haki.

“With doors officially open, we welcome everyone inside to explore the incredible collection of 30,000 items and celebrate our longstanding and important connection to Aboriginal art, heritage and knowledge.” 

The building will also host: 

  • Maternal and child health support services;
  • Parenting services, including a parent room (for feeding babies), playgroup area and outdoor play space;
  • Immunisations for children and adults;
  • Family support and counselling.

People can enjoy a suite of more than 80 heritage and never-before-seen artworks, including specially commissioned artworks by award-winning artist Maree Clarke.

The integrated artworks embed Kulin cultural references throughout narrm ngarrgu – providing opportunities for reflection, ceremony, celebration and play.

The facility was supported by the Victorian Government, with almost $1.2 million in funding.

“Libraries are about so much more than books. They are at the centre of our community life, which is why it is so important the newly developed Queen Victoria Market site in Melbourne has a library at its heart,” said Victorian Minister for Local Government, Melissa Horne.

“We are proud to support this new library through the Living Libraries Infrastructure Program, helping to build libraries for communities across Victoria.” 

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